by Christine Muller
For the first time, the Wilmette Institute will participate in Global Climate Change Week, a global effort of academics initiated in 2015 to raise awareness about climate change. Global Climate Change Week seeks to encourage the entire academic community—including academics, students, and professional staff at universities and colleges—to engage with each other, their communities, and policy makers on climate-change actions.
The reason for the interdisciplinary collaboration is that climate change has become such an enormous threat to human civilization that it cannot be dealt with only by climatologists; it requires all science and other departments to work with climatologists. Therefore, all departments in participating universities are encouraged to teach about climate change and to take action. This year, the goals of Global Climate Change Week are to reach out to the wider community and to take action together. Everyone on the planet is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, some only little, but some quite severely. And all of us are contributing greenhouse-gas emissions, the poor generally very little, the rich generally a lot. We can only address this problem if all of us become part of the conversation and part of the solution.
Global Climate Change Week this year will run from October 10–16. As of this writing, 222 institutes of higher learning from all over the world have registered, including the Wilmette Institute and the University of Nur in Bolivia where the annual conference of the Bahá’í-inspired International Environment Forum will take place October 7–9.
Popular activities for Global Climate Change Week have been seminars, public lectures, and panel discussions on climate change; divestment activities and other campaigns; and cultural activities such as art competitions and film screenings.
The Wilmette Institute as an online learning center plans to participate in two ways:
- The faculty for the Sustainable Development course are creating a special Activity Page that will appear on the Home Page of the Wilmette Institute’s Learning Center, which will provide some resources explaining about climate change and the importance of the core activities in climate mitigation and adaptation efforts. It will also encourage reflection about how the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith provide the spiritual solution to the climate crisis. The entire Wilmette Institute community, past and present, learners and faculty, is invited to participate, using the Activity Page by learning, reflecting, acting, and discussing the topic with others.This Activity Page for Global Climate Change Week will be uploaded on October 10 at the beginning of Global Climate Change Week. Taking actions and discussing the topic, however, will not be confined to this week. Climate action is a year-round effort.
- The learners in the currently running Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind course (September 10–October 16) are encouraged to become engaged in one or more of the following activities:
• Learn more about climate change by watching a video by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an Evangelical Christian and atmospheric scientist. The video is a short one for beginners entitled What if climate change is real? (18:14).
• Make a special effort to take some climate action, large or small, educational or practical. Such action could be a change in habit or lifestyle or an educational initiative in your community.
• As a course activity, the learners in the Sustainable Development course will, during Global Climate Change Week, discuss how climate change affects the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The faculty of the Sustainable Development and the Prosperity of Humankind course is planning to compile the learning experiences and actions taken by all the participants in Global Climate Change Week and to share them later in a Wilmette Institute Newsletter.
The Wilmette Institute hopes that Global Climate Change Week will motivate many Bahá’ís and their friends to stand up for the truth and science of climate change, to face the reality of the world in which we live and the world our children will inherit, and to do something about climate change.