BRENDAN HORAN ’21
Professor Mark Silk, Director of the Greenburg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, in conjunction with other faculty including Professor of Physics and Environmental Science Christoph Geiss and Professor of German Studies Johannes Evelien, has created a new group on campus to address environmental issues: Climate Change Plus (CC+).
CC+ is a weekly lunch gathering of both students and faculty to discuss climate change and the environment, along with other intersecting issues, particularly religion. Student attendee Will Winter ’18 stated that “The faith-based component of the program grounds the issue in moral language drawn from religious traditions and accessible scientific language. It’s a unique thing going on at Trinity.” Another member, Parker Fiske ’18, described it as “a forum to get everyone with green initiatives on the same page,” adding that the group facilitates communication between those who are involved with various environmental organizations across campus.
One recent initiative of the group was to attend a conference in Boston, hosted by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, for religious leaders and climate scientists to examine “the possibility of taking joint action to address the challenge of climate change in the Bay State.” The conference itself was organized in part by Mr. Silk and the Greenberg Center.
The motivation behind starting the group was to “create the campus culture that we were interested in,” according to Mr. Silk. This idea is nothing new. Several years ago, Mr. Silk and other faculty proposed “theme houses” as a way for students with similar interests, such as climate change, to live together and discuss these issues in a non-academic setting. However, the College ultimately did not take up the idea and the plan fell through. Still, Mr. Silk and other professors were determined to create an environment in which students and faculty could communicate with one another outside of the classroom on critical environmental issues.
In line with that objective, said Mr. Silk, their weekly meetings are not dominated by professors lecturing students but rather by a natural dialogue between peers united by their concern with the environment. Mr. Winter added that “CC+ is bringing Trinity students and faculty together for an informed discussion on climate change and its global consequences. There are a wide variety of students with different disciplinary backgrounds at each discussion, as well as industry experts.” Mr. Fiske also highlighted the importance of the program to Trinity, remarking that it is critical for “students to engage with faculty and start to hear how to make Trinity more sustainable, and to act as a model for other institutions.”
Mr. Silk added that “climate change is the critical issue of our time—it’s an issue that engages a lot of students at Trinity, and it should engage more—that’s what CC+ does.”
CC+’s next meeting is on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at which Shaun Casey, a religion adviser to former Secretary of State John Kerry, will be speaking about the Paris Climate Accord.