KIETS Climate Leaders Program



The KIETS Climate Leaders Program (CLP) 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 the direct effects of climate change. The program supports student scholars’ engagement with 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. It is expected that the Scholars will become a network of committed emerging leaders in the area of climate change solutions. The 2022 cohort of Scholars are strenthening their understanding, communication, engagement and leadership around climate change through their work with plant community monitoring, renewable energy, socioeconomics, community engagement, public policy, extreme weather events, carbon capture, etc. Their three to six-month internship placements are strengthening the work force necessary to combat climate change impacts.

The CLP program is led by Amanda Mueller – Program Manager (hired July 2021) and Dr. Roy He – KIETS Senior Faculty Fellow (Professor with the College of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences). Together the Senior Faculty Fellow and the Program Manager serve as mentors and role models to the Scholars and work with the Scholars and Faculty Mentors to develop effective programs to highlight and disseminate the Scholars’ activities. Dr. Mary Watzin (Retired Dean of the College of Natural Resouces) chairs a steering committee (currently 3 NC State faculty, one NC State professional staff, one UNC – Chapel Hill faculty member).

A new Climate Leaders Program website was launched in September 2021 inviting applications for the inaugural cohort. Ten NC State students (2 undergraduate, 8 graduate), representing 6 NC State Colleges, were selected as the inaugural cohort of Scholars. The Scholars are paired with 11 NC State Faculty Mentors who help guide their progress in the program. The Scholars began their program in January 2022 and attended monthly evening sessions in January (virtually), February, March and April. Monthly evening sessions will continue for the remainder of the year. The Program Manager presented at NC State’s Earth Fair on April 6, 2022. Nine of the ten Scholars have secured their internship placement with the final placement pending notification.

The CLP team has had conversations with multiple entities interested in partnering with KIETS on this endeavor and/or serving as internship hosts for future cohorts of students. These include the following: Don’t Waste Durham, Mann+Hummel, Breakthrough Energy, Bipartisan Policy Center, and the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. A two-day Leadership Academy was held May 8-10, 2022 in the Hunt Library and at the Walnut Creek Wetland Park in downtown Raleigh. The first Climate Leaders Symposium is scheduled for October 10-11, 2022 at Hunt Library. The symposium will be opened to everyone and will be free of charge. The CLP has received support from Eastman Chemical and the NC State Sustainability Fund to support the symposium. Many of the CLP Scholars, and their faculty mentors, are conducting research as part of their degree program. Experiences and information learned during their internships will be shared at the Fall 2022 Climate Leaders Symposium. The Provost and the Coastal Resilience and Sustainability Initiative are collaborating in support of the CLP program.