Advancing Climate Solutions. Now.

Advancing Climate Solutions. Now. Presented by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs

In July 2021, CSTEP launched a new series in partnership with the Institute on the Environment on climate policy honoring retired government, business, community, and University of Minnesota leader Tom Swain in his 100th year.

Rather than looking backward at this point in his life, Tom is looking ahead. Alarmed by the warming of our planet, he is concerned about the fate of future generations as they face life-threatening environmental challenges. Swain is keen to enlist his fellow community members in efforts to reduce the climate threat.

Advancing Climate Solutions. Now. aims to engage and energize students throughout the U of M, as well as residents across the state, to become part of the solution to climate change through policy and advocacy.

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Al Gore

Headshot of Al Gore

Former vice president and climate activist Al Gore was the inaugural speaker in the Advancing Climate Solutions. Now. The Policy Series. Gore discussed the challenges facing the world in addressing the widespread impact of climate change, while also expressing optimism about the growing momentum towards action, in the event attended by an online audience of more than 1,000 people.

Watch video of the October 26, 2021 event

Katharine Hayhoe

Headshot of Katherine Hayhoe

Noted environmental scientist Katharine Hayhoe says the best way to address the climate crisis is pretty simple: we all should talk about it with people we know. That talk will lead to action, on an individual and then a community level, which will in turn influence governments, businesses, and other organizations to make the large-scale systemic changes necessary to mitigate the potential damage from climate change.

Hayhoe’s presentation was co-sponsored by the Big Ten Conference's Democracy in the 21st Century collaboration, and students from all 14 schools in the conference were invited to participate.

Watch video of the April 4, 2022 event

Marshall Johnson

Portrait of Marshall Johnson at Northrop

Distinguished UM Crookston alumnus Marshall Johnson is the chief conservation officer for Audubon, an environmental organization dedicated to the conservation of birds and their natural habitats. He leads strategic direction for hemispheric-wide conservation work at Audubon to address the biodiversity crisis facing birds.

Johnson spoke about the pivotal role that birders can play in addressing the climate crisis.

Watch video of the November 10, 2022 event

Student Grants

Student-led participation in the future of climate policy solutions is at the heart of Tom Swain’s vision for the Advancing Climate Solutions. Now. Initiative. Since its launch in October 2021, the initiative, through the Humphrey School’s CSTEP, began providing financial support to undergraduate and graduate student groups across the U of M five-campus system.

This fall’s application deadline is Monday, October 24. Learn more about student grant opportunities in the Request for Proposals, and Apply Now.

The grants showcase students' commitment to addressing climate change and promoting policies that will reduce greenhouse gases. Proposals are reviewed by a panel of U of M alumni currently working in Climate Action roles.


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First Round Awardees

  • MN Public Interest Research Group - Duluth Campus
    Our Planet, Our Future: Environmental Summit
    Students organized a sustainability fair featuring workshops, keynote speaker, and a panel discussion with prominent Midwest climate activists and educators.
  • STEM Curriculum and Instruction - Twin Cities Campus
    STEMTelling: Climate storytelling for STEM Curriculum
    University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Spring 2022
    Create climate action storytelling curriculum with UMN students studying to be science teachers to enhance students’ STEM identities and connect them to environmental and climate justice.
  • Students for Lake Superior Sustainable Farming, Duluth Campus Land Lab
    UMD (mini) Organic Farming Conference
    The conference featured a student project showcase, skill-building workshops, and a “barnraising” to collaboratively explore local climate issues and solutions, culminating in a student project for the 2022 growing season.
  • MN Public Interest Research Group, Masters of Environmental Education - Duluth Campus
    Student Filmmaking using the MMAD Lab
    University of Minnesota Duluth, Spring 2022
    Empower UMD students to connect the local community with local climate change issues and collaborative solutions through filmmaking, using the “Lens on Climate Change” program as a model.
  • UMN Morris Office of Sustainability, Campus Student Association
    Water and Climate Film Festival
    The student organized film festival featured water and climate change documentaries and shorts. Following the screenings there was networking and socializing, as well as a panel of experts and leaders in water management.

Second Round Awardees

  • 365 Green - Coffman Memorial Union, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, April 2022
    Green Jobs Career Fair and Climate Activist Workshop

    The Green Jobs Career Fair will feature job opportunities working directly with climate action organizations with commitments toward a sustainable future, and opportunities to get engaged across the University. The Climate Activist Workshop will be co-hosted by several University of Minnesota student groups and is designed for students interested in direct action and climate solutions. The workshop will include keynote speakers, small group sessions led by activists, teach-ins, and networking opportunities.
  • Institute on the Environment Graduate Scholars Program - Renewable Energy Cohort, Spring 2022
    Energy Experience Center Displays and Partnership

    In partnership with Renewable Energy Partners, the Science Museum of Minnesota, Institute on the Environment, Minneapolis Climate Action, and others, the cohort will design and build several energy exhibits to be displayed at the Energy Experience Center. The exhibits are part of a larger initiative to collaborate and build working relationships between the University and community partners around Minnesota’s renewable energy transition, and to bring education, training, and career opportunities to low-income and BIPOC communities.
  • Energy and Environmental Policy Club - Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Spring 2022
    Climate Action Breakfast Briefings

    Inspired by their experience at the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow last year, the students will emulate the news briefings given by journalists at the conference, review the latest COP26 news and discuss its implications in the climate conversation over coffee and morning snacks. These twice-monthly panels will feature experts and journalists from the University with news updates followed by conversations and networking.
  • Students for Climate Justice - University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus, April 2022
    Earth Month: Environmental Justice Spotlight Activities

    A five-week Environmental Justice Spotlight throughout Earth Month, including a suncatcher crafting night; a tour of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center; an evening Zoom panel discussion of the Stop Line 3 movement; an art build and Earth Day rally; and a visit to the Native American Medicine Garden.
  • Students for Lake Superior Sustainable Farming - A partnership initiative at UMN Duluth, starting Spring 2022
    Give Bees a Chance

    A spring program featuring a series of pollinator workshops and activities to engage the UMN community and the public to explore the impacts of climate change on pollinators; a visit to the Twin Cities campus to exchange apiary maintenance and programming expertise and explore the Heroes to Hives program; and a mushrooms and bee health training workshop in collaboration with local farmers.
  • UMN Morris Office of Sustainability, Campus Student Association, and Office of Community Engagement - University of Minnesota Morris, April 11-29
    Earth Month Art Contest

    As part of their Earth Month focus on the Division of Humanities’ work surrounding climate change, the art contest will accompany a performance by music faculty at UMN Morris, Ann DuHamel, “Prayers for a Feverish Planet.” Entries will be displayed on campus during April.

Advancing Climate Policy. Now. is made possible by the Swain Climate Policy Fund and is geared to mobilize civic engagement on an ongoing basis, year round.

Elements include:

  • High-profile public lectures featuring world-renowned climate experts and champions
  • Interaction among climate experts, students, researchers, community partners, and the public
  • Policy-focused student internships and research initiatives
  • Development and analysis of policy strategies for reduced reliance on fossil fuels and deployment of carbon-neutral energy resources
  • A focus on climate justice, aimed at reducing the disparate impacts of climate change on people based on geography, income, and race
  • Opportunities for participants to learn how to be more effective climate stewards through both individual and collective action

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Tom Swain

Tom Swain is a longtime government, business, community, and University of Minnesota leader who held a variety of influential positions during his distinguished career.


  • Chief of staff and economic development commissioner under Governor Elmer Anderson
  • Led health policy reform efforts under Governors Arne Carlson and Tim Pawlenty
  • Executive director of the Minnesota Statehood Centennial Commission
  • Mayor of Lilydale

At the Humphrey School:

  • Advisory Council member for nearly 20 years
  • Established the Thomas H. Swain Fellowship in Public Leadership to support mid-career master’s degree students. Some 60 students have benefitted to date.
  • Trusted counsel to several deans
  • Recipient of the 2017 Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award

Thank you for your generous support that helps bring meaningful and actionable steps toward advancing climate change solutions.