Global School Forum 2023-2024

The Global School at WPI supports innovative research and project-based learning to address the increasing complexity and diversity of global grand challenges such as health, energy, environment, food, water, mobility, and climate change. This year the Global School Forum focus' is on some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals that are at the heart of WPI’s interdisciplinary approach. 

Through our collaborations with partners across the globe in our network of global project centers, WPI students and faculty are working on many of the UN SDG's. Running through this year’s program is Climate Action (SDG13), one of the great global challenges of our era. Each term we will focus on another key area: Circular Economy and Sustainable Business (SDG12), Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG7), Quality Global Education (SDG4) and Global Health and Well-being (SDG3).

Please join us for this exciting series of Keynote speakers and discussions. Registration will open for in person or online participation before each event.

Preview Sustainable Development Goal 13
Preview New England Caribbean Latin American Studies

November 2023

Caribbean Climate Knowledge-to-Action: Critical Reflections on Locally-led Action, Disaster Preparedness, and Climate Education

NOVEMBER 10, 2024
Campus Center Odeum A&B
3:30pm - 5:00pm

A panel discussion to kick off the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS) conference featuring WPI's Global School Dean, Mimi Sheller, Stacy-ann Robinson of Colby College, Kevon Rhiney, from Rutgers University, and Nigel Brissett, Clark University.

This panel is organized around the themes of challenges of climate change adaptation strategies and climate reparations, including locally-led action, disaster preparedness and climate education. Examples will be drawn from Puerto Rico, the Hispanic Caribbean, and the Anglophone Caribbean region, including how both independent and non-independent territories are building climate knowledge-action networks and seeking to mobilize political-ecological claim-making across linguistic and jurisdictional differences.

Preview SDG 7

February 2024

Equity, energy and just transitions

February 1, 2024
Innovation Studio 203
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

The urgency, emergency, and necessity of low-carbon transitions is a given in most regions of the world. But low-carbon innovations, technologies, practices and policies can unintentionally exacerbate a series of inequities and inequalities with energy production and use. This presentation introduces conceptions of Just Transitions and energy justice as a way to remediate these concerns. It utilizes a novel framework looking at demographic inequities (between groups), spatial inequities (across geographic scales), interspecies inequities (between humans and non-humans), and temporal inequities (across present and future generations). This framework enables not only the identification of multiple and often interlinked inequities; it also points the way towards how to make low-carbon transitions more sustainable and just, with direct implications for business practices (and supply chains) as well as energy and climate policy.

Benjamin K. Sovacool is the Director of the Boston University Institute for Global Sustainability (IGS) and a Professor in the Department of Earth & Environment. He works as a researcher and consultant on issues pertaining to global energy policy and politics, energy security, energy justice, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation. More specifically, his research focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, designing public policy to improve energy security and access to electricity, the ethics and justice of energy, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change.

Preview Sarah Vaughn Book Cover
Preview Sustainable Development Goal 13
Preview Sarah Vaughn Anthropology

September 2023

Erosion By Design: Sea Defenses in Guyana

September 8, 2023
Campus Center Odeum A&B
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Sarah will explore the intersecting socio-material and ethical demands that engineers confront in adapting sea defenses to climate change in Guyana. Focusing on the tensions in climate adaptation that create the possibilities for theorizing innovation as a key theme of counter-modernities in the Anthropocene and drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, oral histories, and archival research, she show’s engineers’ decision-making regarding whether or not to innovate sea defenses which is a fraught process dependent upon processes of erosion and the ontological (in)stability of specific infrastructures known as groynes. These dilemmas remind us that issues of innovation can create paralysis and haunt even the most elite spaces of climateadaptation.  Experts in climate adaptation arenas have the desire to create all kinds of affective attachments with people, things, places, and environments. I focus on their desire for a different, perhaps a more hospitable kind of world—shaped by their efforts to perform and demonstrate their credibility to others.

Sarah E. Vaughn is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her research and writing have contributed to understandings of climate adaptation across the circum-Caribbean, particularly among experts in coastal Guyana and Bermuda. Working at the intersection of environmental anthropology, critical social theory, and science and technology studies, Vaughn’s research agenda is invested in examining how technology mediates people’s experiences of climate change.  Her writing has appeared in numerous academic journals as well as in literary and environmental magazines, and she is the author of the award-winning book Engineering Vulnerability: In Pursuit of Climate Adaptation (Duke, 2022).