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The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

Academic Senate approves undergraduate climate change requirement

Photo+Courtesy+of+Scripps+Institution+of+Oceanography
Photo Courtesy of Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The UC San Diego Academic Senate approved the Jane Teranes Climate Change Education Requirement at the Representative Assembly meeting on Oct. 10, establishing a new graduation requirement for incoming first-year students beginning Fall 2024. This new requirement honors the late teaching professor Jane Teranes, who connected UCSD undergraduate students with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography by creating opportunities such as the Scripps Undergraduate Research Fellowship program and the Scripps Geosciences Educational Opportunities program. Teranes also established the Climate Change Studies minor in 2019. 

According to a statement released by the Academic Senate, the JTCCER is designed to “empower our students with the knowledge and skills needed to confront the urgent global challenge of climate change.”

Students will be required to complete a one-quarter course that satisfies the JTCCER in order to earn a bachelor’s degree. Students currently enrolled are not required to fulfill this requirement but are welcome to enroll in any of the approved courses that will be made publicly available by Fall 2024. The JTCCER does not increase the number of courses students must take to graduate. Rather, courses approved by the Academic Senate to satisfy the requirement will overlap with existing general education courses, major and minor requirements, or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion courses. Incoming transfer students are exempt from completing the JTCCER, but the Academic Senate may consider extending the requirement to transfer students in the future. 

Faculty and departments may propose existing or new courses to the Academic Senate to be considered for inclusion in the list of courses that satisfy the JTCCER. Approved courses will cover a wide variety of concepts so that students may explore climate change from multiple perspectives, including scientific, psychological, political, and economic lenses. The JTCCER committee classifies the requirement content into four categories: Scientific Underpinnings, Humanistic and Social Dimensions, Climate Solutions, and Project-based learning. These categories ensure that students are equipped with a scientific understanding of the causes of climate change as well as how humans play a role in worsening the climate crisis. 

The Academic Senate is in the process of creating a new Senate committee, the Janes Teranes Climate Change Education Requirement Committee, to oversee the implementation of the requirement. The JTCCER will be reassessed and voted on every five years to determine whether it shall continue, be discontinued, or be amended. This process will allow the committee to refine the requirement based on its impact on the student experience. 

In 2019, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, then-UC President Janet Napolitano, and the chancellors of each UC campus signed a climate emergency declaration letter that called for “increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curricula, campus and community outreach programmes.” That same year, the UCSD Climate Crisis Task Force was formed, which stated that “UCSD has a moral and practical obligation to teach tens of thousands of students about the climate crisis.”

The Committee on Campus Climate Change drafted a resolution in Spring 2021 that advocated for the UCSD to make climate change education a requirement for all undergraduate students. The Senate Council and Undergraduate Council agreed to the idea, and a Senate-Administration workgroup was formed to further develop a climate change requirement. 

In an effort to gain support for this change, working-group member and A.S. Campuswide Senator Michelle Griffith prepared a presentation for the A.S. Senate Assembly and conducted a straw poll that resulted in unanimous support.

Former VP of Academic Affairs Rhianen Callahan offered to, once made public, take the full proposal to the UC-wide Academic Affairs meeting in hopes of spreading the requirement to other UC campuses, further heightening students’ awareness of the climate crisis. 

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About the Contributor
Giselle Hinojosa, Contributing Writer
I'm a first year Communications major, looking to work professionally as a journalist. When I'm not writing I'm either watching sports, out trying new food with friends, or working out.
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