1st Annual HBCU Climate Change Student Conference

Inaugural HBCU Climate Change Student Conference Challenges Students to Become Climate Justice Advocates for Vulnerable Communities


April 22, 2013 — Dillard University’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice hosted the First Annual HBCU Climate Change Student Conference, Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change Theory and Experience, April 4 – 6, 2013. Over 100 students, faculty, staff, and environmental leaders from across the country came together to discuss the devastating effects climate change is having on vulnerable communities. The purpose of the inaugural Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Climate Change Student Conference was to educate minority students on climate change theory and experience as it relates to racial, social, public health, and economic disparities in the wake of weather related disasters. Nine HBCUs were represented at the conference including Dillard University, Morgan State University, Howard University, Spelman College, Southern University Baton Rouge, Texas Southern University, Tennessee State University, Florida A & M, and Meharry College.

The three day conference included a book signing, an undergraduate and graduate student poster session, a coastal community tour, and climate change sessions for middle school students from the Dillard University Emerging Scholars - STEM Program.

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HBCU Climate Change Initiative

While the fact of climate change is no longer subject to dispute, students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) need opportunities to engage with researchers and scientists about the expected impacts of climate change.

Eleven major international studies conducted from 1987 to 2002 all predict significant climate change-induced hazards, including increased flooding, higher mean atmospheric temperatures, higher global mean sea levels, increased precipitation, increased droughts, increased atmospheric moisture-holding capacity, increased heat waves, increased strength of storms, more energetic waves, storm surges that reach further inland, under-capacity of urban sewerage and drainage systems, increased blight, increased vulnerability of port cities, and disproportionate impacts on disadvantaged population segments.

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Black College Students and Faculty Leave Rio+20 Committed to Making HBCU's Global Hubs for Sustainability.

(Rio De Janeiro, Brazil) June 20-22, 2012 a delegation of students, faculty and alumni from United States based Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) attended the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development also known as the Rio+20 Earth Summit. Delegates included noted environmental justice scholars, innovators in sustainability, and human rights advocates who are currently advocating for stronger U.S. Environmental and Civil Rights regulations. This delegation is a part of the Growing HBCU Voices on Climate Change initiative led by the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University (DSCEJ) and the Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative.

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8th Grade Initiative

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University in collaboration with the Crescent City Chapter of the Links, Incorporated hosted the scholars of the eight grade initiative at the first annual HBCU Climate Change Student Conference. The day of activities focused on “S.T.E.M.-ulating the whole child included three interactive workshops delivered by Dr. Beverly Wright, Happy Johnson and Bernie Mizula. Dr. Wright presented first, explaining Climate Change and the effects it has on their lives. Following a video presentation with further details on climate change an interactive computer application was completed by al scholars demonstrating their personal role in climate change by calculating their carbon footprint score for themselves and their household.

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Student Climate Change Training

An HBCU Pre-COP17 Climate Change Training was convened on November 19, 2011 at Dillard University. The six (6) student delegates were given an overview of climate change, environmental justice, and briefed on the history of the COP17 process. Student delegates gave pre and post conference reflections of the COP17 trip to share their learning experience.

Since the COP17 Conference, the students have participated in conference calls and have developed a strategic plan to host an HBCU Climate Change Conference in the fall of 2012. The students have also started a student climate change blog to engage students across the globe with similar climate justice issues.


The Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative was founded in 2001 shortly after thousands of people from around the world gathered in The Hague, Germany for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 6th Conference of the Parties (COP6). During COP6, civil society groups coordinated the first Climate Justice summit as an official alternative forum to the COP6. Grassroots leaders shared stories of the impact of Climate Change and offered community based solutions for adaptation and mitigation. Several conference participants from the United States were inspired by the emerging global call for Climate Justice and saw the real need to develop a domestic counterpart. In April 2001, these participants founded The Environmental Justice Climate Change Initiative as a project of Redefining Progress, a California based Environmental Policy organization.

Read more: DSCEJ: EJCC Sponsor

Durban, South Africa

Growing HBCU Voices on Climate Change

A twelve-member delegation made up of six (6) African American students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), academics, human rights advocates, researchers, policy analysts, and environmental and climate justice leaders attended the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (COP17) Conference in Durban, South Africa, November 28 – December 9, 2011. Dr. Beverly Wright, executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) at Dillard University and Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan/Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University organized the trip to help raise climate justice awareness and develop student leaders on HBCU campuses.

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