Campaign 2. Teaching

Our second demand is that UC San Diego must teach the climate crisis and climate justice to all undergraduates. This is a critical part of preparing students to think about what will be the biggest issue in many of their lives, and also preparing them for the job market that will increasingly be oriented towards mitigation and adaptation.

So far, however, undergraduate course offerings on the climate crisis (as opposed to the physical science of climate) are quite inadequate at UC San Diego. For example, in Spring 2020, there are perhaps 200 seats in such classes, out of an undergraduate population of 29,000, see here. More generally, a wider list of classes across quarter is here. Not all of these are about the socio-political-economic aspects of the climate crisis, some are more narrowly about climate science.

Meanwhile, the UCSD Green New Deal has multiple campaigns to try to bolster teaching on campus, from presentations in large undergraduate classes, to faculty workshops, to trying to build the climate crisis into existing classes.

A. Incorporating the climate crisis into existing courses

The climate crisis poses urgent social, political, economic, technical, and environmental challenges. To address these challenges, “climate risk” is being incorporated into decision-making across economic sectors, including financial and capital investment planning, development of engineering standards, military strategy, and disaster management [1]. Today’s college graduates must be “climate literate,” meaning they must understand the climate crisis and its relevance within their fields to effectively mitigate its impacts in their future careers and local communities.
Climate literacy is especially important for UCSD and its DEI efforts because a significant number of low-income and underrepresented minorities whose communities are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change matriculate at UCSD [2]. A quarter of incoming UCSD students identified as underrepresented minorities in 2016 [3] and UCSD ranks the lowest in median family income out of 27 highly selective public universities [4]. Thus, there is an opportunity to increase climate literacy in UCSD undergraduates, who are well-situated to apply this knowledge by creating DEI-sensitive climate solutions both locally and in their future careers. 

James Riddell and Charlotte Zell, both undergraduates at UCSD, are working with Karl Gerth to incorporate the climate crisis into the courses he will be teaching in 2021. The purpose of integrating the climate crisis into pre-existing courses is to help UCSD undergraduates develop a transdisciplinary understanding of the climate crisis in the context of different academic disciplines. Their team has done a wealth of research on climate change pedagogies and have plans of integrating the climate crisis into as many undergraduate courses as possible. Contact James at to get involved.

B. Presentations team to General Campus and Health Sciences.

Volunteers in the organization have made dozens of presentations about the climate crisis to undergraduate classes through UC San Diego. We also have outreach to the medical school.