by Ella Smith, Student Public Relations Writer
While most professors are gearing up for the end of the semester, Dr. Mark Gathany, a biology professor at Cedarville University who teaches environmental and ecology classes, will be attending the 2023 United Nation's Climate Change Conference, formally the UNFCCC COP28 – UN Framework Convention of Climate Change – Conference of Parties 28 (COP28) in Dubai, UAE. Gathany will attend the first week of the conference which takes place from November 28 through December 12.
Gathany will attend as a member of the Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP.) CCOP is a Christian organization formally recognized by the United Nations (U.N.) conferences. They look to represent biblical hope in the tough conversations and policy discussions surrounding climate change topics. Gathany will be one of up to 30 CCOP members who will have badge access to the policy meetings and participating nation's conference centers.
“We’re there identifying ourselves as followers of Christ,” said Gathany. “One of the best things we’re able to do is share our faith that motivates us to care about climate change. We will also have opportunities to pray with and for others there directly involved in the policy-making that will impact our neighbors.”
The Cedarville professor, who conducts research on carbon storage and how it impacts land use noted that this opportunity offers him the opportunity to learn more professionally but also to share his faith with others.
“I’ve read all the reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) puts out every six years,” he said. “I’ve always been intrigued to have the chance to physically go see how those reports are actualized to meet the challenges that climate change poses. Now to join that with the missional aspect of CCOP has me really excited.”
While Gathany will benefit from the conference, his students at Cedarville will also benefit as he plans to livestream and share remotely during class time what he’s learned from the conference with his students.
“The end result is not to keep these experiences and things that I’ve learned for myself but to share with students how some of this process actually works on the ground,” he explained.
Gathany hopes teaching classes virtually directly from Dubai will allow him to show students some of what is behind the scenes and the benefits of engaging in professional opportunities such as this. He also will be posting about his experiences at the conference on the Cedarville environmental science Instagram, @cuenviroscience.
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,456 undergraduate, graduate, and dual enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, such as the environmental science major, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the No. 4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.