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Global Opinion Poll at UN Climate Change Conf.

ITHACA, NY — Ithaca College will be well-represented at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 15th Conference of the Parties (COP-15), being held Dec. 5–18 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Twenty students from the International Environmental Policy course, five Ithaca College alumni and associate professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences Susan Allen-Gil will all attend the conference, at which world leaders will try to reach a new international agreement for combating climate change.Ithaca College is one of only a handful of academic institutions to be granted permanent observer status at these annual climate treaty gatherings; the college also sent observer teams to prior conferences held in Canada, Kenya, Indonesia and Poland.The United Nations has accepted the Ithaca College delegation’s application to offer a collaborative “exhibit” this year in conjunction with an interdisciplinary research team from Dickinson College. The group has created a social media and public polling service called the Public Opinion Polls of the COP15 — “POPCOP15.”“Each day of the conference, the students will post a single question on climate change to the public by blogging, twittering, e-mailing and obtaining responses in person, with the results displayed online and in a public exhibit space at the convention,” said Allen-Gil. “With a goal of gathering one million responses per day, the objective is simple: to ensure that other voices are heard and widely held opinions are represented at the negotiations.”Students in the International Environmental Policy course, which is taught by Allen-Gil, have spent the fall preparing for the conference by assessing the state of scientific knowledge on climate change and gaining insight on international environmental negotiations, including the role that nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and colleges and universities can play. Alumnus Rick Otis ’76, a former deputy associate administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency who has advised the class throughout the semester, will accompany the students to Copenhagen. A charter signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Ithaca College has been recognized with a Campus Sustainability Leadership Award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Some financial support for attending the conference was provided through a “Commit-to-Change” grant, awarded by the HSBC in the Community Foundation to fund the development of educational and outreach activities in environmental studies.To participate in the daily POPCOP15 opinion polls, visit http://www.popcop15.com. To learn more about the Ithaca College delegation, visit http://iep2009.weebly.com.For more information, contact Susan Allen-Gil at sallen@ithaca.edu.

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