Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate


Confronting Climate Realities with Concrete Action

Session 1: July 18–24, 2021  Tuition: $3,990  Location: Harvard Chan C-CHANGE, Boston, MA

Join like-minded students, engaging educators, and inspiring mentors this summer for a climate change program with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Choose an Action Focus and delve into climate issues related to your interests, strengths, and passions. Gain perspective from world leaders and politicians. Meet inspiring activists, scientists, renewable energy innovators, and entrepreneurs at the forefront of addressing the climate crisis. Engage with themes such as health, energy, water, transportation, and agriculture, and, over the course of the program, develop a capstone project focused on transforming your ideas into action.

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


Learn from experts at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other experts, including academics, policymakers, and scientists working in fields related to climate change. 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 political and industry leaders, including the Director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE and the former governor of Vermont.

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Climate Action Plan

Develop a Climate 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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“I am excited to be a part of a program at Harvard that will help give students the tools to tackle both the biggest challenge and opportunity of any generation born to this earth so far.”

— Harvard Senior fellow Governor Peter Shumlin

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The Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate brings together motivated and like-minded young people to learn from and be inspired by political leaders, climate activists, scientists, energy innovators, entrepreneurs, and each other.

Action Focus

Each student chooses an Action Focus based on their interests—Community, Industry, Policy & Security, Press & Media, or Science & Technology. This Action Focus acts as the lens through which students view the challenges of climate change. Each day, Action Focus groups and instructors meet to delve into the complex systems within their Focus, discuss and brainstorm how to address challenges, and prepare capstone projects.

Program Location

Daily workshops, Action Focus meetings, and guest speaker events take place near the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School in academic buildings and outdoor settings around Boston. Offsite and field-based learning activities balance classroom and workshop time.

Residence & Accommodations

Students and residential instructors reside at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, just a short walk away from the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. Rooms are doubles and assigned by age; genders are separated by floor; and staff reside on the same floors as students. Residence Halls have 24-hr 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 Museum of Natural History and Harvard Yard. Stroll the streets of Harvard Square, kayak the Charles River, or play frisbee on the quad.


Become part of a community of high school students and instructors with diverse interests and a shared passion for addressing the climate crisis. Students hail from across the U.S. and around the world, creating a vibrant and dynamic community of motivated, driven individuals.

Inspiring Leaders

Guest lecturers and workshop leaders provide important context for our climate 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 capstone project presentations.

Your Action Focus

When applying to the Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summit on Climate, you will choose a particular Action Focus based on your interests and personal goals for the future—Science & Technology, Industry, Policy & Security, Community, or Press & Media. This Focus is the angle from which you will approach the climate crisis over the course of the week, along with peers who have chosen your same track. The entire Climate Summit community comes together for guest lectures and many activities, but part of each day is dedicated to working closely with your Action Focus peers and instructors as you build toward your culminating presentation.

Science & Technology

What roles do technological innovation and scientific advancement play in the mitigation of climate change and our adaptation to its effects? What current technologies have already been employed and what further developments await on the horizon? Delve into the efficacy of renewable energy production and carbon capture, then expand your discussions to emergent geoengineering methods such as solar radiation management, stratospheric aerosol injection, and ocean fertilization. Assess the tradeoffs and timelines associated with each approach and address the risks and psychological ramifications of holding out for a technological “silver bullet.”

Policy & Security

Where does the U.S. stand on the international stage in its response to the climate crisis? What role does it play in international governing bodies, and what domestic policies and political considerations have influenced this role? Moreover, as security experts and intelligence officials increasingly describe climate change as a “threat multiplier,” how do national and global security considerations play into U.S. domestic and international policy? Discuss how climate hazards threaten infrastructure, health, and security, and what policy or action could help shape our response to such security threats.


From the oil and gas industries to agriculture and transportation, industries can have serious negative environmental and health impacts. Indeed, the majority of fossil fuel emissions (70%) come from just 100 companies. But as corporate social responsibility and sustainability initiatives gain momentum, what positive impacts can major industry players have? Delve into the historical relationship between industry and climate science, track the evolution of industry messaging, and explore case studies to understand differing corporate responses to the climate crisis. How effective are corporate climate initiatives? Where do business, economic, social, and environmental interests intersect, and can they be balanced to reduce global climate change? How can and should policy mandate corporate action, and how much influence do consumers and citizens have?


What are communities and groups doing to change the behavior of people, governments, and other entities? How can regular citizens be active participants in climate change awareness and action? From groups such as the Sunrise Movement and 350.org to local organizing around community solar programs, explore the diverse strategies of various communities, organizations, and movements. Are individual actions enough to combat climate change, or what systemic change required? Which countries and communities are taking leadership on climate issues, and what techniques have they used to ignite positive changes? Assess the efficacy of different types of community actions, both historically and today, and evaluate the most effective way forward for individuals and citizen groups.

Press & Media

While the scientific consensus around climate change is clear, the polarization of media outlets and the abundance of misinformation have complicated the process of coming to a shared public understanding of the facts. How do mainstream and alternative news outlets narrate stories of climate change differently? What are the responsibilities of media when it comes to presenting opposing viewpoints that contradict factual information? 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 and data, or narratives and stories?

Program Structure

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

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 five Action Focuses and their area of expertise. For example, an expert in oceanography might discuss how climate change is affecting the ocean and include the current technology used to mitigate the effects, the industries involved, the policies regulating (or not regulating) the problem, any community response or involvement, and the media’s role in disseminating information thus far.

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 content knowledge.
Develop a Climate Action Plan that can be implemented in their schools, communities, or life paths.
Grow a network of peers and climate change leaders to continue the work started at the summit.

Students receive, upon presentation of their Climate Action Plans, a certificate of program completion, endorsed by Harvard Chan C-CHANGE.


Scholarship opportunities are now available for the July 2021 Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Summits on Climate and Health. The scholarship provides full and partial need-based scholarships for underrepresented students and communities to empower 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 summer 2021 application materials, please visit the Harvard Chan C-CHANGE Youth Scholarship opportunities page.

Peace of Mind Payment & Refund Policy

In light of uncertainty regarding travel during 2021, the $700 payment ($200 application fee and $500 tuition deposit) required to hold space on one of our programs this summer is 100% refundable for any reason until April 15, 2021.

If after April 15 you decide you aren’t comfortable traveling on your program, we will work with you to find a space on another program you’re excited about. If you don’t have a second choice program and decide not to travel, your payment is non-refundable.

To read our FAQs about COVID-19 and travel in 2021, click here.