For the second year in a row, Boston College will send a delegation of faculty and students to observe the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, to be held November 6-18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The group will attend events organized around the negotiations among parties to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change. This year, the University has had almost a full year to plan and prepare for the trip, a sharp contrast to last year when formal approval was received just prior to the start of the fall term.

COP27—technically the 27th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to international climate accords dating back to 1992—brings together nations to negotiate and coordinate governmental efforts to combat climate change. Most of those proceedings are closed. BC attendees will be able to attend the many public-facing events and exhibits.

The COP27 delegation will include eight undergraduate students, six graduate students, and five faculty members, said Jim West, an assistant director with the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society, who has been coordinating many aspects of the trip and will also attend.

“The excitement level is very high,” said Professor of Political Science David Deese, another attendee. “This year we are much better organized, focused, and supported by the University. The Schiller Institute has picked it up and they have appropriate administrative resources. We have had much more time to prepare and I think the stress level is lower and people can focus on being part of the group.”

Students and faculty were selected from a pool of applicants. Student attendees and alternates enrolled in a one-credit seminar organized by the Schiller Institute and coordinated by Associate Professor of the Practice of Philosophy David Storey, who was part of the delegation that went to COP26 last year in Glasgow, Scotland.

The delegation will travel in two groups, with Deese leading the group attending November 6-13; Professor of Law David Wirth and School of Social Work Assistant Professor María Piñeros-Leaño co-lead the second group attending November 14-18.

Schiller Institute Seidner Family Executive Director Laura Steinberg said taking the lead in organizing the delegation fits with the institute’s work to advance research, teaching, and interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly in areas of energy, health, and the environment. Funding for the delegation was provided by the Office of the Provost, Schiller Institute, Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, Carroll School of Management, Connell School of Nursing, BC Law School, BC School of Social Work, Theology Department, and the Office of University Fellowships.

“Climate change is one of the core areas for the Schiller Institute and we were eager to help the delegates prepare for their trip and then come back to campus to share stories and reflections on their Sharm El Sheikh experiences,” said Steinberg.

Storey said the seminar course sought to give students background on the many issues and disciplines that go into climate science and policy, as well as bring the group together as a team.

“We wanted to prepare students intellectually for what they are going to encounter at COP27. They are coming from a range of majors, undergraduate and graduate students. We wanted everybody to be on the same page,” said Storey. “We also wanted to build a team. COP can be a 300-ring circus—there is so much going on. The better coordinated they are, the better the rapport they have with each other, the better the delegation as a whole is going to do in terms of fulfilling its mission.”

Ed Hayward | University Communications | November 2022