The University of Waikato has launched the world's first Bachelor of Climate Change degree as New Zealand works to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The three-year degree, starting next year, combines scientific knowledge with understanding of economic, social and political systems and Māori and Pacific responses to climate change, delivering graduates who will lead future climate change solutions.
University of Waikato dean of science Professor Margaret Barbour says as Aotearoa and the world work towards a target of net zero emissions by 2050, our future depends on how we respond to the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and how we adapt to environmental change.
"While climate change is an incredibly complex problem, the solution is very simple – globally, we need to stop emitting greenhouse gases. This requires a fundamental shift in the way we do business and go about our lives, with careful consideration of inequalities
in impacts," she says.
The basis of the degree are seven core papers culminating in a third-year group project, where students will come together to work with a company, iwi or community group to solve a real climate change problem.
Barbour says Waikato's researchers already have a proud history of addressing climate change from their exploratory work in agricultural greenhouse gases to examining political, social and economic systems and understanding the impacts of sea level rise and extreme weather events.
"The Bachelor of Climate Change brings together this collective expertise across all the disciplines creating a common language in the fight against the globe's most pressing environmental issue. Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is woven through the qualification, requiring holistic thinking and a recognition that humans are part of the natural world, not above it."
Barbour says students with the qualification will be in demand throughout Aotearoa and the world as we work towards the target of net zero emissions by 2050.
"Graduates with a Bachelor of Climate Change will lead future climate change solutions through an ability to think critically across science, arts, management and social sciences disciplines, and do so with cultural competency."
The degree was officially launched last week at an online event attended by Minister for Climate Change James Shaw and other dignitaries.
You can find out more about the degree here.