Drop/Add Week (opinion version)

Students can search for classes that fit their major requirements through Athena. (Photo/Garrett Leffelman)

If you could remember what the climate was like ten years ago, you can probably tell that it’s not the same now. Winters are getting shorter while summers are getting longer and increasingly warmer. And when top scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change say that climate change is extremely likely to be due to human activity, you can be sure it’s not going away either.

Climate change affects our lives through weather patterns, rising oceans and so on, and will progress more seriously with each passing year. However, certain undergraduate degree paths at the University of Georgia are set up so that students never have to learn about climate change, its causes or its effects. This is a disastrous ignorance for students, so a climate change class, or some variation of it, should be required for every major.

Undergraduate curriculum is designed to teach students how to be better thinkers and problem solvers, using the education to help advance their field. Marketing majors advertise products that people want to sell and psychology students work to understand the brain, but how do students incorporate the issues that climate change will bring? How can students deal with water scarcity and decreased nutrition of agricultural crop or increased energy demands of a world shifting away from traditionally dirty sources and towards renewable energy?

There’s a market for renewable energy and sustainably-manufactured products. There will be climate-related PTSD because of trauma caused by climate change-related natural disasters. Societies will change around scarce resources, storytellers will have to describe a changing climate. With the multitude of educational paths, there’s a multitude of ways to grapple with climate change.

Climate change is a pervasive global issue that will touch every facet of our life. Thus, students at UGA with their distinct majors, should understand the severity of climate change and think about how their major can cope with its effects. At least a single credit on climate change, through online, in-person or seminar classes, should be required for every student at UGA.

Climate change is a nonpartisan, global issue. A human issue, and the humans at UGA can do themselves a favor by getting a head start on adapting their career to a changing climate before its effects prove to be too disastrous. No matter what you major in, you have to be able to understand the changing world and learn how to maneuver in it.

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