The second elective I took was ESCI 405: Global Environmental Change with Cameron Wake. Dr. Wake accompanied my SUST 501 class on one of our field trips and convinced me to enroll in this elective for the following semester. ESCI 405 provided me with a strong understanding of environmental science and why certain earth systems work the way they do. This course focused mainly on how earth systems are supposed to operate and how anthropogenic climate change has altered them. I also designated this course as an Honors class and did independent research with Dr. Wake studying the psychology behind what causes communities to react to climate change, specifically what convinces a coastal community to respond to sea-level rise.

Something I loved about this course was how we learned about WildCAP, which is the University of New Hampshire’s Climate Action Plan. Our major assignment for this class challenged us to suggest one program to be implemented in WildCAP 2.0 to reduce carbon emissions at UNH, which we presented to staff and faculty involved with the Sustainability Institute. Our group proposed Meatless Mondays for all dining facilities on campus. We did extensive research on the environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet and proved implementing this program would reduce the university’s carbon emissions by a little over 3 million metric tons per year.

While this class confirmed I was never meant to study the hard sciences, I enjoyed being academically challenged. The course material helped me to better understand the natural world around me. Similarly, my independent research introduced me to different methods of obtaining information and helped me learn a great deal about climate change policy. This research was my first exposure to the IRB process (though I did not end up undergoing it) and the first time I conducted research interviews. That experience has enabled me to go into other interviews with more confidence.

Chart detailing annual difference in carbon emissions and finances between the average meat eater and vegetarian

Psychological Drivers for the Inclusion of Sea-Level Rise Provisions in Municipal Plans A Study Comparing Swampscott, MA to municipalities on New Hampshire’s Seacoast16 KB