Georgia Tech Launches Global Change Program

G. Wayne Clough

The Georgia Institute of Technology announces the formal launch of the Global Change Program, a new initiative designed to coordinate and grow educational and research activities focused on providing solutions and creating economic opportunities at the intersection of global change, climate change, and energy.

The launch follows a year of deliberations by an executive committee of campus stakeholders brought together under a joint charge from the Office of the Provost and Office of the Executive Vice President for Research. The 22-member committee was led by President Emeritus G. Wayne Clough and represented all six colleges.

“The work of the committee highlighted the many ongoing and exciting efforts in the global change space happening in schools, units, and centers across the Institute,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “Bringing these groups together in a coordinated, collaborative, and multidisciplinary way will amplify Georgia Tech’s thought leadership and expertise, expand academic programs, and strengthen key partnerships with industry and peer institutions.”

The program will be directed by Kim Cobb, ADVANCE professor and Georgia Power Chair in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Early program activities include curriculum design for undergraduates, including creation of an “Energy and Climate” minor and a climate solutions lab. The program will also host speakers and roundtable events to showcase Georgia Tech’s contributions to global change-related subjects including energy, food and water supply, air quality, ocean health, public policy, and economics. Objectives include possible expansion of academic programs to graduate students, and growth of new partnerships both within Georgia Tech and with public and private partners.

“The initial thrust of the Global Change Program will focus on undergraduate education and the creation of critical connections among our research and academic faculty,” said Cobb. “Our students want exposure and real-world, hands-on experience with these topics as they enter the workforce. Growth of current programs like the Carbon Reduction Challenge and development of new programs will allow future generations of learners to understand issues of global change from the vantage point of their own discipline.”

The Global Change Program is initially supported by seed funds from the Office of the Provost and the Executive Vice President for Research, and through a $500,000 gift from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The gift builds upon the successful expansion of Cobb’s Carbon Reduction Challenge to co-op and internship students who partner with their employer to design and implement a carbon reduction project that delivers cost savings.

The co-curricular initiative is a partnership between Cobb and Beril Toktay, professor in the Scheller College of Business and faculty director of the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business.

“We believe this is a critical time to support an initiative as exciting as the Global Change Program,” said John A. Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. “With its focus on solutions to our pressing global challenges, in particular the challenge of climate change, the program will make Georgia Tech a leader in creating positive change. We are grateful to President Peterson, Dr. Cobb, President Emeritus Clough, and the entire administration for their commitment to this important work.”

Two councils will be established in support of the program. A faculty advisory council has been established to help shape program activities and ongoing strategic objectives. Chaired by Clough, the council is an extension of the initial executive committee. An external advisory board will also be established.

“The implications of global change are economic, environmental, and cultural,” said Clough. “The work is happening all over campus, and Georgia Tech has a tremendous opportunity to influence the scholarship and policy solutions that address issues of global change and ready students for the careers of the future.”

EDITOR"S NOTE: This item was adapted from a story by Susie Ivy published on March 19, 2018, in the Georgia Tech News Center

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