Want to hear some jaw-dropping stats? Two thirds of all extreme weather events in the last 20 years were influenced by human-caused climate change, and average wildlife populations have dropped by 60% in the last 40 years. Around 50% of all carbon emissions are emitted by the richest 10% of the world’s population, and yet 200 million of our poorest people will be displaced by climate change by 2050.
So here’s the question: how do we manage the biggest imaginable balancing act of all time, with the most precious thing in the word – our world? How do we satisfy our own current economical and sustenance requirements without simultaneously bulldozing the needs of future generations? There has never been a greater need for qualified individuals who understand how the Earth functions and responds to human activities. Time is literally running out: according to the UN, climate change could be irreversible by 2030. It’s time to join the climate change front line!
If David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are your superheroes, tackle some of humanity’s most critical issues with an eye-opening Climate and Sustainability, Environmental Science or Sustainable Development course in Oxford or Cambridge this summer 2023! Investigate our rapidly changing climate, accelerated loss of biodiversity and dwindling fossil fuel supplies – and how they line up with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – and construct your own tangible solutions. Answer thought-provoking questions such as ‘how are we coping with the impending threat of global warming?, ‘how will migration shape the changing face of our communities and cultures?’ and ‘why is social inequality and conflict increasing?’
A complex interdisciplinary field, a climate and sustainability course is ideal for anyone interested in a university degree in this field, or for those who are curious about a career in conservation, sustainability, environmental research or education, or even in guiding businesses in building more sustainable practices.
Best Climate and Sustainability Summer Courses for High School Students (13-18)
Young people possess the massive power to fix the previous generations’ mistakes and hold decision-makers accountable. After all, it’s your future on the line! Scale up your efforts this summer with these inspiring courses from a wide range of providers that will equip you with the right skills to accelerate climate action!
Let’s kick off with highly-accredited Oxford Royale’s popular new Racing Extinction: Climate, Politics & Global Leadership course for ages 13-18, resident in a prestigious University of Oxford college. This all-encompassing course offers a comprehensive introduction to how the fields of climate science, politics, law and leadership intersect in the race against extinction – and what possible career pathways they can lead to post-university. You’ll investigate key global issues such as climate change, natural resources, food instability, wildlife conservation, as well as the essential roles of national governments and the United Nations. This course is particularly interactive – ideal for those who favour a hands-on approach – utilising an innovative mix of small-group collaborative projects, compelling guest speakers and exciting case studies.
St Andrews (run directly by the highly regarded university) offers an academically robust Sustainable Development course for ages 16-18, situated in the scenic seaside town of St Andrews in Scotland. Very of-the-moment (including a module on the Covid-19 pandemic), this course supports students to come up with their own innovative solutions to our present-day environmental issues. You’ll tackle dilemmas such as how to provide and distribute enough energy and clean water for our exponentially growing population. A big plus of this course is that its location and environment provide a unique microcosm to carry out practical sustainability projects, and the course is three weeks long – great if you’re looking for a longer immersive experience than the typical two week courses offered by other providers (and for around the same price)!
Oxbridge Academic Programs by Worldstrides offers diversity of location: it runs a Sustainable Development course in Cambridge as part of its flexible ‘Cambridge Tradition’ programme for ages 13-15, and an Environmental Science course in Oxford for ages 15-18, as part of its equivalent ‘Oxford Tradition’ programme.
In a nutshell, the difference between the two courses (other than location and age range!) is that Sustainable Development in Cambridge is more people-focused, whereas Environmental Science in Oxford is – you guessed it – more interested in the science behind the headlines. The Sustainable Development course is an exploration of how economics, geography, business principles and the work of governments and international organisations can be harnessed to minimise the damage to our natural environment. The Environmental Science course, however, delves into atmospheric science, chemistry, and ecology, and investigates the benefits and pitfalls of current solutions such as electric cars, lab-grown meat and radical lifestyle changes.
Want to keep your options open? If you need more variety, industry-leading Bucksmore Education is for you. It offers an Environmental Science and Geography course for ages 16-18 as part of its ‘Advanced Studies’ programme in Cambridge. This unique course enables students to experience life as a Cambridge undergraduate and allows a choice of two university-level subjects. Choose Environmental Science and build a foundational knowledge of human and physical geography, and then add on Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science or Engineering to mix things up!
If you like to be beside the seaside (just a 10 minute stroll away!), take a look at Summer Boarding Courses’ Sustainable Futures course, resident at Earlscliffe School in Folkestone for ages 13-17. This thought-provoking course encourages sustainable living and individual responsibility. Through a mixture of theoretical and practical activities, you’ll get into the nitty gritty of both global and uniquely local initiatives (such as ‘life on the coast’ and locally-sourced food – a fantastic way to put such complex subjects into real-life context) and their interaction with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. But perhaps the best thing about this course is that you’ll get to try out some exciting activities connected to sustainable development such as kayaking and paddle-boarding, visit a sustainable farm, and embark on a coastal expedition!
Best Climate and Sustainability Summer Courses for adults (18+)
The climate and sustainability sector is growing rapidly, unsurprisingly! Top jobs include being an Environmental Lawyer, Renewable Energy Scientist, Environmental Engineer or Conservation Scientist. You might have just finished or be part of the way through a climate and sustainability-focused university degree, or you might be looking to either kickstart your career or change direction. Prime yourself for your next move with one of these fantastic summer courses for 2023!
The award-winning Oxford Summer Courses loom large in the adults category. They run a whole range of courses in the climate and sustainability field, located in Cambridge and Oxford, and for a range of age groups – including adults aged 18-24 years.
Its Environmental Science course for ages 18-24 explores sustainability and climate change from a scientific perspective. You’ll develop an understanding of the interactions between physical, chemical and biological processes in relation to environmental pollution, conservation and natural resource management. And you get the classic academic mega-dilemma of Oxford or Cambridge, as the course runs in both locations for adults. (Psst: still a teen? Check out Oxford Summer Courses’ Environmental Science courses in Oxford for ages 13-15 and 16-17!)
Getting a little too technical? Oxford Summer Courses does a brilliant International Development course for ages 18-24 in Oxford. This course looks to the future and has a much more political slant: you’ll learn about the nature of inequality in human development and take a magnifying glass to the theories surrounding migration – how does it shape our communities and draw on diminishing natural resources, and how can we make migration both sustainable and fair? (This course is also available for ages 16-17, also in Oxford.)
Finally, Oxford Summer Courses do a Sustainable Engineering course in Oxford for ages 18-24 that offers a unique engineering-focused perspective: a fantastic choice for engineering students who are keen to extend their knowledge in this specialised field to benefit future career plans. You’ll learn how engineers can address environmental threats such as diminishing fossil fuel supplies, as well as how to design and assess renewable energy systems. (If you’re aged 16-17 and considering a degree in this field, test-drive the subject with this equivalent course instead!)
Lady Margaret Hall (LMH), an official college of the University of Oxford itself, does a very interesting one for adults (and it’s for ages 19+ so an option if you’re older than 24) called PPE: Climate Change, Politics and Environmental Justice. Using an interdisciplinary approach incorporating politics, philosophy, and economics, this course is about assessing the consequences of both action and inaction on climate change and examining the complex political challenges faced by governments and international organisations in tackling global emissions, taking a closer look at the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. A particularly fascinating angle to this course is that of climate ethics and environmental justice: it tends to be those who are least responsible for emissions who are likely to suffer the most. So what’s the solution?
The jury’s in!
For teens, our vote is for Oxford Royale’s ‘Racing Extinction: Climate, Politics & Global Leadership’ course for ages 13-18 in Oxford. If you want to gain a broad understanding of climate and sustainability as you’re not ready to decide which area of the subject you’d like to specialise in just yet, and prefer to learn in an interactive way with plenty of imaginative group projects and guest speakers, this dynamic course is for you. As an added bonus, you get to live in a real University of Oxford College, and as a provider, Oxford Royale always gets rave reviews from its students!
For adults, we reckon Lady Margaret Hall’s PPE: Climate Change, Politics and Environmental Justice course is the one to go for – it’s broad in its scope but with the thought-provoking angle of environmental justice, which isn’t commonly included on other syllabuses. LMH’s courses are designed by academics of the University of Oxford itself, so you can be sure of its intellectual heftiness, and, again, you get to live in a proper Oxford University College! But Engineers – don’t discount Oxford Summer Courses’ Sustainable Engineering course: it’s fantastic if you’re keen to specialise in this area and we haven’t seen this course elsewhere – snatch it up quickly!
Whatever you decide, maximise your summer this year and do something incredible – register for a climate and sustainability course today! Enjoy!