The University of Reading

Partnering for the Planet

Climate change is the defining crisis of our generation, and it will be the lived reality for generations to come. Yet many people still do not understand the issue or feel able to respond to it adequately, including the very young people whose future will be most affected. It is vital that we work to equip people today and in generations to come with knowledge and understanding, so that we are all empowered to respond to and tackle the climate and ecological crisis facing our planet.

We strongly believe that to deliver a better global future, we must work together. We work alongside governments to inform and change public policy and perception. As an institution and community, we’re committed to taking leading, collective action to find lasting solutions – on a local, national and international scale.

Leading change and taking action

The University is a world leader in climate science, recently winning a prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of our pioneering research, teaching, stewardship and outreach on climate change. Our academics inform and influence polcy change both natioanlly and globally, and have played a leading role in reports of the Integovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

We rank 4th in the 2022/23 People & Planet University League and we’re committed to reaching net zero carbon by 2030. We refuse to invest in fossil fuels. We’ve already reduced our carbon footprint by half, only 2% of our waste goes to landfill, and 100% of our electricity has come from renewable sources since 2009.

We’re the first university in Europe to join the Menus of Change Universities Research Collaborative, which aims to provide healthy and sustainable meals on campus. And we’ve been awarded Fairtrade University Two Star status recognising our commitment to reducing the impact of our consumption, sustainable practices, and ethical support towards fairtrade communities and livelihoods.

Climate education in schools and colleges

At our Climate Education Summit in 2021 we brought together young people, scientists, teachers, policymakers and campaigners, to identify how a step change in climate and sustainablity education can be made in schools and colleges across the UK, so that young people have the skills and knowledge needed for the twenty-first century.

The National Climate Education Action Plan emerged from the Summit and was launched at COP26. Since then, we have continued to build the network and work with others to deliver action. We are proud that huge progress has been made and young people across the UK are already significantly benefiting from the impact of our collective actions.

Climate Ambassador Scheme

We have developed the Climate Ambassador Scheme, working in collaboration with STEM Learning, which connects schools and colleges around the UK with climate and sustainability experts to access free support and guidance. Involving partners from universities and research institutions around the UK, the Climate Ambassador Scheme has been adopted as a core part of the Department for Education Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.

Empowering trainee teachers

The University of Reading’s Institute of Education has developed a Climate Education and Sustainability Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Framework to empower trainee teachers to effectively incorporate climate education within their teaching – across all levels and subjects. The Framework is available to other teacher training providers.

All students of our teacher training courses should graduate with knowledge and understanding of the climate crisis and the skillset to support the young people they teach to build resilience and thrive in a world with a changing climate.

Supporting our students

At the University of Reading, all students have opportunities to develop an understanding of the impacts and challenges of both the changing climate and further decline of the natural world, equipping them with key skills and knowledge to make a positive difference in their future career and day-to-day life. In addition to relevant modules and activities, the RED Sustainable Action Award gives all our students the opportunity to develop awareness of sustainability issues, solutions and opportunities while developing their employability skills.

Short online courses

The University of Reading offers a range of short, online courses across a range of climate and sustainability-related topics, which are free to join.

For example, our 4-hour beginners course Planet Partners: Tackling the Climate Crisis Together investigates the impacts of climate change, the research being done to tackle it, and helps you understand what you can do to take meaningful action. This course is co-designed by two University of Reading students – Meteorology and Climate student Nick Mitchell, and German Studies student Emily Woodall – working closely with academics from the across the University.

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