On April 3, participants gathered via Zoom to explore the critical intersection of climate science and social justice with esteemed speaker Dr. Kim Cobb. As the Lawrence and Barbara Margolis Director at the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society, Dr. Cobb brought unparalleled expertise and passion to the discussion.

Her research has focused on numerous boots-on-the-ground interventions to solve the effects of climate change including urban heat disparities and flooding displacement. She referenced how the Fifth National Climate Assessment published in 2023 incorporated notions of social justice and historical inequities, and spoke on how diversity, equity and inclusion must be incorporated into climate research.

One of her projects demonstrated how urban heat in Atlanta is concentrated in previously redlined neighborhoods indicating current effects of historic segregation. In her projects she delved into questions surrounding ethics of working with communities including:

  • How can community members help decide research outputs?
  • What does equitable funding look like?
  • How do we define our project goals based on community needs?
  • How can students get involved in climate science?

She spoke on issues of extractive academic research, and how scientists must learn with the community and not from the community. She spoke on the concepts of FAIR data sharing, stewarding community partnerships, and sustained community engagement to prevent abuse by academic partners.

To wrap up the discussion, the floor was open to audience questions. Dr. Cobb provided her strategies for maintaining persistence in this work and her future work in climate justice using an interdisciplinary approach. Her Equitable Climate Futures will utilize many fields from public health to venture capital, law to technology to advance environmental justice initiatives and create a better future for all of us.