ASU students represent Urban Climate Research Center at UN convention

Nine students will be visiting Chile to represent the University as delegates

This year, nine student delegates have been chosen to represent ASU at the United Nations Climate Change Conference this December in Santiago, Chile. 

Peter Crank, a geography Ph.D. student at the Urban Climate Research Center, has been chosen to represent the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

The event, referred to as COP 25, is the 25th U.N. Climate Change Conference. It will include meetings of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. This conference will discuss problems and solutions concerning climate change.

Sonja Klinsky, an associate professor at the School of Sustainability who is part of putting the delegation together, said in an emailed statement said that, “ASU is an official observing entity and has been sending delegates of students, staff and faculty for a number of years." 

Klinsky said that students are chosen from different schools within ASU based on their justification of how attending the event will broaden their educational horizon. 

“Students are selected on a competitive basis based on their articulation of how the opportunity to attend will help them deepen their work and/or contribute to the larger ASU community," Klinsky said.

Klinsky also said they try to assemble as diverse of a delegation as possible.

"Each year, we also purposefully try to have as wide a diversity of students as possible – in terms of research areas, seniority, and goal of attendance,” Klinsky said.

Crank's work has focused on making the design of neighborhoods more sustainable and then evaluating how it physically and psychologically benefits the residents within them. 

“Going to COP 25 isn’t really something I expected to do, but I am excited to interact with the more policy side of climate change,” Crank said. “It's my first time engaging with a large international governmental agency.”

Crank said the process of becoming a delegate was surprisingly quick. 

Announcements to apply went up mid-September, and shortly after Crank was recommended by the Director of the Urban Climate Research Center David Sailor.

“Klinsky gave the invitation to invite delegates from ASU,” Sailor said. “Knowing Peter Crank's interests, focusing on urban climate and an interest in broader climate issues, made it very niche for him to participate in this conference."

Crank then submitted a paragraph statement on how he was qualified to attend, stemming from him being a climate scientist and serving the graduate and professional student body as assembly president, and why he was interested in attending. All of the students had to fund the trips themselves, either through grants or from personal funds.

Conference events will range from actions the U.N. is taking compared to what smaller organizations like individual countries, states and businesses are doing. 

The Urban Climate Research Center hopes to provide knowledge on climate change at the local level, which is a big part of why the school is sending a delegate.

“The geographical sciences and urban climatology backgrounds are two unique pieces that have been so far been underrepresented by ASU,” Crank said.

ASU hopes that Crank's attendance will help fill that void.

“I want to know the global conversation,” Crank said. “Where the global conversation is? Where are the issues at? How can my research speak to that now? Or how can I tailor the way I do research to address the questions these countries are asking? That is both beneficial to them and me, because helping people is what I want to do.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Crank's major. The story has been updated to reflect this change. 

Reach the reporter at and follow @wmyskow on Twitter. 

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