Last December, 21 students from CSB/SJU traveled to Poland for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24). Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s have both been granted nongovernmental organization observer status that gives our attendees access to the areas where sanctioned U.N. discussions and decisions take place – areas otherwise closed to the general public.
“We are so lucky to have inside access to the U.N. negotiations, but the expense of international travel is a barrier for students,” says Corrie Grosse, CSB/SJU assistant professor of environmental studies. Those barriers were holding students back.
That didn’t sit well with Lee and Vicki Morgan. As longtime advocates for the environment, the Morgans saw an opportunity to help and stepped forward with a gift that funded special grants for five Bennies to join the trip.
Students prepared for the trip a semester in advance, creating original research projects. That way, when they arrived in Poland, they were able to attend the sessions and connect with the experts they needed.
Then, when returning, each student completed a paper clarifying their findings. These students are now informed at the highest level and energized to speak out and speak loudly on what they’ve learned.
In a few weeks, Corrie and Troy Knight, CSB/SJU associate professor of environmental studies, will take another cohort to Santiago, Chile, for COP25. And the Morgans have already kicked in a gift to make the experience possible for five Bennies who wouldn’t otherwise be able.