Global Climate Strike (9/16/19)

To the campus community,

The Global Climate Strike is an international movement that calls for action responding to climate change. Events related to this movement will take place around the world, including a strike scheduled Friday, Sept. 20, during which individuals will walk out of classrooms, workplaces, and homes to participate in public gatherings focused on climate change. Related events will be occurring in Missoula and on the University of Montana (UM) campus this week.

One of the key messages of the young people advocating for the Global Climate Strike is that their education fails to appropriately address the urgency of an impending climate crisis. As a public university, it is UM’s responsibility to communicate clearly our existing knowledge around climate science, and relay the importance and nuanced complexity of climate change and climate action to those in our community who are developing their own thoughts on this matter. UM serves as an important resource to our students as well as to the leaders and institutions that have the ability to act in response to climate change.

Education and research around climate change is a signature part of UM’s history and identity. Because of the breadth of our work on environment and sustainability across campus, we have identified Environment and Sustainability as one of UM’s Communities of Excellence. Our first in the nation Climate Change Studies program is one of our most popular minors. Our renowned programs in the natural and conservation sciences, environmental studies, philosophy, economics, geography, geosciences, and journalism all contribute thoughtful teaching and powerful research on the complexities of climate change and variability for our natural environment, society, and future.

A series of events will take place on campus from Tuesday, Sept. 17 to Wednesday, Sept. 25, to promote informed discussion and reflection about climate action throughout the campus community. Organized by our Climate Change Studies program and UM’s Office of Sustainability, the following events are free and open to the public:

  • Noon-1 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17 – Climate Action Roundtable with UM students, alumni, and faculty, Davidson Honors College Ephron Lounge
  • 5-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 19 – Communicating about Climate Panel Discussion, UC 326/327
  • 3:30-5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 23 – Teach-in on global climate justice with UM faculty members Paul Haber (Political Science), Katie Kane (English), Rosalyn LaPier (Environmental Studies), and Tobin Miller Shearer (History and African-American Studies), Liberal Arts 11
  • 3:30-5 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 25 – Talk by Diana Maneta of Missoula County on renewable energy, Liberal Arts 11

In addition to the events taking place at UM, student groups in Missoula are organizing a Global Climate Strike Friday, Sept. 20. If you wish to attend these events or provide students with an opportunity to do so or otherwise engage in this issue, some possibilities include:

  • Faculty may choose to discuss how this theme relates to course content during class time and/or assign work that ties class content to this theme. Resources for teaching can be found on the Climate Change Studies program website.
  • Faculty may choose to excuse students from class to take part in one or more events (per the class attendance/absence policy in the Academic Policies and Procedures of the UM Course Catalog), they may choose to assign alternative work for those who are absent from class, or they may choose to develop an assignment that engages students in attending an event (in lieu of attending class) and ties this to course outcomes
  • Faculty may cancel class to facilitate participation in associated events as long as they have permission from their chair and reschedule class time to another date within the fall 2019 semester
  • Staff may take leave to participate in one or more events, with their supervisors’ approval.

All instructors should anticipate questions from students about the consequences of an unexcused absence, if this is not already covered in the course syllabus. There is a possibility that the organizers of the events in town will also use space on the UM campus for additional activities the week of September 23-27.

I encourage UM faculty, staff, and students to consider the Global Climate Strike as an opportunity to engage in discussions about climate change, sustainability and the environment. Our university is a recognized leader in research, teaching and service in these important areas.

Jon Harbor, Provost


This message was sent by the Office of the Provost to all University of Montana administrators, faculty members, staff, and students.