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Oslo Pax 2019

Global Explorers Unite for Climate Justice

In 2019, a group of AUP undergraduates joined a network of young, international activists to take on one of the biggest challenges facing the world today – climate change. 

First, in the Spring semester, the Joy and Edward Frieman Environmental Science Center organized a three-day conference – Translating Science into Climate Action – which saw students confronting pressing environmental challenges in a series of faculty-led workshops. On the last day, alumna Gina Torry ’98, who works as senior advisor to the Nobel Peace Prize Global Programmes, invited any motivated students to keep up the momentum by forming a working sustainability group on campus. 

Clark Marchese was among them. Clark is a double major in international and comparative politics and environmental studies, with a minor in economics. “The environment has always been something of great interest to me,” he explains. “There’s a lot of anxiety around the climate crisis, but it can be reassuring to see that there are people working toward change.” Clark was one of four students who worked with Professor Elena Berg of the Frieman Center to develop proposals for how to make the University more sustainable.  

Their efforts led to Torry inviting them to take part in the 2019 Oslo Pax. Described as “a call to action on peace and climate change,” the two-day event aimed to develop, through subject-specific workshops, a outcomes document to be presented at the United Nations summit on climate change in September. The students participated in weekly calls with other young climate activists in the run up to the Oslo Pax. “There’s a huge emphasis on youth activism,” explains Clark.  

Each of the four students organized one of nine workshops at the conference; Clark’s workshop focused on climate education and was attended by the Canadian Education Minister. “My main takeaway was ‘think global, act local,’” says Clark. The students were quick to make use of what they’d learned at the conference, organizing a climate networking event to discuss sustainability issues on campus.

Later, they also had the chance to attend the COP25 climate conference in Madrid to see the results of their work being put into action. “It brought home for me the importance of individual action,” explains Clark. “When the future looks so dire, it shifts our focus to what we can do now.” Clark intends to continue fighting for sustainability issues during his time at AUP – and through further study upon graduation. The work of Clark and his fellow students is laying the groundwork for long-term changes in campus sustainability – ready for the next generation of AUP students to carry this progress forward.