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Universities on Fire

Higher Education in the Climate Crisis

Bryan Alexander

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Scientists agree that we are on the precipice of a global climate crisis. How will it transform colleges and universities?

In 2019, intense fires in the San Francisco Bay Area closed universities and drove afflicted people to shelter at other campuses. At the same time, extraordinary fires ravaged eastern Australia. Several universities responded by promising material and research support to damaged businesses while also hosting refugees and emergency response teams in student residence halls. This was an echo of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on Tulane University in 2005.

In Unive…

Scientists agree that we are on the precipice of a global climate crisis. How will it transform colleges and universities?

In 2019, intense fires in the San Francisco Bay Area closed universities and drove afflicted people to shelter at other campuses. At the same time, extraordinary fires ravaged eastern Australia. Several universities responded by promising material and research support to damaged businesses while also hosting refugees and emergency response teams in student residence halls. This was an echo of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on Tulane University in 2005.

In Universities on Fire, futurist Bryan Alexander explores higher education during an age of unfolding climate crisis. Powered by real-world examples and the latest research, Alexander assesses practical responses and strategies by surveying contemporary programs and academic climate research from around the world. He establishes a model of how academic institutions may respond and offers practical pathways forward for higher education. How will the two main purposes of education—teaching and research—change as the world heats up? Alexander positions colleges and universities in the broader social world, from town-gown relationships to connections between how campuses and civilization as a whole respond to this epochal threat.

Current studies of climate change trace the likely implications across a range of domains, from agriculture to policy, urban design, technology, culture, and human psychology. However, few books have predicted or studied the effects of the climate crisis on colleges and universities. By connecting climate research to a deep, futures-informed analysis of academia, Universities on Fire explores how climate change will fundamentally reshape higher education.

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Bryan Alexander

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In Universities on Fire, Bryan Alexander explores how the climate crisis will impact higher education institutions, particularly until 2100. He covers impacts on campus, research, and teaching, and how these activities are already changing to respond to climate change. He also investigates the relationship between universities and local communities, as well as national and international structures. Different scenarios are presented, as well as practical options for acting on them.

The labs of the world's great universities gave us the warning about the climate crisis—but now these universities, like all other institutions, have to deal with its scary reality. This book offers some sage ideas about what it means to teach and study amidst a conflagration.

A compelling account of the intersection of academia and climate change from one of our foremost futurists. Using trends and scenarios, Bryan Alexander offers a wide-ranging overview of the threats and opportunities posed to higher education by climate change. By expanding the option space, the book promotes insights that will help stakeholders of colleges and universities understand and assess ways to mitigate or adapt to disruptive challenges.

Bryan Alexander's Universities on Fire is an urgent and necessary book, a must-read around which whole conferences should be organized, because climate change will profoundly impact higher education, and, as Alexander argues, we have agency and a role to play in shaping its inevitable impacts. If we prepare now.

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Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
304
ISBN
9781421446486
Illustration Description
1 b&w photo, 11 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Abbreviations
Acknowledgements
Introduction: academia wades into the Anthropocene
Part 1: Universities on Fire, Under Water
1. Uprooting the campus
2. Doing research in the Anthropocene
3. Teaching to the

Abbreviations
Acknowledgements
Introduction: academia wades into the Anthropocene
Part 1: Universities on Fire, Under Water
1. Uprooting the campus
2. Doing research in the Anthropocene
3. Teaching to the end of the world
Part 2: The World, The College, and the Global Emergency
4. Town gown
5. The world
Part 3: Choices for Universities in a World on Fire
6. Best and worst case
7. What is to be done
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Bryan Alexander
Featured Contributor

Bryan Alexander

Bryan Alexander is an internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher. A senior scholar at Georgetown University, he is the author of The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media, second edition, and Gearing Up for Learning Beyond K–12.