Trainers’ Training: Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience

This trainers’ training invited the University of California (UC) community to scale the Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience to all ten campuses, in line with the goals of the Student Engagement working group of the UC President’s Global Climate Leadership Council.

About the Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience

Developed at UC Irvine, the Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience was a three-day residential program that provided a select cohort of incoming first year and transfer students with a meaningful introduction to:

  • their campus’ carbon neutrality, sustainability, food action, and environmental justice communities;
  • ways that scholarship and practice at the UC address issues of climate and ecological crisis, social equity, and regenerative economy;
  • leadership modalities that develop inner awareness as well as deepen understanding of the interdependence of all life, intersectionality, cultural narratives, collaborative problem solving, and systems thinking;
  • tools for stepping into action; and
  • opportunities to engage as they enter student life.

The Institute’s learning outcomes were shaped by these aims. The Institute drew upon pedagogies and practices from multiple sources, some of which are described here and here.

The Institute has its roots in UC Irvine’s Student Institute for Sustainability Leadership (SISL). Many SISL alumni have gone on to become key campus leaders in these areas and have shaped their academic pursuits accordingly. SISL is facilitated by the UCI Sustainability Resource Center (SRC). SRC is a collaboration among UCI Community Resilience Projects, Student Affairs, Student Housing, and Division of Undergraduate Education. SRC created SISL in 2013 and joined in partnership with the international non-governmental organization SERES in 2015 to update the training design. From these roots, UCI Community Resilience Projects began collaboration with training partner Aryeh Shell in 2017 to design the Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience.

About the Trainers’ Training

The 2018 Trainers’ Training enabled a core group of interested staff and faculty from across the UC campuses to conduct a pilot Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience on their campus in 2018-19. The Trainers’ Training was put together by UCI Community Resilience Projects, a learning community that fosters equity-oriented and inclusive solutions to our climate challenges. We aimed to build a UC-wide cohort of faculty and staff who seek community in experiential educational approaches that deepen our students’ understandings of the ways that climate change, racism and all social injustice, economic inequality, and our challenged democracy are connected. The Trainers’ Training also provided us a chance to build our students’ toolkits for transformative action in ways that connect across these issues. The Trainers’ Training included opportunities for skills-sharing among trainees.

The Trainers’ Training was held in two sessions, with each session taking place during a 2.5-day residential retreat.

Session 1 enabled trainees to experience the Institute as a participant cohort while engaging in a discussion on the pedagogy, facilitation skills, and theory of change.

Session 2 enabled trainees to practice facilitating multiple modules with feedback, tailor material for their campus, and innovate with their colleagues. They also developed an action plan for implementing their pilot Institute.

Full participation in both training sessions was required. Trainees received a curriculum manual and all handouts, notes, and resources required to run the Institute on their campus. Seed funds and modest stipends to conduct one pilot was provided to each UC campus from which two faculty and/or professional staff members complete the trainers’ training. UCI Community Resilience Projects’ Abby Reyes and Aryeh Shell led the trainers’ training.


Trainers’ Training 2018

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Trainees were required to complete both sessions.


Trainers’ Training Details

The Trainers’ Training welcomed applicants who were current professional staff or faculty members from University of California (UC) campuses, the UC Division of Agricultural and Natural Resources, and the UC national labs. Applicants need not necessarily be campus sustainability staff.

The UC staff and faculty who gained the most from this training were those with prior experience facilitating transformative leadership approaches with young people and an orientation towards popular education, experiential education, and the Institute’s aims. We also warmly welcomed applicants who are passionate about gaining these professional skills, but who may not yet have experience. The ideal trainee has:

  • Working understanding of ways that the basic sustainability concepts (social equity, economic vitality, and environmental balance) interact;
  • Working understanding of ways that interlocking systems of power have an impact on those most marginalized in society;
  • Demonstrated ability to facilitate experiential education processes;
  • Established mechanisms to interact with UC students in a co-curricular education and/or classroom context on their home campus; and
  • Passion for being a catalyst for social change education.

The selection committee also took note of the references provided in the application. The application seeks contact information for three professional references who could, if asked, comment on the applicant’s candidacy from the following groups:

  • UC student or alum
  • UC professional staff or administrative colleague
  • UC faculty colleague

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirement, applicants were expected to demonstrate:

  • Commitment to attend both training sessions (September 10-12 and October 17-19, 2018);
  • Anticipated support from a relevant supervisor or department for applicant’s participation in the training;
  • Intention to produce and lead one pilot Institute (3-day residential program) for incoming/first-year/transfer students on the applicant’s home campus prior to November 2019, including at least an indication of interest by a relevant campus unit in hosting the pilot; and
  • Intention to produce and lead one Community Climate Resilience Networking Event (2-hour program) for campus stakeholders shortly after the pilot, and prior to July 2019.

Upon completion of both training sessions, trainees were eligible to receive seed funding ($5,000 per UC campus) to produce one pilot Institute before November 2019. Trainees were also be eligible to receive a small honorarium ($200 per trainee) in recognition of their completion of the training and of their role in producing the pilot Institute.

Upon completion of the pilot Institute, trainees were eligible to receive additional seed funding ($500 per UC campus) to produce the Community Climate Resilience Networking Event.

The program also covered the following costs for each trainee:

  • Professional development training valued at approximately $1,500
  • Curriculum manual and other training materials
  • Individual and group coaching calls after the trainers’ training and before each campus’ pilot Institute
  • Food and lodging during both training sessions

Please see “costs” section to learn about trainees’ responsibilities for certain costs associated with the training.

The program covered the following costs for each trainee:

  • Professional development training valued at approximately $1,500
  • Curriculum workbook and other training materials
  • Food and lodging during both training sessions

Trainees were expected to cover the following costs:

  • Transportation to and from the training venue for both sessions
  • Ancillary travel expenses before and after both training sessions

The application included 6 short answer questions regarding your interest and experience. It also collected basic information about your role at the UC, reference contact information, and anticipated campus support for participation in this program. Preview application questions here (PDF).

The selection committee was drawn from faculty, staff, and students affiliated with the UCI Community Resilience Projects and the UC Global Climate Leadership Council.

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For more information, please email


The Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience has roots in UCI’s SISL and was sponsored by the UC Global Climate Leadership Council:

UCI SISL: 2015 Overview

UC GCLC Student Engagement Work Group 

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