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Why saving the planet needs all our skills - not just those of scientists

10th July 2019

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This article is sponsored by The Cabot Institute

For the first time, warnings about the global climate crisis finally seem to be gaining traction. 

Young people all around the world want to make a change, and are working to influence public bodies and corporations to start thinking long-term about what they need to do to save our future. 

Image credit: Joël de Vriend on Unsplash

We’ve seen young researchers, activists and politicians taking a stand. But now we need to start seeing the climate crisis not only as a science-related issue, but as a global, interdisciplinary problem. 

What does this mean? Essentially, that in order to make sustainable and long-term changes that will save our future, there is a vital need to collaborate between different disciplines. Nancy Lee, Global Policy Lead at the Wellcome Trust in London, explains that “it’s only by crossing cultures and collaborating beyond disciplines that we’ll be able to solve the great challenges of our time.”

Research needs to catch up with the real world and fill the gaps, providing independent data to educate as well as offer real solutions to the climate crisis. We’re talking everything from sociological and economic research, all the way to creating innovative materials or finding new methods to resolve the issue of the non-recyclable waste. 

In the introduction for an article in the scientific journal PNAS, researchers Wändi Bruine de Bruin and M. Granger Morgan write about exactly this: “Climate scientists are needed to understand how the climate is likely to change. Engineers are needed to develop technologies to reduce future emissions of greenhouse gases. Psychologists and other behavioral scientists are needed to understand the main drivers of human behavior, as well as how to design communications and interventions that tackle those drivers in a way that promotes needed behavior change. However, too often, experts from these different fields do not know how to talk with each other. They may not know how to work together, or even perceive the importance of doing so.”

For a recent piece in The GuardianUS congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio Cortez spoke to Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thunberg explained that young people are most concerned and active in fighting for change because it’s “Our future that is at risk.”

She continued: “Most of us know that this is going to affect us in our lifetimes – it’s not just something that might happen in the future. 

“It’s already here and it’s going to get worse, and many of us understand that this is going to make our lives much worse. And also that as young people, we aren’t as used to the system. We don’t say, “It’s always been like this, we can’t change anything.””

Thunberg is right. So, what’s the next step? 

The climate-focused masters that any graduate can qualify for 

If you want to be part of the global fight against climate change, you might be interested in finding out how education can help.  

We’re representing a Master’s by Research in Global Environmental Challenges at The Cabot Institute in Bristol, which might be a great course to consider if you want to have a direct impact on fighting the climate crisis in the future. 

Here’s some information about the course. Let’s see if we can pique your interest!

Green city, green university

The programme is based in a leading environmental city, Bristol, which was awarded the status of 'European Green Capital' in 2015, and where the Bristol Green Capital Partnership provides an impressive legacy - drawing together over 800 organisations committed to a 'sustainable city with a high quality of life for all'. 

Furthermore, the University of Bristol is committed to becoming a carbon neutral campus by 2030 and makes significant investments in education, research and estates towards its sustainability goals. It’s also the first university to declare a climate emergency.

No need to hold a BSc – although you’re welcome if you do!

The new Global Environmental Challenges masters is for young people with any degree, from humanities to science, who are ready to tackle the climate crisis. The course requires a range of people in order to create multi-skilled teams to find new ways to approach current problems, on subjects ranging from 3D printing, clean air, artistic activism, experimentation on the Chilean coast, to what history can teach us about disaster resilience.  

Unique opportunities to educate and propose solutions

This new masters gives its students the chance to work with a leading supervisor and like-minded peers to deliver a one-year research project that they are passionate about. The team is there to support students in developing their own skills – like problem-solving – and tap into their curiosity to collaborate with a diverse range of students in an innovative way.

If one of the 58 projects currently available doesn’t quite resonate with you, you can even propose your own project to make it entirely your own.

Students meet each other to share ideas but also have a direct relationship within the relevant school for their research area, allowing them to fully take advantage of a wide-ranging research community.


On top of being the second most targeted university by top UK employers, with its graduates being amongst the highest paid in the UK, who do you think public and private employers will turn to implement the solutions these students have come up with

Obvious, isn’t it? It could be you.

And if this is not enough to make you consider applying – let’s see what students and alumni have to say about the Cabot Institute...

The best thing about the Cabot Institute is its community. They have absolutely changed the way I think about science, research and teaching.”

– Eleni Michalopoulou


 “Being part of the Cabot Institute over the course of my PhD in Bristol has enabled me to build a platform for my research beyond my discipline and to develop essential skills as an early career academic.”
– Alice Venn

“The Cabot Institute provided me with so many opportunities beyond a standard research degree, which were invaluable to me in finding my new career in an energy and climate change think tank.”
– Keri McNamara  

Find out more about The Cabot Institute, as well as funding options and applications requirements, by clicking here. Hurry though - the deadline for applications is August 1st

Lead image credit: Joël de Vriend on Unsplash

Testimonials image credits: Courtesy of the Cabot Institute, the students and alumni

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