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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

  • It also signals the need to prepare students for jobs in clean tech and climate-related fields, and help researchers see the field through new lenses.
  • The various efforts are wide-ranging and span hard sciences and other fields. There's often an interdisciplinary structure to match how cross-cutting and multidimensional the problem is.

Driving the news: Princeton University yesterday announced a "transformative gift" from the High Meadows Foundation, a philanthropy co-founded by an alum.

  • The money will expand the school's interdisciplinary environmental institute, with a focus on climate change, energy, biodiversity, food and water.
  • The amount was not disclosed, but spokesperson Ben Chang said, "the gift will ensure that environmental research at Princeton will be supported into the next half-century and beyond."

Where it stands... Here are a few more recent examples:

  • Columbia University said in July that it's establishing the "Columbia Climate School."
  • Stanford in May said it's creating a new interdisciplinary climate and sustainability school.
  • Last week brought the announcement of the Climate Social Science Network headquartered at Brown University.

The big picture: Those are just a few schools rolling out new degree programs, bolstering in-house energy and climate think tanks and more in recent years.

  • For instance, last year the University of Dayton introduced new bachelor's programs in sustainability and this year the University of Miami launched a new master's program in urban sustainability and resilience.
  • Or take the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. In 2014, it had two full-time staff and three junior-level researchers, and now has over 60 staff and researchers, per Institute-supplied figures.
  • And that tally does not include staff working with the Climate Impact Lab, an initiative launched a few years ago with Rutgers, the University of California and the Rhodium Group.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden's expanding climate orbit

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images     

News emerged Sunday night that President-elect Joe Biden plans to tap Brian Deese to direct the National Economic Council inside the White House.

Catch up fast: He was a senior climate aide late in the Obama era, helping to craft the Paris climate deal, and held senior roles at White House Office of Management and Budget and the NEC.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
7 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.