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August 3, 2023

Students Take Proactive Role to Address Climate Change

The climate crisis is undeniable and peaking fast — how can we stop it?

The answer was highlighted over and over in the Office of Research Experiences & Education’s (OREE) presentation during the first UL Research Institutes Annual Research Symposium by experts in the field of sustainability education and research — youth. While we can’t shrug off the world’s responsibility of the climate crisis on the next generation, we can certainly create more leadership roles for youth to create and advocate for solutions.

One of OREE’s guest speakers, Prisha Shroff, is a scientist and inventor — and she’s 16 years old. Heading into her junior year of high school, Schroff already has an impressive resume under her belt, including serving as a youth consultant for Arizona State University’s sustainability teacher fellowship program, members of which attended the Research Symposium and served as panelists. Shroff is passionate, motivated, and determined to make a difference in solving the world’s climate crisis.

Chanda Jefferson and Prisha Shroff speaking
From left: Chanda Jefferson and Prisha Shroff speak during OREE's presentation during the Annual Research Symposium.

And she’s not alone in her fight.  

Also featured at the research symposium was Chanda Jefferson, recently the South Carolina Teacher of the Year, Einstein Fellow, and now the director of community engagement and outreach at the University of Pennsylvania. She’s building a bridge between the experts conducting the latest sustainability research in labs, and students in classrooms.

“Listening to student voices is imperative as we cultivate collective resilience,” Jefferson said.  

As Kelly Keena, senior director of OREE, stated during her opening remarks, OREE is rethinking education — students should be making the table, not just invited to it. And that’s where Keena hopes to engage the rest of the organization in bringing youth to the table and involving them in the fight for a safer world.   

Shroff summed it up at the end of her talk with a call to action for the audience.  

“How many of you believe that youth have the potential to change the world and create solutions to some of the problems that we see around us?” Shroff asked the audience. 

Everyone raised their hands.