NTR Foundation - Supporting Future Climate Change Leaders

The NTR Foundation is an independent philanthropic organisation, founded in 2008 by NTR plc, a leading investor and asset manager of renewable energy projects. In 2018, the Foundation announced a new partnership with DCU Educational Trust to offer two scholarship opportunities to enable recent Access graduates to undertake a new taught Master’s programme in DCU – the MSc in Climate Change: Policy, Media and Society.

The scholarship was open to graduates of DCU’s Access programme, and also to graduates of Access programmes in other Irish higher education institutions that support young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to attend university. In this piece, Vicky Brown of the NTR Foundation explains what inspired the Foundation to create this scholarship opportunity.

2018 was the first year that DCU offered its new MSc in Climate Change: Policy, Media and Society. Why did NTR feel it was important to support this new course?

“Addressing the challenge of climate change is a core focus of NTR Foundation and since our establishment in 2008, we have been providing financial support to carefully selected projects, research and non-governmental organisations working to address this issue.

We are acutely aware of the challenges and barriers to addressing climate change. There is a huge gap in public understanding of what is actually happening with global warming. We believe that leaders are needed across the board in order to drive changes in public awareness and understanding, and we feel that these leaders need to emerge across multiple fields.

We liked that this Master’s brought a social science and humanities perspective to the challenge. Whilst scientists and engineers obviously have a critical role to play, we need other climate change leaders who can apply different skill sets such as translating scientific findings into everyday language. Simply put, we also need a generation of climate change leaders who are journalists, lawyers, solicitors and politicians.”

This Master’s aims to develop a new generation of leaders to tackle climate change. The two scholarships supported by NTR Foundation specifically targeted students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds who had been supported through a university Access Programme. Why did you feel it was important to offer this particular group the opportunity to do the MSc in Climate Change?

“We firmly believe that finance shouldn’t be a barrier that prevents dynamic and talented young people from having the educational opportunities that they deserve, and we certainly didn’t want it to be a barrier that prevented potential climate change leaders from coming forward. We also felt that students who have come through an Access programme have already demonstrated their resilience and an ability to overcome challenges which are valuable traits in any future leader.

We knew that DCU had a very strong Access programme and were delighted to work with the University to identify students that we could support. We are extremely pleased with the two students who have been supported by the NTR Foundation scholarships in 2018/19. They are two amazingly talented young women who will no doubt be among the next generation of climate leaders.”

How do you hope that graduates of the MSc in Climate Change will be able to contribute to the broader global effort to address climate change?

“When we look at the recent climate change marches, a movement led by a 16 year old girl, then we can see how important it is to equip the next generation with the education and ability they need to step up and lead the change required. We don’t have a lot of time left to address global warming and so we are really depending on this generation to make an impact very quickly. We need strong policy moving forward on climate change and we do hope that some of the graduates from this Master’s will go on to work in the area of advocating for and developing new policy approaches to address this challenge.”