Philip Zuidema

Philip Zuidema is a Peace and Conflict Studies and Political Science student in his 4B term, and one of the participating Waterloo students in the Climate Connect program. Here is what he had to say about his experience.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

I became aware of the Climate Connect program while in Professor Carter’s Political Economy of the Environment course. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to hear what my peers across the globe thought and felt about climate change and a great way to force myself to think more universally about the issue. I also hoped that the program would help me to stay on top of the climate change issue.

During the program, I’ve been struck by how different the attitudes towards fossil fuel use have been between the students from different countries. As Canadian students, our concern has mostly been placed on fossil fuel reduction (especially by producers). Other students, particularly from Great Britain and Sweden have shared our aspiration for rapid decarbonization at home; however, they’ve had more of a focus on what can be done at the individual level. On the other hand, students from Malawi and South Africa have pointed out how difficult a transition away from fossil fuels is for their countries and communities. Their response has forced me to take a more nuanced view of what we can expect from people and governments, based on how privileged and powerful they are in the global economy.

While I’ve enjoyed writing up scripts and participating in video recordings, I think that my best contribution to the program has been my organization. I’ve done my best to create and facilitate meetings, post updates, and generally keep folks up-to-date and on task so that our projects get finished on time so we could have excellent discussion with our peers from across the world. I think this is the value of the program it puts students from all over the world in conversation with each other. It’s one thing to read an article, watch a ted talk, or listen to a podcast describing climate change – it’s entirely different to be face to face with people who experience the crisis and its solutions first hand.

Climate Connect is a collaboration between six universities across four continents to promote international networking across student and academic career stages, and to create space to share and learn about diverse perspectives on sustainability and how the climate crisis and responses to it are being experienced from one region to another.