In a rousing Commencement address at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Former Vice President Al Gore said that despite the magnitude of the climate crisis, humanity has the capacity to seize the opportunity for a better future. “The will to change is itself a renewable resource,” he said. Nearly 700 students received diplomas, the largest graduating class in the School’s 97-year history.
Former Vice President Gore shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for sounding the alarm about the threat of global warming and praised the Columbia Mailman School for pioneering research on the associated health risks.
“The Mailman School is known around the world for its leadership in exploring this connection,” he said. “Dean Fried and the faculty should feel pride for paving the way to this growing awareness by other medical experts around the world.”
In 2009, Columbia Mailman launched its Climate and Health Program, the first such program in a public health school. More recently, the School led the creation of the Global Consortium on Climate and Health Education, named in a 2018 Lancet report as an example of a positive step toward meeting the need to educate healthcare professionals on the risks of climate change.
Student speaker Ms. Shadin Awad described experiences she had in her home country of Sudan that inspired her to recognize the importance of cultural humility and critical analysis needed to engage with the intertwined struggles for health and justice.
In opening remarks, Dean Linda P. Fried recognized the diverse talents of the graduates. “You are epidemiologists and ethicists, statisticians and systems-thinkers, policy developers and leaders, environmental health scientists, and health promoters. You are the nation’s and the world’s future leaders for the public’s health.”Friday Letter Submission