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Back to Blog April 10, 2024

Tyler Faculty Take a Lead in Climate Action

Author: Wanda Motley Odom

For the last two years, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture Rob Kuper has been diligently working with fellow faculty members to organize around the topic of climate change, particularly how institutions such as Temple University can reduce their use of fossil fuels.

On April 18, Kuper will combine his efforts with other proponents of decarbonization at Temple for a community conversation, “Your Role in Decarbonizing Temple,” about innovative solutions to promote the use of renewable energy and make the university’s energy infrastructure less reliant upon fossil fuels.

The event, co-organized by the Temple University Libraries, Temple’s Office of Sustainability, Tyler School of Art and Architecture, and other entities, will focus on how to combat climate change and feature professors, student leaders, university administrators and climate leaders from other institutions.

“This really came out of the Tyler Climate Action Network and topics we have been discussing in in Tyler School of Art and Architecture’s Collegial Assembly,” which was the first collegial assembly of Temple’s 17 colleges and schools to endorse the recommendations for Temple University to decarbonize that are based upon the work of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said Kuper.

The recommendations include publicly reporting investments in fossil fuels, divesting from fossil fuels; developing a plan with goals and dates for reducing energy consumption, including true zero use of fossil fuels, by 2050; adapting current energy and utility infrastructures to use less energy and/or convert to renewal energy sources; prioritizing adaptive reuse in all future development, such as the retrofitting of the Paley Library for the new building for the College of Public Health, and banning the purchase of carbon offsets, which involves paying another entity to emit less to offset Temple’s carbon footprint.

Kuper, who also will host a faculty workshop in May on integrating climate change content into any curriculum, said that Cory Budischak, PhD, Associate Professor of Instruction in Electrical Engineering, will set the stage in the morning by defining general concepts and hurdles of decarbonization, particularly at Temple, followed by a panel of three student leaders representing Temple Student Government, Temple Democrats, and Temple Climate Action. In the afternoon, a discussion of Temple’s physical plant operations will take place.

“Heat and electricity are really the biggest challenges but things that Temple can actually change,” said Kuper, adding that four peer institutions will also be participating to share what climate actions their institutions have taken or plan to take and how students can get involved. Other universities include Penn State, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and UC Davis.

The event is one in a six-part series “A Time to Act: Responses to the Climate Crisis within and Beyond the University” taking place at the Charles Library and other locations on campus. Along with Tyler, Temple Libraries and Temple’s Office of Sustainability, the series is sponsored by the Center for Sustainable for Communities, Tyler Climate Action Network, and the College of Liberal Arts Department of Geography and Urban Studies.

When asked how achievable decarbonization goals at Temple would be, Kuper replied, “It would be a dramatic change, but it’s a change that is necessary. It’s a topic that we need to confront collectively. This will require support among all groups at Temple, administration, faculty, staff, and students.”

Students, faculty, and staff who are interested in learning about or contributing to decarbonization at Temple can begin by reading the Recommendations for Temple to Decarbonize and attending the April 18 event on decarbonization.

Become familiar with the Temple Office of Sustainability’s plans, reports, and resources, including the 2010 and 2019 climate action plans, and participate in one of several opportunities to give feedback related to the development of the 2024 Sustainability Action Plan.

Students can contact and work with Temple Student Government, sign the petition that Temple Climate Action has created, and speak to faculty and administrators in support of the recommendations.

The Collegial Assemblies in Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Boyer College of Music and Dance, College of Engineering, and College of Liberal Arts have all endorsed the Temple recommendations, as has the Department of Biology and several student groups. Faculty interested in bringing this to the attention of their respective school or college collegial assembly can contact Rob Kuper for help at rkuper@temple.edu