Interdisciplinary Initiative Launched to Tackle Climate Change

Lauren Aguilar’s ambition to delve into energy systems at MIT faced an initial roadblock before the introduction of a new undergraduate major, Course 1-12 (Climate System Science and Engineering), offering a clear pathway to study the system dynamics of energy, policy, and climate during the energy transition.

Drawn by the interdisciplinary nature of the major jointly developed by the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) in 2023, Aguilar seized the opportunity to enroll in engineering systems courses while gaining insight into climate studies.

“Enhancing my understanding of climate science informs my approach to constructing durable and adaptable energy systems to address climate change. Knowledge of the scales at which we can anticipate climate changes is essential for building resilient energy infrastructure,” explains Aguilar.

The 1-12 major’s multidisciplinary framework encourages student engagement with faculty from various disciplines across the Institute. Combining core principles in Earth systems and engineering, the major incorporates human behavior and institutional dynamics within the climate challenge. Students explore fundamental sciences, such as atmospheric chemistry and physics of low-carbon energy systems. Additionally, coursework delves into data science, machine learning applications in climate forecasting, alongside policy, economics, and environmental justice domains.

Junior Ananda Figueiredo’s decision to pursue the 1-12 major stemmed from a desire to impact society positively, particularly addressing issues of equality. Figueiredo cites the intricate interconnections between climate change and various societal elements, reflecting her inclination towards a systemic approach.

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