Year of Inquiry


The fifth initiative that President Falk and the Trustees outlined in their September 2015 statement addressing the college’s role in climate change focuses on making “new investments in our educational mission.”

Williams will “[m]ake anthropogenic climate change a campus-wide theme of inquiry in the 2016-17 academic year.

With the opening last spring of the Class of 1966 Environmental Center—and its pursuit of the Living Building Challenge—and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Center for Environmental Studies, the time is opportune for a comprehensive, interdisciplinary program of activities that will address both scientific and public policy issues and, in so doing, inform the national conversation on climate change. The planning for this year of inquiry, to be called Confronting Climate Change, will begin this fall.”

President Falk sent out an update on these projects on the first day of the 2016-2017 school year.

Click here to read that update.

Faculty have worked to tie climate change into their courses.  And a wide array of speakers will be coming to campus to engage with the college and the greater community.

In addition to the speaker series, the college community will be continuing its efforts to measure and reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions, including exercises such as the Wedge Exercise, planned for Winter Study Period. Throughout the summer, students collected and analyzed data to prepare for the Wedge Exercise, which not only identifies opportunities for reducing emissions, but also requires us to confront the difficult choices regarding what we are actually willing to sacrifice in order to reduce emissions.

Finally, the Zilkha Center is working with the Davis Center to present a series of workshops to help student build effective activist skills, including goal setting and strategy, reading an institution and finding levers for change, and effective communication and outreach. The Zilkha Center, Davis Center, Center for Learning in Action, Chaplain’s Office and Office of Student Life are all working to incorporate issues of climate change into regular programming that each office runs.

What you will find on the Confronting Climate Change site

In the Confront Climate Change website, you will find information about speakers, activities, and courses that were a part of this year.

Now that this year of inquiry has come to a close, you can find many videos of the speakers on the Programming page.  Since climate change is obviously still very much an issue, these discussions and the Williams push to reduce our footprint continues.

The activities outlined on this website are ever-evolving.  We invite students, staff, and faculty to continue to add to this rich campus dialogue.  Feel free to let us know about other climate change work being done on campus and we will add it to this site.