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UF Climate Science Concentration bridges science and communication

By Hannah O. Brown

In less than a year, Russell Anderson plans to be working hands-on, surveying coastal planning projects worldwide.

Anderson is a second-year master’s student studying sustainable development, and he is one of a number of students who have decided to pursue UF’s Concentration in Climate Science, an interdisciplinary concentration through the School of Natural Resources and Environment and in collaboration with the Florida Climate Institute.

“Internationally, everybody is really trying to plan for the population of what will happen by 2050, with 70 percent of people being in low-lying urban areas,” Anderson said. “That’s over seven billion people, coast-to-coastline, all stuck in urban centers.”

Through taking classes within the concentration, Anderson has gained professional skills and insight into climate change issues on a global scale.

“It really made sense based on my professional interest long term, and it was also a chance to really get educated about [climate change effects] that we are already starting to see happening in certain areas,” Anderson said.

The idea for the UF Climate Science Concentration was first conceived by faculty who were considering the notion of establishing a certificate program, geared toward professionals.

With the basic structure of the concentration already in motion, SNRE Director Tom Frazer suggested FCI and SNRE switch their focus, in the short term, to enhancing the skills of graduate students instead.

“I suggested that there was actually a more immediate need to offer those courses to our students rather than the place-based professionals,” Frazer said. “And a concentration, at the time, was a more effective way to start to put a focus on climate in the curriculum.”

Read more about the Climate Science Concentration.