News Releases

Ithaca College Students Attend United Nations Climate Conference

ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College will once again be represented at the annual gathering of world leaders to discuss and assess progress in dealing with climate change. A contingent of students and faculty members will attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 16th Conference of the Parties (COP16), being held Nov. 28–Dec. 10 in Cancun, Mexico.

The 16 participating students have been studying the politics of climate change throughout the fall semester in the International Environmental Policy class, taught by professor of politics Tom Shevory. He and associate professor of accounting Warren Schlesinger will attend the conference along with the students, who will be split into two groups, with half attending each week of the conference.

“Last year’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was widely viewed as a failure after President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, representing the world’s two largest carbon emitters, failed to reach an agreement on substantive reductions,” said Shevory. “This year brings a renewed commitment to resolve differences before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.”

Ithaca College is one of only a handful of academic institutions to be granted permanent observer status at these annual climate treaty gatherings. In addition to last year’s conference in Copenhagen, the college has sent observer teams to prior sessions held in Canada, Kenya, Indonesia and Poland. A charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, the college has been recognized as a national leader in campus sustainability efforts.

While at the conference, the students will conduct an ongoing opinion survey on climate change and contribute to a Twitter feed and a blog as well as post video interviews on the class website, which can be found at The students will also continue research, begun earlier in the semester, related to country- and region-specific impacts of climate change, and official national positions on the treaty.

According to the class website, “Our intention is to report and to analyze, to describe our activities and findings, and to place them into the context of the global fight against climate change… We would like to see the world reach a meaningful long-term agreement that turns us back from the brink of disaster. Time is pressing.”

The student team includes Briana Bender ’13, Aaron Berg ’12, John Davis ’11, Kacey Deamer ’13, Chelsea Gallup ’13, Maddie Kennedy ’12, Christina Konnaris ’13, Stephanie Lavallato ’13, John Perrotti ’12, Gigi Marcantonio ’13, David Nelson ’11, Nick Righi ’11, Zack Schwab ’12, Victor Shelden ’11, Orhun Unsal ’11 and Jess Wunsch ’13.

Financial support for attending the conference was provided by the Ithaca College Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences; a “Commit-to-Change” grant, awarded by the HSBC in the Community Foundation to fund the development of educational and outreach activities in environmental studies; the School of Humanities and Sciences; the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; and student contributions.

For more information, contact Tom Shevory at