Emory Student Groups Promote On-Campus Climate Awareness & Action

By: Clare McCarthy, General Sustainability Intern, Office of Sustainability Initiatives

During this Climate Awareness Month, OSI highlighted inspiring women and young activists across the globe who have made invaluable contributions to sustainability and climate action movements, as well as Emory faculty and alumni who are engaged in important climate-related work. We are finishing our Climate Awareness Month communications by drawing attention to student organizations that are uplifting concerns of climate and social justice in campus discussions and creating opportunities for the entire Emory student body to engage with these important issues.

In Fall 2019, ECRP, ECAST, and ECO collaborated to host Emory’s first-ever climate strike. Students marched to Convocation Hall and demanded improved climate policies from the university administration.

Before Spring 2016, Emory College’s extracurricular landscape included a about 20 sustainability-oriented student organizations but lacked a climate-focused student group. Today, just a few years later, climate concern and interest have grown within the student body to such an extent that there are now several climate-focused student organizations—the Emory Climate Coalition (ECO), the Emory Climate Analysis and Solutions Team (ECAST), and the Climate Reality Project (which has an Emory Chapter, ECRP, and an Oxford chapter, OCRP)—each of which approaches the climate crisis from a slightly different perspective.

Emory Climate Organization (ECO)

In 2014, Emory was accredited as an official observer to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—being one of only 50 American universities holding this status at the time. Beginning in 2015, Emory sent delegations to the annual Conference of the Parties (COP), which usually includes 10-15 undergraduate students. Read more about Emory’s involvement with the COP here.

When the first student delegates returned to campus, they recognized a need for a climate-oriented student organization and were excited by the opportunity to apply their COP experience on campus. In the Spring of 2016, the students founded ECO to increase climate literacy and work toward climate action among Emory students. ECO began the tradition of Climate Week, during which it hosts a variety of climate-related events, from film screenings to a social justice panel to an art display of photos from COP. Another one of its signature events is the Universities for a Greener Georgia conference, where students, faculty and staff can share their research and applied work on climate and environmental topics.

Get involved: To stay up to date on opportunities, follow @ecoatemory on Instagram.


Emory Climate Analysis and Solutions Team (ECAST)

Climate@Emory launched in 2014 as a university-wide effort to advance climate scholarship, teaching, and policy solutions. One of its initiatives, founded in Fall 2016, is ECAST, a joint program between faculty members and both undergraduate and graduate students. ECAST provides a “forum for students from across Emory University to conduct climate-related analysis and advance climate solutions.” It retains a strong relationship with its faculty advisors but is now more of a student-run organization that prioritizes building skills and capacities among its general body members. It does this by creating opportunities for participation in specific climate-related projects, such as energy audits and educational programs, and by hosting events that help attendees to develop key skills and knowledge in areas like environmental data science.

Looking forward, ECAST hopes to increase opportunities for involvement with the Atlanta community as a whole, as well as to further develop its educational and advocacy-related programs with an emphasis on Georgia-specific climate solutions.

Get involved: Connect with ECAST by exploring its Linktr.ee. Submit photos to be included in the ECAST “eARTth Gallery,” which will showcase environments and individuals that are special to the global Emory community during Climate Week 2021.


Climate Reality Project Campus Corps: Emory University Chapter (ECRP) and Oxford College Branch (OCRP)

The Climate Reality Project (CRP) is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Al Gore in 2006 to foster climate conversations. Today, it has grown into an international organization, with a mission to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every sector of society. It has over one hundred chapters located in communities across the globe, with about 30 of those located on college campuses. 

Emory’s chapter of CRP was founded during the Spring 2019 semester when its founding members attended the global Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in Atlanta and were inspired to bring the lessons which they had learned back to campus. ECRP prioritizes environmental activism and environmental justice. Ultimately, it hopes to create a campus culture of change-making and to strengthen Emory’s role as a leader in addressing climate change. This semester, ECRP is conducting research on climate work at Emory and beyond in order to choose a relevant climate action campaign to pursue. It is also partnering with other student organizations to bring awareness to the connection between climate and social justice; for instance, it collaborated with SHINE to host a discussion on climate-induced migration. 

As ECRP began on the Atlanta campus, OCRP started at Oxford College as an unofficial chapter. As the only environmentally-oriented club at Oxford, OCRP explores environmental justice and environmental activism through education, events, and an idea-sharing platform.

Get involved: Connect with ECRP by exploring its Linktr.ee. Connect with OCRP by following @oxfordclimateproject on Instagram. Even if you are not interested in joining CRP at Emory or Oxford, consider applying for the Virtual Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training in October 2021 to develop actionable skills as a climate leader. 


ECO + ECAST + CRP = The Emory Climate Coalition

During the 2019-2020 school year, there were efforts to form an Emory Climate Coalition, a network between the three organizations which was mostly employed to plan collaborative events on the Atlanta campus, such as the Fall 2019 Climate Strike (pictured above). This semester, there are currently renewed efforts to deepen and extend the collaboration to focus on concerns of climate and environmental justice.  

These three organizations’ work in the climate sphere can serve to complement and strengthen one another’s efforts, with ECO’s focus on climate education and awareness, ECAST’s focus on skill-building and research, and CRP’s focus on climate activism. Although the collaboration is still new, the organizations have proposed a few general actions and outcomes to pursue, with an overarching vision of furthering discussion and tangible action around climate justice and environmental justice within the Emory student body.

  • Equipping members with the necessary background knowledge and proper vocabulary to engage in discussions of climate and environmental justice
  • Serving as an open resource for campus groups who want expertise on the climate crisis and its connection to environmental justice
  • Provide a platform for students, especially BIPOC students, who want to elucidate personal experiences connected to environmental racism and/or injustice
  • Publicize campus events that speak on climate justice issues, then follow up with actionable steps to go deeper than simply surface-level awareness 
  • Engage more intentionally with climate justice work in the broader Atlanta and Georgia communities

These three organizations are collaborating to host events during Climate Week 2021, which will be the week of Earth Day (April 19-23). Events will include an environmental health case study workshop, a discussion on contemporary climate concerns, and a virtual climate rally. Connect with the organizations in the ways listed above to stay up to date on Climate Week events and other opportunities for involvement.

The mission and vision of this alliance are still evolving. If you have suggestions or comments on how this collaboration might proceed most effectively and/or are interested in being a part of the planning process, please fill out this Google form.

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