UI Faculty Council unanimously backs climate action plan

The University of Iowa Faculty Council passed a resolution Tuesday making a commitment to advance action on climate change by university officials.

Protesters+take+part+in+an+11-minutes+sit-down+protest+during+the+Iowa+City+Climate+Strike+in+downtown+Iowa+City+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+4%2C+2019.+%28David+Harmantas%2FFor+The+Daily+Iowan%29
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UI Faculty Council unanimously backs climate action plan

Protesters take part in an 11-minutes sit-down protest during the Iowa City Climate Strike in downtown Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (David Harmantas/For The Daily Iowan)

Protesters take part in an 11-minutes sit-down protest during the Iowa City Climate Strike in downtown Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (David Harmantas/For The Daily Iowan)

David Harmantas

Protesters take part in an 11-minutes sit-down protest during the Iowa City Climate Strike in downtown Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (David Harmantas/For The Daily Iowan)

David Harmantas

David Harmantas

Protesters take part in an 11-minutes sit-down protest during the Iowa City Climate Strike in downtown Iowa City on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (David Harmantas/For The Daily Iowan)

Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

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The University of Iowa Faculty Council on Tuesday backed the student governments’ resolution in support of a climate-action plan.

The resolution came before Faculty Council after the UI Student Government and Graduate and Professional Student Government passed it earlier this fall. Faculty Senate briefly discussed the motion in October, but did not vote upon the resolution.

Faculty Senate President Sandra Daack-Hirsch said the resolution was reworked once it reached the Faculty Council to ensure it was factual and action-oriented. This way, she said, it would allow for UI faculty members to truly be a part of climate action on campus.

“This version is also being presented at Staff Council as a joint resolution to support the movement that students have started,” she said.

RELATED: UISG, GPSG unanimously pass resolution to fight climate change

Sustainability Charter Committee Co-Chair Erin Irish, the associate chair for Undergraduate Education/Director of Undergraduate Studies, said students have played an integral part in climate action on campus.

“The students who passed this resolution have taken a great role in a very important UI effort,” Irish said. “They brought it to the Sustainability Charter Committee at the end of the semester, and our goal is to present this resolution to President [Bruce] Harreld.”

Irish said the UI president’s reliance and emphasis on shared governance is the primary reason the resolution has been presented to all its branches.

The resolution will move to the Staff Council in December, Daack-Hirsch said. That will be the final branch of shared governance needed to approve the resolution, she said.

Physics and Astronomy Associate Professor Cornelia Lang, the department’s director of undergraduate studies, said the process to embed climate concerns and sustainability into the general-education course of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is active.

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“A gen-ed review committee has been commissioned this fall by Dean [Helena] Dettmer to look into this potential requirement,” Lang said. “We’ve been meeting all [semester] to add a sustainability component that is very broad … to encompass literature, science, and social science. This is happening. Students have been asking for this. It’s urgent.”

Lang said this initiative can be replicated across campus instead of just taking place in the liberal-arts college.

There are eight different work groups in development to help isolate every piece of climate consciousness and concern on campus, Daack-Hirsch said, including a sustainability-plan progress committee that will look at UI sustainability goals and ensure students and faculty members hold the institution accountable.

It is important to have faculty voices alongside student voices, especially when it comes to climate initiatives, Daack-Hirsch said.

“Once these work groups are formed,” Daack-Hirsch said, “we will need faculty and students to be a part of them to see the most success.”

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