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Climate & Sustainability Scholars Program

About

Applications are now open for Fall 2024. The priority deadline is May 8, 2024 (recently extended!), with applications reviewed on a rolling basis thereafter (as space allows).

The MCSC’s new Climate & Sustainability Scholars Program enables MIT undergraduates to have a unique, yearlong, interdisciplinary experience developing and implementing climate and sustainability research projects. Inspired by MIT’s successful SuperUROP program, the Climate & Sustainability Scholars Program has three elements: Climate.UAR course, experiential learning opportunities, and mentorship.

Students in the program will enroll for a fall-spring sequence in a Climate.UAR course and will be engaged with a complementary research project during that time, which can be on or off campus. Students will also be encouraged to participate in on- or off-campus research or internships related to the MCSC during the summer. Learn more below; the program is open to rising juniors and seniors from all departments and all majors.

If you have questions, please reach out to us: mcsc@mit.edu.

Learn More

Meet the 2023-2024 cohort of Scholars in this introductory article!

Read more about the research of past Scholars in these student spotlights:
  • Gosha, whose work bridged abstract mathematics and climate science.
  • Dahlia, who explored technologies to address the water data gap.
  • Jade, who investigated photo-modulated catalytic reactions for clean energy applications.
  • Grace, who worked to maximize wind farm power through physics-based computational models

You can also read this MIT News article about the program.

Program Timeline

The timeline below highlights the main component(s) of the program happening during each semester.

Fall: 6-unit Climate.UAR Class with a focus on climate and sustainability topics + 10 hours/week of research

Spring: 6-unit Climate.UAR Class with a focus on research / experiential activities + 10 hours/week of research

Please Note: Climate.UAR is 12 units in total.

Climate.UAR

The course will be cross-listed in departments across all five schools and will be taught by an experienced and interdisciplinary team. The fall semester will include lectures on key topics in climate change science, decarbonization strategies, policy, environmental justice, and quantitative methods for evaluating social and environmental impacts. Students will simultaneously develop project proposals, participate in a UROP, and communicate their work using written and oral media.

The spring semester will build off the experiences gained during fall semester (and potentially previous summer and IAP experiences) with the goal of conducting further research on climate and sustainability topics and developing proposals for entrepreneurial or policy activities that would enable the research outcomes to be rapidly scaled for impact. There will be a showcase at the end of the year where students will have the opportunity to present posters highlighting the work that they have done throughout the year.

Climate.UAR is currently cross listed as 1.UAR/3.UAR/5.UAR/11.UAR/12.UAR/15.UAR/22.UAR.

“The diverse range of people talking about their own fields has allowed me to make connections between all my classes."

Grace Harrington
Civil and Environmental Engineering major

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Parallel to the Climate.UAR course activities, students will engage in experiential learning opportunities. During both semesters, this will consist of an advanced UROP with the potential for connection to industrial partners via MCSC activities. During the summer students will be strongly encouraged to participate in research at MIT on climate and sustainability topics, internships with MCSC industry members, and other ventures with links to sustainability. In future academic years, we hope to expand to other experiential learning opportunities.

Sample Projects from 2022-2023 Explore:

  • How to optimize the power of wind farms
  • Measuring carbon in wetlands
  • The “backfire effects” in climate change communication
  • Indigenous data sovereignty in environmental contexts

Apply

Applications are now open for Fall 2024. The deadline is May 8, 2024 (recently extended!), with applications reviewed on a rolling basis thereafter (as space allows).

FAQs


The program is available during your junior and senior year to ensure students have enough coursework before they embark on it; students will dive into quantitative methods, so having background knowledge is important to your success in the program.

Taking climate and sustainability-related courses, engaging with a climate and sustainability UROP, and participating in climate and sustainability experiential learning opportunities will prepare you well. You will also be well prepared by engaging deeply in your own discipline and looking for ways to apply that discipline to climate and sustainability topics. All disciplines are needed for this work!

Any MIT undergraduate, entering their junior or senior year, who is interested in research and climate and sustainability would likely be an excellent fit!

Yes, Climate & Sustainability Scholars can engage in UROPs that involve MCSC member companies. The MCSC’s focus areas were established directly with the member companies, so there are many avenues and directions a student can take and still have the opportunity to partner with a company.

First, why not do this program?! In all seriousness, this is an excellent opportunity to dive into topics you’re passionate about, strengthen your interdisciplinary research skills, and build your climate and sustainability network.

The Climate & Sustainability Scholars program faculty and staff will work each student admitted into the program to identify a suitable project. If you are already involved in a research project that you think would be a good fit, please let us know either in the application or after you’ve been admitted to the program! We’d love to help you continue to deepen your research work, if it also matches up with the learning goals of the program.

$25/hour for up to 10 hours per week of research during the fall and spring terms.

Because this is the second year of the program, we don’t know how much interest there will be. We anticipate having approximately 20 students in the class.

Climate.UAR is cross listed as 1.UAR/3.UAR/5.UAR/11.UAR/12.UAR/15.UAR/22.UAR

YES! Climate.UAR/the MCSC Scholars program counts in the Sustainable Solutions portion of the E&S minor. Please reach out to Sarah Meyers at ESI with any questions.

The structure of the Climate and Sustainability Scholars program is inspired by the incredibly successful Course 6 SuperUROP program. Both programs are distinct from one another, but both have a yearlong class and yearlong advanced research project.

We are in ongoing conversations with many units across MIT and in every School! Our current collaborations are in Courses 1, 3, 5, 12, 15, and 22. If you are interested in a department, lab, or center that’s not listed, please reach out! We will also update this webpage regularly as additional collaborations take shape!

This is a different program than NEET, but if you are involved with NEET we can explore linking a UROP project between the two programs.

This is a different program than 5.39, but if you are involved with 5.39 and have interest in the C&S Scholars program, we can explore linking a UROP project between the two programs.

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