University awarded £1m for new climate justice PhD Programme
Release Date 09 May 2014
The University of Reading has been awarded a £1m grant by the Leverhulme Trust to support a Doctoral Scholarships Programme in Climate Justice: Ethics, Politics, Law. The unique Programme will produce a new generation of experts with knowledge of both the science and ethical issues of climate change.
The University's Leverhulme Doctoral Scholarships Programme in Climate Justice will train 15 PhD students over three years, in subjects spanning the social sciences, philosophy, and physical sciences.
This new cohort of scientifically literate academics, lawyers, policy makers, and social scientists will be the first step in bridging the skills gap between the scientific and justice aspects of climate change.
A key aim is to develop research projects examining issues such as ethical approaches to policymaking given uncertainty in climate science, the communication of climate science, the ethical evaluation of new technologies, climate justice litigation and climate change as an international crime. The results can then be used to inform future climate change policy.
Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing humanity. Scientists have made significant progress in understanding the causes and likely environmental impacts of climate change, while social scientists and philosophers are addressing the political, ethical and legal challenges it presents. However it is universally recognised that there is a lack of academic expertise and advisers with sufficient understanding of both the scientific and justice aspects of climate change.
Catriona McKinnon, Professor of Political Theory who will lead the new programme, said: "Climate change is a physical phenomenon that creates social problems. These will only be successfully addressed by ethically informed policies. The new Programme will produce a cohort of post-doctoral experts with the required breadth of knowledge and understanding to enable the development and implementation of just climate policies.
"Innovative research projects stemming from the programme will lead to the creation of a new University of Reading Research Centre for Climate and Justice. This will establish Reading as a world-leading ‘one-stop-shop' for cutting-edge research which encompasses all aspects of climate change."
The University of Reading is home to the world-renowned Department of Meteorology and Walker Institute for Climate System Research. It also has outstanding departments of Politics and International Relations and Philosophy, as well as a leading Law School. Its Graduate School promotes interdisciplinary networking and offers professional and personal skills training.
University of Reading Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell, said: "We are delighted to have been awarded this grant by the Leverhulme Trust. The University is a hub of international research excellence with outstanding academics and a proven track-record of supporting doctoral candidates through to completion.
"We are in a unique position to offer a first-class doctoral programme, across the boundaries of many academic disciplines. In doing so, we will make a powerful contribution to the better understanding of climate change in all its different dimensions."
"The University has a thriving population of around 1200 research students from over 100 different countries. Our PhD graduates go on to enjoy successful careers in academia, as well as in other areas of public life.''
The University is one of fourteen winners of the Leverhulme Trust's new Doctoral Scholarships Programme.
Professor Gordon Marshall, Director of the Trust, said: "It is to be hoped that this first round of awards, modest though it is in terms of overall graduate student numbers, will kick-start a solution to the still unresolved problem of how adequately to fund graduate studies in the United Kingdom."
The Trust's Chairman, Niall FitzGerald, added: "We were delighted with the quality, imagination and aspiration of the bids received, so much so that we decided to offer not ten but fourteen awards. I look forward to the next round in three years' time."
The first cohort of five Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars will commence their studies under the Climate Justice Programme at Reading in October 2015. The scholarships will be advertised in the new year.
For more information about postgraduate research degrees at the University of Reading please contact the Graduate School