Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate, Equity, & Health


Turning Knowledge Into Climate Action


Dates: July 22 – July 29, 2023
Tuition: $4,490
Location: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Grades: 9–12 (motivated rising 9th graders will also be considered)

Dive into issues of climate change, equity, and public health alongside peers, educators, and leading professionals from the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard Chan C-CHANGE). Choose an Action Focus based on your interests and explore how climate change is intertwined with public health, medicine, social justice, equity, economics, and policy. Gain perspective from scientists, health practitioners, policymakers, youth activists, climate creatives, and clean energy innovators at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis. Take what you have learned and transform your ideas into a Community Action Plan, and return home ready to address these issues in your own community.

Click here to learn about scholarship opportunities for summer 2023.

This program was developed thanks to the support of Gina McCarthy, the former National Climate Adviser in the Biden-Harris Administration and former Director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE.


Learn from experts at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well as policymakers, academics, and scientists working in fields related to climate change and public health. Participate in workshops, attend lectures, and take advantage of all Boston has to offer.

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Guest Speakers

Gain inspiration from the experiences and perspectives of the Director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE, Harvard professors, former and current policymakers, journalists, advocates, and clean energy innovators.

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Community Action Plan

Develop a Community Action Plan based on your interests and round out the program with a presentation to your peers, sharing your vision for practical action to make lasting change when you return home.

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“Before participating in the program, I did not know any peers who were deeply committed to effective environmental advocacy. Experiencing this program with so many like-minded teens gave me hope for our generation’s leadership in combating climate change.”

— Yating “Tina” T., 2022 Summit Alum


The Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate, Equity, and Health brings together motivated young people from different backgrounds around the world to learn from and be inspired by policymakers, public health experts, climate advocates, scientists, energy innovators, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs, and each other.

Action Focus

Each student chooses an Action Focus based on their interests—Climate Communications, Press, & Media; Climate Science; Entrepreneurship, Industry, & Technology; Environmental Justice; Global Health, Epidemiology, & Infectious Disease; Medicine & Healthcare; or Policy & Advocacy. This Action Focus acts as the lens through which students view the challenges of climate change and public health.

Program Location

Daily workshops, meetings, and guest speaker talks take place at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health academic buildings. Offsite and field-based learning activities balance classroom and workshop time around the cities of Boston and Cambridge.

Residence & Accommodations

Students and residential instructors reside in a modern residence hall at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a short walk from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Rooms are doubles, triples, and quads, and assigned by age; genders are separated by floor; and staff reside on the same floors as students. Residence halls have 24-hour front desk security, high-speed wifi, air conditioning, and on-site laundry facilities.

Activities & Excursions

In addition to thematic program activities, students have the opportunity to explore all the culture, history, and cuisine that Boston, Cambridge, and Harvard have to offer, from the Boston Common and the North End to the Harvard science museums and Harvard Yard. Stroll the streets of Harvard Square, kayak the Charles River, or play frisbee on the Harvard Medical School quad.


Become part of a community of high school students and instructors with diverse interests and a shared passion for implementing climate solutions. Students hail from across the U.S. and around the world, creating a vibrant and dynamic community of motivated, driven individuals, each bringing a unique perspective and life experience.

Inspiring Leaders

Guest lecturers and workshop leaders provide important context for our climate and health challenges, as well as inspiration for ways forward. In addition, residential program instructors lead smaller Action Focus teams in discussions, hands-on activities, and field trips, while serving as mentors and helping students shape their Community Action Plans.

Your Action Focus

When applying to the Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit, you will choose a particular “Action Focus” based on your interests and personal goals. This Focus is the angle from which you and your peers will approach climate and health solutions over the course of the week. The entire Summit community comes together for keynote guest lectures and activities, but part of each day is dedicated to working closely with your Action Focus peers and instructors as you build toward your culminating Community Action Plan.

Climate Communications, Press, & Media

While the scientific consensus around climate change is clear, polarized media outlets and an abundance of misinformation have prevented a shared public understanding of the facts. Now we are also witnessing a similar dynamic around COVID-19 public health messaging. How do mainstream and alternative news outlets narrate stories of climate change and public health differently? What are the responsibilities of the media when it comes to presenting opposing viewpoints that contradict factual information? How does an individual or organization authentically share compelling climate or health stories? Consider and explore the challenges in communicating complex scientific information to the general public, as well as what type of information is most effective at persuading readers—science or stories?

Climate Science

Climate change makes headlines daily. The climate is changing and the need to address it has never been higher. But what is causing these changes and what actions could most effectively address them and protect frontline communities? Begin by developing an understanding of the dynamics at play in Earth’s climate structure, and the natural factors that influence it, from atmospheric radiation to ocean currents. Then dive into how climate change is connected to health. Learn how to work with climate datasets, get experience constructing and using climate models, and come away with a deepened understanding of the interdisciplinary sciences—physics, chemistry, oceanography, and more—that can help us make sense of and address the climate and health crises.

Entrepreneurship, Industry, & Technology

What roles do technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and scientific advancement play in mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects? What current technologies have already been employed and what developments are on the horizon? Delve into renewable energy production and carbon capture, then expand to discussions of emergent geoengineering methods to tackle climate realities. Assess the tradeoffs and timelines associated with each approach and consider the risks of holding out for a technological “silver bullet.” Compare the efficacy of individual, local, and corporate climate initiatives. What role do industry leaders play in addressing the climate and health crises? Where do business, economic, social, and environmental interests intersect, and can they be balanced to reduce climate change?

Environmental Justice

As climate change affects public health worldwide, its impacts are not felt equitably. Racist policies have led to power plants, and other polluting sources to be disproportionately located in communities of color. How does climate change intersect with issues of food access, stable housing, mental health, and environmental factors like air and water quality? What community-led initiatives address these issues and how do you build a successful community health campaign? From policymaking to organizing to effective messaging, get hands-on experience identifying the issues and the numerous channels for addressing them. Explore diverse strategies to support environmental justice communities.

Global Health, Epidemiology, & Infectious Disease

Learn how climate solutions are pandemic solutions. What is the science behind diseases like COVID-19? How are diseases forming, spreading, or being controlled locally and globally? What patterns are there in infectious disease outbreaks and how can we reduce risk and prevent future outbreaks? Immerse yourself in cutting-edge science, from modeling to vaccines. Explore how ecological spillover, a warming planet, and pollution intersect with disease. Discuss the role of epidemiology in informing scientific, ethical, economic, and political discussions on health issues, both on a local and global level. Consider economic disparities between countries and how lack of access to quality healthcare impacts global health, and develop a framework for understanding not only our global health challenges, but also how we might overcome them.

Medicine & Healthcare

Explore the ways in which climate change intersects with the world of medicine. Where and how is clinical practice impacted by emerging climate and public health realities? What responsibility do doctors and other healthcare providers have in addressing and raising awareness around these issues? In what way does climate change impact healthcare delivery and how doctors should approach preventative care? Engage with these questions alongside top doctors from Harvard Medical School and other leading healthcare institutions who are working to engage the medical community and their patients on the health effects of climate change. Consider the intersections of clinical practice with environmental health, supply chains, and care delivery. Develop a real-world understanding of how healthcare practitioners can prepare for both the rising demand of crisis care and the long-term health impacts of climate-related disease. Explore important mitigation strategies to combat climate-related health disparities, and discover how medical practice is deeply rooted in a local context.

Policy & Advocacy

How is the U.S. viewed internationally on climate change? What role does it play in international governing bodies? What domestic policies and political considerations have influenced this role? Discuss how climate hazards threaten infrastructure, health, and security, and what policies can help shape our response to such challenges. Delve into how the legislative and administrative policymaking processes work, then engage with specific examples of U.S. public health and climate policies. From renewable energy incentives to power plan regulations, find the common threads that contribute to the success or failure of climate policies. With an understanding of the current climate and health issues facing the U.S., develop ideas for how government policies can address them. Learn and practice essential tools for effective advocacy at the local and state level, such as message development, social media, networking, and public speaking.

Program Structure

Each day features a combination of Action Focus seminars, hands-on activities, excursions, and guest speaker events with the entire program community. After breakfast, depending on the day, Action Focus learning may start in classrooms and meeting spaces on campus, or students and instructors may travel to a nearby site for field-based learning before meeting with a guest speaker. After lunch, Action Focus seminars continue. Afternoons and evenings offer opportunities to explore Boston, participate in group activities, or work on independent projects. After dinner, students and instructors from all Action Focus groups convene for evening activities. On the final two days of the program, students focus on their Community Action Plan, which they present on the final day.

Guest Speakers

Guest lecturers bring to the program diverse backgrounds with high-level, real-world experiences and insights. Each speaker structures their lecture to relate to the various Action Focuses and their area of expertise. For example, an expert in air quality and pulmonary disease might discuss how air quality is directly linked to climate change and how communities of color in urban areas are the most affected by pollution and a lack of access to healthcare. They might expand on how health issues stemming from poor environmental health can be addressed in a local community, on a global scale, or through policy changes that will have a direct impact on the future spread of infectious disease.

View full speaker bios

Michelle A. Williams, MS, ScD

Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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Gaurab Basu MD, MPH

Primary Care Physician and Co-Director of the Center for Health Equity Education and Advocacy at Cambridge Health Alliance; Instructor, Harvard Medical School

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Aaron Bernstein MD, MPH

Interim Director, Harvard Chan C-CHANGE; Pediatric Hospitalist, Boston Children’s Hospital; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School

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Marcia Castro MA, PhD

Andelot Professor of Demography Global Health and Population; Chair, Department of Global Health and Population Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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Francesca Dominici, PhD

Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Population and Data Science, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Co-Director of the Data Science Initiative

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Howard Frumkin MD, DrPH, MPH

Former Director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the CDC; Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington

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Howard Koh MD, MPH

Former Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership, Harvard Chan School and Harvard Kennedy School

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Natalia Linos MSc, ScD

Executive Director, FXB Center for Health & Human Rights at Harvard University

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Nadia Nazar

Founder, Co-Executive Director, & Art Director, Zero Hour

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Jeff Nesbit

Director, Climate Nexus

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Renee N. Salas MD, MPH, MS

Yerby Fellow, Harvard Chan C-CHANGE; Affiliated Faculty, Harvard Global Health Institute; Emergency Medical Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

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Governor Peter Shumlin

81st Governor of Vermont; Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Co-Director, Putney Student Travel

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Secretary Kathleen A. Theoharides

Secretary, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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The Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate is designed to educate, empower, and prepare students to take leadership roles in addressing the climate crisis.

Students who attend the program will:
Attain critical climate change and public health content knowledge.
Develop a Community Action Plan that can be implemented in your school or town, or inspire your life path.
Grow a network of peers and youth leaders to continue the work started at the summit.

Upon presentation of their Community Action Plans, students receive a certificate of program completion, endorsed by Harvard Chan C-CHANGE.

Alumni in the News

From lobbying local selectboards to developing sustainable agriculture plans, Youth Summit alumni come away from the program with actionable plans that can be implemented in their home communities. Here are just a few of our Summit alumni in the news.

Isleboro 11th grader proposes sustainable development goals for town

An article about Julian Kelly, a 2021 summit alum

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A call to action: My experience at the inaugural Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Climate Summit

Ella Niederhelman, 2021 summit alum, makes a call to action to her town

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Full and partial need-based scholarships are available for the 2023 Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate, Equity, & Health. The scholarships provide opportunities for underrepresented students to become the next generation of climate and public health leaders.


To be considered for a scholarship, candidates must meet eligibility criteria and complete an application. For more information and to access application materials, please visit the Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Scholarship Opportunities page.