Climate Leadership Certificate

Climate Leadership Certificate Logo

The Climate Leadership Certificate provides the training and experience needed for students to apply a variety of skills to critical work in climate action and justice, as well as other vital areas of sustainability, including social justice, economic vitality, and well-being. Throughout the one-and-a-half year program, students engage in curriculum targeted at sustainability literacy, planning, and leadership, while also participating in hands-on practicum work with a variety of sustainability organizations in Whatcom County and the Methow Valley.

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 2024-2025 Cohort Senior Projects

About the Certificate

Do you care about the planet and the living beings on it? Are you motivated to make a difference? Are you interested in being part of a community?

If you answer yes to any or all of these questions, you’re someone that the Climate Leadership Certificate is designed to support.

The Need

In this age of climate change and social reckoning, we need leaders for sustainability and climate justice.

Bird's Eye View of the thousands of protesters at the People's Climate March, carrying signs and waving banners


,Over 400,000 people participated in the People’s Climate March in NYC in September, 2014. The Youth Climate Strike involved more than 1.4 million youth across 123 countries in March, 2019. The movement to bring awareness and action to the urgent issues of climate change and social equity is growing, and skilled leaders are required.

Washington State has committed to having a carbon neutral electricity grid by 2030, to becoming 100% clean electric by 2045, and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Communities are planning and implementing climate adaptation and mitigation solutions. Innovative systems thinkers and change agents are needed across all sectors.

The Climate Leadership Certificate will help you gain the training and experience needed to apply your skills to critical work in climate action and justice, economic vitality, environmental protection, community health, and equity. We need emerging professionals engaged in climate leadership in all of these disciplines right now; both existing communities and future generations rely on it.

Certificate Program Benefits

  • You will be paid to complete a practicum, which can also count for internship credit
  • Your expenses will be paid for a place-based orientation experience in Whatcom County and the Methow Valley
  • You will develop leadership skills specifically catered to work as a climate change professional.
  • You will build a network of professionals in the field of climate change and sustainability
  • You will develop a strong community of peers fighting for a more just and sustainable society.


Winter 2024 Spring 2024 Pre-Summer Practicum Summer 2024 Fall 2024 Winter 2025 Spring 2025

Sustainability Literacy 1 (SUST 116) or Intro to Sustainability and Society (UEPP 202) in spring quarter

Introduction to Leadership (course number will be sent out)

Sustainability Leadership (SUST 408)

Monthly Forum

Place-based Orientation

Campus Sustainability Planning Studio (SUST 471)


Monthly Forum

Campus Sustainability Planning Studio (SUST 471)

Monthly Forum

Project-based Independent Study

Monthly Forum

Project-based Independent Study

Final Project Presentation


Are you ready to make a difference? We have begun accepting applications for the next cohort.

Hurry! All applications must be submitted by 5:00pm on October 27th for consideration.

In order to apply, you must be a junior in standing at the time of application. This certificate is designed to complement many degree plans at Western. We are looking for students that represent a range of degrees, backgrounds, and interests.

Required application components

  • Personal Statement (1-2 pages, 12 pt font, single-spaced). This personal statement should articulate:

    • How this certificate fits with your educational and career goals;
    • A description of what lived experiences have led you to be interested in this certificate;
    • A definition of what climate justice means to you, and how you imagine contributing to a more equitable and just community;
    • What you hope to get out of the practicum experience. Please consider your learning, content interests, and location preference (either Whatcom County or Methow Valley). See practicum section for more details regarding potential positions and our two locations.
  • Your Resume, including related courses you have taken, your GPA, and relevant experience.

Submit your application to using the subject line "CLC Cohort 4 application".

Academic Requirements

  • Winter Quarter:
    • Sustainability Literacy I (UEPP 116), 3 credits, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-3:20pm with an associated 1-credit course that will introduce leadership concepts and provide practice in important leadership skills, like facilitation.
  • Spring Quarter:
    • Sustainability Leadership (SUST 408), 4 credits, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-3:40pm
  • Summer or Fall Quarter:
    • Campus Sustainability Planning Studio (UEPP 471). For students with practicum placements in the Methow Valley, you will take this course in the summer. For students with practicum placements in Whatcom County, you will take this course in the fall.
  • Winter and Spring Quarters:
    • Project-based Independent Study (4-8 credits, depending on your project interest and credit needs)
    • Click the link to view past projects


For the practicum experience, students will work on climate change topics within local organizations, both within Whatcom County and the Methow Valley. Students who need internship credits for their degrees may enroll in up to 8 credits as part of these positions.

The Positions and Their Locations

Six different organizations will host positions in Whatcom County, and six will host positions in the Methow Valley. Please see below for last year's list of organizations and associated position descriptions. Positions for 2022 are still in development, so check back soon. The positions will focus on climate justice, energy and transportation solutions, sustainable food systems, climate action planning, and well-being.


Most positions will align with the summer quarter schedule, beginning June 21st and ending August 19th. Depending on the needs of the organization, these dates may shift, expand, or compress, slightly, but the number of total hours will remain the same. These details will be posted when the final position descriptions are published.


Each position is paid. It will be paid for 24 hours/week for 10 weeks, at $16.28 by next summer, for a total of 220-240 hours.


For the positions based in Whatcom County, housing will not be provided.
For the positions based in the Methow Valley, modest housing will be provided.

Co-curricular Activities

Expense Paid Place-Based Orientation

Between spring and summer quarters of the first year of the program, students will participate in an expense paid, five-day place-based orientation. If COVID allows, this will include field-based visits around the region which help the cohort understand climate change and sustainability in Whatcom County and the Methow Valley. There will also be a focus on developing community within the cohort. Alternatives will be developed if COVID prevents gathering in place. Transportation, meals, and any other programmatic costs will be covered during this orientation.

Regular Community Forums

Once per month throughout the course of the program there will be a community forum. The forum will serve as an opportunity for the cohort to connect with each other, to problem-solve challenges encountered in projects and/or coursework, and to dig deeper into some of the key competencies for being climate leaders.