We know that our planet is warming. 2020 was the joint warmest year ever recorded, while 2011 to 2020 was the warmest decade on record. Glaciers are melting and sea levels are rising, while extreme weather events and natural disasters now occur with increasing frequency, affecting life and livelihoods.
As scientists race to find solutions to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, the sad reality is that technology alone will not address this crisis. At an individual and societal level, we must change our behaviour and consumption habits. Issues of environment, climate change and sustainability are now societal problems, and policy makers increasingly acknowledge the importance of social responses.
As Ireland’s first climate change research centre with a core focus on humanities and social science perspectives, DCU’s Centre for Climate and Society is uniquely positioned to drive social responses to the challenge of climate change. Through research, innovation and engagement on the societal dimensions of climate change, it will increase our understanding of how change can be facilitated through communication and media, strengthened through policy and governance frameworks and driven through responses in our education system and in business. the Centre’s programme of activity from 2021 to 2024 will include:
With academic experts from DCU’s School of Law and Government, School of Communications, DCU Business School and DCU Institute of Education, the Centre’s members possess both recognised expertise and strong connections to key sectors of society that must be engaged to address climate change: our schools, businesses, media and policy makers. The Centre will build on strong relationships with organisations that range from the Department of the Taoiseach to the Environmental Protection Agency and Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
In 2019, the Centre’s Directors established the MSc in Climate Change: Policy, Media and Society, the first Master’s in Ireland to adopt a social science and humanities perspective to climate change. The course has grown from an initial intake of 13 students in the 2018/19, to 44 in 2019/20, and 61 students in 2020/21.
In 2020, the Centre’s directors also co-edited a book “Ireland and the Climate Crisis” which was a first of its kind comprehensive review of Ireland’s response to the climate crisis. It was launched by Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD.