UW Introduces New Climate Change Course


The University of Waterloo aims to tackle climate issues by offering a pilot course related to the “Wicked Problem of Climate Change” that will become available for undergraduate students starting in winter 2023.

This brand-new course will be designed and developed by a team of selected PhD candidates and taught to up to 60 senior undergraduate students. The course offering is in line with the school’s plan to develop talent to understand problems in a complex world and develop solutions for them. “We want to gather interdisciplinary perspectives on what is truly a wicked problem. The idea is to get a holistic approach by bringing in students from all faculties,” said Anna Esselment, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.

In addition to creating solutions for climate change, the course seeks to foster a unique interdisciplinary learning environment. Students will be bringing engineering, environmental, business, and governance knowledge to the classroom to provide unique perspectives on tackling the issue. 

The course’s structure draws influence from UW’s Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change; a hub that brings together Canadian scientists and students researching climate change in a way that empowers business, government, and civil society to respond effectively to the issue.

While UW currently offers other interdisciplinary programs, this course will be the first one that is open to students from all faculties, with no formal prerequisite courses required.

“It’s great to know that despite being from a non-science background, I can study and contribute to such a relevant world problem. I can bring some knowledge of risk management to the table, and working with students from other academic backgrounds sounds like a lot of fun,” said Nuwair Akram, Vice President of the Financial Analysis & Risk Management Student Association. 

UW is home to many doctoral researchers who study climate change from various perspectives. Six of these researchers, all PhD candidates, will be coming together in fall 2022 to design the course with the guidance of professionals from the Beta Teaching Innovation Incubator, designed to equip the researchers with pedagogical and teaching skills.

“These are young, enthusiastic researchers who are at the cutting edge of their projects,” Esselment said, explaining how the course will be equally beneficial to these researchers as they will gain relevant teaching experience. “It’s such a great mix of both the experts working on it while sharpening their teaching skills and these smart students eager to learn.”