Universities on Fire
Higher Education in the Climate Crisis
Scientists agree that we are on the precipice of a global climate crisis. How will it transform colleges and universities?
In 2019, intense fires in the San Francisco Bay Area closed universities and drove afflicted people to shelter at other campuses. At the same time, extraordinary fires ravaged eastern Australia. Several universities responded by promising material and research support to damaged businesses while also hosting refugees and emergency response teams in student residence halls. This was an echo of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina on Tulane University in 2005.
In Universities on Fire, futurist Bryan Alexander explores higher education during an age of unfolding climate crisis. Powered by real-world examples and the latest research, Alexander assesses practical responses and strategies by surveying contemporary programs and academic climate research from around the world. He establishes a model of how academic institutions may respond and offers practical pathways forward for higher education. How will the two main purposes of education—teaching and research—change as the world heats up? Alexander positions colleges and universities in the broader social world, from town-gown relationships to connections between how campuses and civilization as a whole respond to this epochal threat.
Current studies of climate change trace the likely implications across a range of domains, from agriculture to policy, urban design, technology, culture, and human psychology. However, few books have predicted or studied the effects of the climate crisis on colleges and universities. By connecting climate research to a deep, futures-informed analysis of academia, Universities on Fire explores how climate change will fundamentally reshape higher education.
About the Author
Bryan Alexander (MANASSAS, VA) is an internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher. A senior scholar at Georgetown University and the creator of the Future Trends Forum, he is the author of Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education and The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media.
"In Universities on Fire, Bryan Alexander explores how the climate crisis will impact higher education institutions, particularly until 2100. He covers impacts on campus, research, and teaching, and how these activities are already changing to respond to climate change. He also investigates the relationship between universities and local communities, as well as national and international structures. Different scenarios are presented, as well as practical options for acting on them."
"Universities on Fire is an engaging and highly topical book. Replete with fantastic examples of innovations and visions of the future for universities, this book provides useful practical recommendations and covers how climate change will impact all relevant areas of universities, including teaching, research, engagement, and campus operations. There are not many accounts of how the university as a physical space will be affected by the evolving climate crisis, so this book will be relevant to the leadership of universities around the world."
"The labs of the world's great universities gave us the warning about the climate crisis—but now these campuses, like all other institutions, have to deal with its scary reality. This book offers some sage ideas about what it means to teach and study amidst a conflagration."
|Johns Hopkins University Press|
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