Each fall, students in Beth Martin’s course on “International Climate Negotiations” learn about climate change while also gaining rare access to international climate policy negotiations. Martin, a teaching professor in environmental studies and interim director of the Washington University Climate Change Program, designed the course to engage students from a wide range of disciplines in discussions about climate change. This academic year, students’ fields of study included political science, engineering, sociology, chemistry, environmental analysis, social policy, and business.

Throughout the semester, students enrolled in the course study the past 30 years of international climate policy in preparation for a life-changing opportunity: a trip to the United Nations climate change conference.

In November, students arrived in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the 27th annual conference, known as COP27. Each student was assigned a particular topic of negotiation to explore. They sat in on negotiations, attended informational side events, and networked with global leaders and diplomats.

“Being in that U.N. environment cemented a lot of the things we had learned in class,” said chemistry major Sabrina Hu, Class of 2023. “And it helped us develop our own perspectives on what we think is necessary going forward.”

Students shared the experiences they gained at the conference by posting their observations and comments on the Research and Independent NGO Constituency (RINGO) website.

Students sit on a stage during a panel discussion
Washington University students joined young people from around the world at the Thailand Pavilion for a panel on climate advocacy facilitated by Kotchakorn Voraakhom, (far left), designer-in-residence for the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University.

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