Harvard Chan C-CHANGE announces Youth Summits on Climate and Public Health to empower the next generation of leaders

02/10/2021 | Harvard Chan C-CHANGE / Putney Pre-College

Summer program will prepare high school students to take climate and public health action in their communities 

BOSTON, Mass. – The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE) will host high school students this July to learn how to become climate change and public health leaders in their communities as part of the Center’s 25th anniversary. The Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summits will train students through workshops, field-based activities, and meetings with scientists, health and policy experts, academics, energy innovators, and more.

“I’m constantly inspired by the young people whose creativity and passion have led the climate movement forward to where it is today,” says Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Harvard Chan C-CHANGE interim director. “They understand better than anyone what’s at stake for health with climate change and know that we must have strong public health systems to meet the challenges we face. Our goal is to equip students with the science and communications skills they need to put their passion into practice, so they can make their communities healthier and stronger.”

The Youth Summits were developed in collaboration with Putney Pre-College and with the support of Gina McCarthy, former director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE, now National Climate Adviser to the Biden-Harris Administration. They combine Putney’s extensive history of designing educational and innovative student programs with Harvard Chan C-CHANGE’s academic expertise and thought leadership on climate and health. 

Speakers include:

  • Dr. Francesca Dominici, PhD, Co-Director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative and Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population and Data Science at Harvard Chan School 
  • Dr. Howard Koh, MD, MPH, Former Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Professor of Public Health Leadership at the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Kennedy School 
  • Nadia Nazar, Founder and Co-Executive Director of Zero Hour
  • Dr. Renee Salas, MD, MPH, MS, Emergency Medicine Physician and Yerby Fellow at Harvard Chan C-CHANGE
  • Dr. Michelle Williams, SM, ScD, Dean of Faculty at the Harvard Chan School 

* For the full list of speakers, visit Harvard Chan C-CHANGE. Additional speakers will be added as confirmed.

“I am excited to be a part of this innovative program, which will help give students the tools to tackle both the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities of any generation born to this Earth so far,” said Governor Peter Shumlin, co-director of Putney Pre-College and former governor of Vermont. “Students will return to their home communities after the summit with practical, actionable ideas for making real change, as well as a newfound network of engaged peers and leaders.”

Young people care deeply about social justice and climate change. Polling has found that they are more likely than older generations to view climate change as personally important and are more confident that citizens working together can influence the actions of government and business decision-makers. About three in four teens say that health care is very or extremely important to them personally. The Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summits are designed to channel this energy, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, encourage solution-minded thinking, and give young people a platform to make their communities healthier and more equitable. 

During two week-long summits, students will choose an Action Focus such as Science & Technology, Policy & Security, Community Health, Press & Media, or Epidemiology & Infectious Disease. Action Focus groups will take part in daily workshops led by instructors and field-based activities and will develop a capstone project to transform their ideas into action. Scholarship opportunities are available to eligible students through the Putney Open Door Fund.

About Harvard Chan C-CHANGE

The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE) increases public awareness of the health impacts of climate change and uses science to make it personal, actionable, and urgent. Led by Dr. Aaron Bernstein, the Center leverages Harvard’s cutting-edge research to inform policies, technologies, and products that reduce air pollution and other causes of climate change. By making climate change personal, highlighting solutions, and emphasizing the important role we all play in driving change, Harvard Chan C-CHANGE puts health outcomes at the center of climate actions. To learn more visit https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/.

About Putney Pre-College

Putney Pre-College programs are designed and operated by Putney Student Travel, a family-run organization that has provided transformative travel programs for young people since 1951. Putney Pre-College programs offer a unique spin on the standard summer class model by emphasizing hands-on learning and real-world experiences that encourage discovery, foster curiosity, and nurture a global perspective in our students. Putney has dedicated itself to preparing students for that all-important next step into college—both academically and socially—and continues to develop innovative and globally minded pre-college programs for students in the U.S. and abroad. To learn more visit https://precollege.goputney.com/.

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