As legislators and activists continue to debate and sound the alarm over global warming and extreme weather, West Los Angeles College has launched a Climate Change and Environmental Studies Associate of Arts Degree program.
“We believe this is the first degree of its kind offered by a California Community College,” said Dr. James M. Limbaugh, College President. “Establishing this program at West has been a personal goal of mine,” he continued. “In their recent report, the IPCC [Intergovenmental Panel of Climate Change] explicitly states that we are at a critical juncture. It is vitally important that our students understand the long-term implications our actions have on our environment—and on our future. I applaud the leadership shown by our science faculty in creating this important degree program.” While other institutions offer programs that center on the environment, West’s new program aims to specifically study climate change – making predictions based on comparing and contrasting the long term averages of conditions for a region including temperature records, precipitation records, fire hazards, drought susceptibility, species range shifts and more. The program will provide a broad background in the science of climate change, but also has components in disciplines such as humanities and social sciences, explained Jennifer Cole, assistant professor of Earth Science. Cole has an expertise in paleoclimate and earth surface processes. She received her B.A. from Rutgers University and Ph.D. from State University of New York at Stonybrook. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Earth Institute at Columbia University. “We’re focusing on one issue which is climate change but you can see how history, economics and biology can interact,” Cole said.