Climate Lecture Series Draws Crowds

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

This fall, faculty from Penn Arts & Sciences, the Wharton School, and the Stuart Weitzman School of Design came together with undergraduates for the 1.5 Minute Climate Lecture series. Every Wednesday in September, crowds of more than 200 people gathered to hear brief lectures on the unprecedented actions needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

(L–R) Kimberlie Dupiton, C’22; Simon Richter, Class of 1942 Endowed Term Professor; and Brea Watkins, C’22

Brooke Sietinsons

The event, spearheaded by Simon Richter, Class of 1942 Endowed Term Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, was created in the spirit of the School’s long-running 60-Second Lectures. The lectures were extended to a minute and a half to recognize the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warning that temperature rise must be limited to 1.5°C in order to avoid the most drastic effects of global warming. We are already past 1°C.

Paul Sniegowski, Stephen A. Levin Family Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, gave the first lecture in the series. Faculty and student presentations included academic and personal reflections on climate change, all urging action. Topics ranged from changing precipitation in the Mongolian steppe and an astrophysicist’s long view of the earth’s changing temperatures to gentrification, greenspace, and water bottles on campus.

“The response to the event, in person and online, has been amazing,” says Richter. “The videos have been shared and viewed tens of thousands of times. Colleagues have told me they use the talks in their classrooms. I’ve seen indications that colleagues at other institutions in the U.S. and abroad want to put on their own 1.5 Minute Climate Lectures.”

The lectures are available here.