F&M Stories

Students Take on Climate Change Beyond the Classroom

Across campus, Franklin & Marshall students are inspiring climate action in unconventional ways. While many choose environmental career paths, others participate in meaningful work outside of the classroom to help make sustainability a more accessible concept. 

Below, meet a few students who are inspiring action through a variety of disciplines, including campus clubs and public relations work. 

Student Interns for United Nations Climate Change Conference

Munahil Sultana, senior student body president, spent her summer as a U.S. Foreign Service intern in Dubai’s U.S. Consulate preparing for COP 28, the biggest climate change conference to date. The conference commenced Nov. 30 and will run until Dec. 12.

U.N. Climate Change conferences (or COPs) take place every year, and are the world’s only multilateral decision-making forum on climate change with almost complete membership of every country in the world.  

Officially, COP 28 stands for the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC.

Sultana helped with public relations efforts and ultimately hopes to make climate change conversation more accessible to those outside of government buildings.  

“It's not so much the number of attendees. It's more so a mindset shift that I'm hoping the international community has,” said Sultana, a 2022 Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholar and U.S. Foreign Service Intern.

“I think climate change is one of those discussions that seems very elitist in a lot of conversations. It doesn't seem like these are the conversations that are going from the bottom-up,” she said. “There are so many organizations around the world that I've witnessed translate these [conversations] into different languages or make them more digestible for different communities around the world.”

More than 70,000 delegates are expected to attend COP28, including the member states (or Parties) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Business leaders, young people, climate scientists, indigenous peoples, journalists and various other experts and stakeholders are also among the participants.

“I'm hoping that as a result of COP 28, this no longer becomes a discussion that only policy leaders have throughout the world, but more so smaller communities within each of those governments, within each of those nations,” Sultana said. 

“The work that we're doing is so important, but unless we relay that information out to our constituents, to our citizens, they won't be able to have any of that impact.”

Munahil Sultana ’24

Munahil Sultana ’24

Hometown: New York City

Joint major: International Relations and Government

Minor: Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Beyond the Classroom: Environmental Action Alliance

Many students engage in sustainability efforts beyond the classroom, even if it doesn’t pertain to their field of study. 

“I'm not planning on majoring in environmental science at the moment, but I definitely think that everyone should be environmentally conscious no matter what they're interested in,” said sophomore Belén Troncelliti.

That’s why Troncelliti joined Environmental Action Alliance (EAA), a student-led organization of environmental activists, researchers and advocates engaged in numerous sustainability and awareness initiatives on campus and in Lancaster.

EAA hosts speakers, a campus-wide clothing swap, a springtime yard sale and sustainable craft events, such as candle making. In addition, the club gets together to enjoy outdoor activities such as hikes and apple picking. 

EAA students also team up with faculty and staff to run The Fair Trade Café, which offers grilled cheese and vegan soups every Wednesday. Food is locally sourced from sustainable producers.

“These have been great ways to learn more about the environment and become less wasteful as college students,” Troncelliti said.

First-year Bridget Dempsey echoes that sentiment. 

“I was the president of my high school's environmental club and felt joining my college's EAA club was the appropriate next step. I wanted to join fun events and help make any positive change possible for the school,” she said. 

Learn more about sustainability initiatives at F&M

Belen Troncelliti ’26

Belen Troncelliti ’26

Hometown: Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Joint major: Sociology and Business, Organizations, and Society (intended)

Minor: Spanish (intended)

 

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