The Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability (3CS) at Ashoka University is committed to awareness, research, and advocacy on issues of climate change and sustainability. The Centre, established in 2020, currently has 28 faculty members from across 9 departments and is the most interdisciplinary among Ashoka’s Centres. It brings together members of the Ashoka community with a shared interest in studying, communicating, and mitigating the effects of future climate change on our society, health, and environment. It harnesses Ashoka’s research and policy expertise, led by Ashoka’s intellectual community of scholars.
The Centre supports cutting edge research of an interdisciplinary nature and will focus on communicating the urgency of issues surrounding climate change and sustainability through the imaginative use of social media, blogs, art, music, podcasts, and advocacy campaigns, in addition to peer-reviewed literature and policy briefs.
Broadly, work supported by the Centre falls in one of seven thrust areas:
Ecology, Conservation, and Climate Change
Projects under this area will study ecological features of degraded ecosystems, the nature of shifts in parasite ecology, as well as long-term evolutionary changes in hosts, parasites and wildlife driven by changes in climate and other stressors. The primary aim of projects in this area will be to establish and sustain long-term studies of how climate change impacts ecological aspects of our natural world.
One Health approaches place human health within the larger context of ecological health, whose contours will be determined by climate change, habitat changes, and biodiversity loss. Projects under this area will examine likely sources of new zoonotic outbreaks, the human-animal-environment interface, the nature of emergent zoonoses, veterinary health, and ideas for sustainability viewed from a holistic health-centred perspective.
Climate and society
Climate action will require disruptive transformations for society, but how can that ‘transformational intent’ be developed? The digital revolution and data science show how rapid transformation can happen, history offers perspectives on such transformations in the past while the business world illuminates how rapid change continues to occur in the commercial and financial sector. This group of projects will study the interface between climate, sustainable living, and the forces that drive society and societal change.
Economics of Climate Change and Sustainability
How low and middle income countries might deal with the effects of climate change, caused by global economic forces in which they may plan only a minor part, remains to be seen. How will economies sustain growth while dealing with the uncertainties that climate change will bring in its wake? How do we incorporate sustainability and equity into models of economic growth, especially for India? Projects on the economic impacts of climate change will study these aspects.
Climate Change Communication
While climate communications is emerging as an important academic research field, there is no collective expertise in this area within India. The Centre will support projects that aim to understand how effective communication, across multiple Indian languages and to audiences ranging from school students to policy makers, can be used to communicate the need for climate change action. Ashoka will build international connections with leading global institutions to develop national capacity in this critical area, allowing cutting-edge research to be translated into effective policy action.
The environmental humanities address the following question: How can the humanities help us shape our thinking about our natural world? Can we better understand our current predicament through the study of art, literature and culture? How do we communicate hope in our future, rather than gloom, through perspectives that lie at the intersection of the humanities with science? Projects in this area will explore these as well as other novel perspectives, currently unique in India.
How can co-production and social learning with stakeholder communities help us understand how climate action can be implemented ‘on the ground’? The Ashoka campus offers a ‘living lab’ for active engagement with a diverse student body and neighbourhood groups. It reflects the wider academic recognition that universities are significant economic, social and environmental catalysts for cities and regions, offering the potential for change at a spatial scale that connects the local with the global. Projects in this area will explore how meaningful policy change can be driven in expanding circles from the level of university communities to the cities, states and nations they are embedded in.