Lead academic: Professor Peter Cox (Climate Systems Dynamics)

Climate Change: Mitigation, Adaptation or Geo-Engineering?

Challenge overview

This is an exciting and thought-provoking challenge, exploring technological and societal challenges, and environmental impacts and implications associated with global climate change.

You will have the opportunity to hear from a range of external experts, including climate change scientists and world-leading academics. Within this challenge, you will work with students from other disciplines in small groups to come up with your own student-led project, which is both creative and scientific, addressing an area of climate change. This could include, but is not limited to, raising education and awareness of climate change, making an impact on climate change locally, or looking at what can be done on a global level to minimise the negative effects of climate change. 


Speakers for 2018 are yet to be confirmed!

In 2017, we welcomed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change authors, who were involved in two events as part of Grand Challenges. The first was a networking lunch, giving students the opportunity to interact with and ask questions to these world leading climate scientists. The second was an evening public event, where members of the public and an expert panel discussed the 1.5 degree target with climate scientists. Students also attended talks by Leo Hickman (Director of Carbon Brief) and experts from the University and the Met Office.

A wide range of other exciting experts have been involved in previous years. See the full list of previous experts for more details. 

2017 summary

Each group was set a unique challenge such as creating a video to ‘debunk’ climate change myths and trying to make it go viral, or deciding how $100 billion could best be spent to tackle climate change. One group was tasked with creating an app to engage and educate primary school children on climate change. As part of this, the students visited Bickleigh Primary School to carry out market research, and pitched their final ideas to the school children towards the end of the week. Some students also worked with local organisation Exeter City Futures, who are aiming to make Exeter energy independent by 2025, and they came up with ideas that could support this aim.

Students took inspiration from these talks when working on their group projects. They created outputs as part of their projects, and these included videos, posters and app prototypes. On Friday morning, they presented their work to an expert panel and other students on their Challenge. They then showcased it later in the day at an exhibition in the Forum, which was attended by students from all Challenges, University staff and members of the general public.  

The timetable for the 2017 Challenge shows how the week was structured.

Student Outputs

Click on each of the images below to see the outputs that the students on the 2017 Challenge produced.

Enquiry groups

Enquiry groups are the subtopic of the challenge that students focus on for Grand Challenges Week. These are the enquiry groups that will be running in 2018. You will be able to choose from the following enquiry groups when you sign up to Grand Challenges.

Students will design an educational app to engage primary school children with climate change. Children will help the group define the brief and judge the success of the app!  

Climate engineering, sometimes called geoengineering, is trying to counteract climate change by either sucking carbon dioxide out of the air, or making the planet brighter. Students in this group will look at the pros and cons of this as a technique. 

Debunking myths surrounding climate change. Can you identify the truth and communicate it clearly and engagingly? Students will present this information in a variety of ways. Some students will design a climate change communication campaign that will go 'go viral' on Facebook or Twitter. 

Can we spend our way out of the problem? If Bill Gates gave you $100 Billion to fix the climate, how would you spend it?

Photos from Grand Challenges 2017