The KIETS Climate Leaders Program focuses on solutions to mitigating or reversing negative effects of climate change via technical, managerial, political, or economic approaches that, if adopted, offer a promise of impactful developments that will help humanity deal with this existential threat. The next generation will experience the most direct effects of climate change in their lifetimes; therefore, it is critical to support emerging leaders to take action. The program supports the Scholars’ engagement with our world’s best leaders and organizations working on climate change solutions to help empower, educate and inspire young people to embark on careers and become innovative leaders in mitigating climate change, which affects almost all aspects of people’s lives. It is expected that the Scholars will become a network of committed emerging leaders in the area of climate change solutions. The 2023 cohort of 15 students is strengthening their understanding, communication, engagement and leadership around climate change through their work with water quality, biodiversity, agriculture, carbon capture/sequestration, energy and material alternatives, landscape and building design, public policy, and environmental justice and equity. Their three to six-month internship placements are strengthening the workforce necessary to combat climate change impacts.
The CLP program is led by Amanda Mueller who was promoted in December 2022 to Program Director. In 2023, Ms. Mueller is supported by CLP Senior Faculty Fellow Dr. Jeremiah Johnson (Associate Professor with the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering). Together they work with the Scholars and Faculty Mentors to develop effective programs to highlight and disseminate the Scholars’ activities. The program has expanded from the 10 students in 2022’s inaugural cohort, to 15 students in 2023. These 3 undergraduate and 12 graduate students, representing 6 NC State Colleges, are paired with 16 NC State Faculty Mentors who help guide their progress in the program. The Scholars began their program in January 2023 and attend monthly evening sessions throughout the year. The Scholars will be completing their internships during the summer and/or fall of 2023.
The CLP is partnering with with NC State faculty, staff and programs, community members, government, non-profits and businesses for funding, programming and internship positions. These include Breakthrough Energy, Don’t Waste Durham, Circular Triangle, Bipartisan Policy Center, North Carolina Coastal Federation, Sustaera, RTI International, NC Clean Energy Technology Center, national laboratories, NC Department of Environmental Quality, etc. A three-day Leadership Academy was held May 8-10, 2023 in Morehead City, NC and the scholars and faculty engaged with several community members to learn of the climate impacts on and needs of the community. The first Climate Leaders Symposium (October 10-11, 2022) was very successful. The 2023 Symposium will be held September 28-29, 2023 at Hunt Library and will be open to the public and free of charge thanks to financial support from the NC State Sustainability Fund. CLP Scholars will participate in the symposium by sharing the experiences and information learned during their internships through talks and poster presentations. The Provost and the Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Initiative are collaborating in support of the CLP program. Program support funds for 2023 were received from the Provost’s office, Eastman Chemical, NC State Sustainability Fund, internship hosts as paid internships and Breakthrough Energy (to support five graduate students in the 2023 cohort).