UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative Principles of Conduct and Engagement

The UMass Lowell Climate Change Initiative (CCI) is a University Research Center with a mission to inform and catalyze evidence-based climate action. Our shared goal is for our research, education, and outreach to foster a transition to a sustainable, resilient, and equitable society. Our principles of conduct and engagement seek to ensure that our work supports CCI's mission and that our organization serves as a model for the transition to a sustainable, resilient, and equitable society that we seek to help.

We recognize the complexity of climate solutions and the need for active, engaged discussion that is inclusive of different perspectives. We welcome that discussion and seek to foster it among our members and with those they engage with.

We create intentional space for critical, authentic, and engaged reflection on issues related to research related to climate change and its solutions. We aim to share experiences and build community among members of the CCI.

This document provides and overview of our core principles of conduct and engagement, especially where they go above and beyond those of the broader University.

Sustainability in practice:

  • We use sustainable practices in our own operations, within the constraints of the University's existing facilities and supply chains.
  • As part of a public research university, it is both our responsibility and privilege to serve as a model for others in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and beyond and to support the Commonwealth's climate action goals through its Leading By Example program.
    • We embrace opportunities to develop and experiment with new sustainable practices, including building and infrastructure projects that mitigate carbon emissions and increase resilience. 
    • We share our sustainability innovations so that information about them is publicly available and they can be adopted by others.

Diversity, inclusion, and environmental and climate justice

  • We are part of a Minority-Serving Institution with ~40% of its students identifying as first-generation-to-college and that is physically and culturally embedded in environmental justice communities. We recognize that historically marginalized communities, including those that are integral to our campus community, have been and will disproportionately impacted by climate change. We recognize that we cannot achieve the necessary transition without ensuring environmental justice, with equitable access to representation and the opportunities that a transition offers.
  • We support and follow UMass Lowell's policies and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Where our project activities and impacts are associated with communities external to the university, we invite members and representatives of these communities to participate in, co-create, and inform the direction of our research and engagement efforts.
  • We embrace opportunities to partner with communities and local institutions to co-create knowledge and acknowledge and advance different forms of knowledge.
  • We value the voices of our students, whose lives are directly affected by inter-generational aspects of climate change and who offer perspectives about climate action that are critical to our mission.
  • We actively work to engage students, staff, and faculty from historically disadvantaged communities. 

Funding sources and partners:

We seek to collaborate with individuals and organizations that share an affiliation with our mission.

  • We will participate in partnerships, collaborations, and accept funding from organizations that support the CCI's mission.
  • We are truthful and transparent about our goals, projects, funding sources and amounts, and in our public communications. We will not pursue any activity, with or on behalf of individuals, corporate partners, or any other organization that we cannot proudly share with the public. 
  • Anonymous donations are only accepted from individuals or groups that CCI would proudly disclose if given permission.
  • We never influence or conceal scientific or policy publications generated by or connected to our activities on behalf of a funder or other partner.
  • We seek to avoid all conflicts of interest and disclose any potential conflicts of interest that may exist among our staff.
  • We will work to ensure that all projects, regardless of funding source, respect the independence of all CCI activities, educational materials and work, and research findings; do not limit dissemination of findings; and allow full disclosure of the relationship between CCI and its partners, collaborators, and funders.

CCI members agree to abide by these shared Principles

We recognize that peer-reviewed research shows evidence of bias in academic research funded by non-governmental entities that work against or seek to delay evidence-based climate action (e.g., Almond et al. 2022). We also recognize climate change and climate action are complex, rapidly evolving fields and that it can be difficult to clearly define and communicate policy recommendations that stem from our research.

All CCI members are strongly encouraged to participate in CCI retreats, meetings, and/or other events to maintain active membership.

All CCI members agree to fully disclose their funding sources and share them publicly on our website.

The CCI promises to provide its members with opportunities to discuss and get feedback on work that might be misconstrued or used by others to support actions or policies that are not aligned with our mission. Any CCI member seeking such feedback can contact any member of the Steering Committee to request a meeting or written feedback.

Support available to CCI members

All CCI Steering Committee members are available to support CCI members' academic integrity, academic freedom, and effective communication of our policy-relevant work. The Steering Committee is drawn from all five colleges at UMass Lowell and represents diverse academic disciplines and backgrounds, offering a variety of expertise and perspectives to support members' work. We encourage CCI members to share ideas, drafts, proposals, policy briefs, op-eds, preprints, or any other description of their work with any support staff or any Steering Committee members to get feedback on academics integrity, academic freedom, or communication questions they have.

Literature Cited

  • Almond, D., Du, X. & Papp, A. Favourability towards natural gas related to funding source of university energy centres. Nature Climate Change12, 1122-1127, doi:10.1038/s41558-022-01521-3 (2022).