WCRP Academy’s proposed Charter
The WCRP Academy is the research training advisory and coordination arm of the World Climate Research Program. Its mission is to equip current and future climate scientists with the knowledge, skills and attributes required to tackle the world’s most pressing and challenging climate research questions. The Academy’s activities will promote and advance lifelong learning opportunities and global equity in climate science training. It will measure its success by the scope and diversity of the global climate research community that engages with the Academy as well as its ability to improve global access to high-quality climate science training and professional development without prohibitive costs to the trainee.
The objective is to determine the requirements for climate research education and build enabling mechanisms. One mechanism is an online market place for climate science training, which connects training providers and climate scientists who are seeking training. This will be both inward facing, which aims to consolidate and support WCRP training activities, and outward facing, which will bring together an even broader range of training opportunities. The Academy will also identify training gaps and advocate for those needs to be met.
To build this marketplace the Academy will work with WCRP core activities, including the other Lighthouse Activities, and established climate education providers, including universities. There will be an annual stocktake to ensure that the Academy continues to meet the needs of the climate science community.
We want the Academy to be a positive addition to the climate science training landscape, bridging across all of the WCRP community and beyond. In setting out our vision for the Academy we determined a core list of founding principles that are shaping our development.
- Now, more than ever, the world needs climate experts. Climate expertise is particularly needed in countries most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.
- Although there is a large amount of excellent climate science training available, coordination of access to this training would benefit those looking for it.
- Provision of climate science training could be made more efficient and sustainable by better connecting providers and consumers of training.
- Climate science is an applied science that integrates disciplinary knowledge from many fields. No one institution can provide the complete training that modern climate scientists require.
- Climate science training could be made more useful if designed with the impact of climate variability and change on society in mind.
- Barriers to access training are primarily geographical and financial rather than a lack of prior learning or desire for training. The WCRP Academy seeks particularly to provide training opportunities for early career scientists in low and middle income countries.
- Delivery of climate science training needs to be funded through a combination of governmental, institutional and philanthropic grants and fees paid by consumers of training, when possible.
- Training at the scale and quality that we think is required for the next generation of climate scientists will require delivery both online and in-person.
- The WCRP Academy will be a hub which connects training providers and consumers, a marketplace for climate science training.
- Inclusion of training within the WCRP Academy hub implies that the training is high quality. As the Academy develops, it will need to build a light-touch mechanism of quality assurance.
- The WCRP Academy will build and maintain an evidence base of what climate science training is required, where and by whom. This evidence base will enable training providers to develop courses that meet market needs.
- The WCRP Academy will help build a global community of climate researchers at all career stages to provide global networking and mentoring opportunities to facilitate lifelong learning and skills matching for current and future research projects worldwide.
Working to these core principles, the scope of the Academy includes serving as a networking hub that facilitates the capacity of climate scientists to do excellent climate science and interact with stakeholders who require climate information. These core principles also place boundaries on the scope and activities of the Academy. It is important to clearly set out what these boundaries are in order that the project is successful.
- The WCRP Academy does not have a climate science outreach function and is not involved in explaining climate science to the general public. Climate science outreach is a vital part of making the best use of our science, but there are many organisations that do this job very well.
- The WCRP Academy is not a training provider.
- The WCRP Academy is not a pathway for accessing formal tertiary or accredited qualifications nor does it offer financial support (such as stipends or scholarships) to support individuals in this endeavor.
- The Academy is not a source of funding to attend any training activities but may provide information about potential funders of these activities.
- A modern, well developed platform that allows researchers to learn about and access training opportunities.
- A mechanism to regularly survey climate science training needs and communicate this information to training providers.
- A funded, permanent Academy team that maintains and develops the platform and other tools and resources, runs the surveying mechanism and maintains communications with potential students and training providers.
Science Plan Development Team 2021
The WCRP Academy Science Plan Development Team members were drawn from across the WCRP community and partners and were charged with developing the science plan of this activity. Their affiliations and contact details are available on the Leadership page.
Climate science, as a growing and evolving field, can have different definitions. When we talk about climate science and climate scientists we mean:
The quest to observe and understand the structure and dynamics, interactions and variability, coupling processes and feed-back mechanisms, over time and across geographical scales, of the Earth’s Climate System physical components; ocean, atmosphere, land, water, cryosphere. It also includes to observe the impact of global heating and changes in biosphere, to employ historic and local knowledge, to estimate future changes and to communicate its findings.
A climate scientist seeks to understand and communicate the processes responsible for climate variability and change, using theory, observations, and numerical models. The activities of a climate scientist may include making predictions of the climate system, explaining the role of predictions in decision-making and communicating research results.
Training (in our Academy context) aims to improve climate science literacy (see below) of communities who require climate information in their operational or decision-making contexts. A climate scientist would ideally at the end of the training be able to:
- Understand and explain the essential principles of Earth’s climate system
- Have technical skills to be able to analyze and use available tools and methods, quantitatively as well as qualitatively
- Critically assess scientifically credible information about climate
- Communicate about climate, climate change with different societal groups and thus enable new applications of climate science
- Make informed and responsible decisions with regards to actions that may affect climate
- Provide expert advice to users of climate information
For more information, please see the draft WCRP Academy Science Plan (2021).