Students participating in research activity.

About Us

Climate change is the biggest problem humanity has ever faced, and it will be the defining challenge for the next generation.

To meet this challenge, ICLR is building the Institute for Climate Leadership and Resilience, an organization that will train the next generation of climate leaders for these emergent careers, increase regional resilience on the Central Coast, and make Cal Poly a recognized climate leader in higher education. Cal Poly’s contribution is crucial, and so is yours:

ICLR exists to facilitate collaboration among donors, industry partners, different campus departments, and our global community to create a future workforce that can produce climate solutions. The foundational skills to lead the necessary work of developing climate resilience are teachable, and our students are uniquely qualified with the ability and passion to lead the way.

Resilience is built through human adaptation to climate change and we provide interdisciplinary, hands-on, Learn by Doing educational experiences focused specifically on responding to climate change.

Cal Poly’s robust portfolio of high-impact research centers and firmly established brand of top-tier polytechnic education uniquely position it to provide leadership in developing applied climate solutions and to train the climate professionals of tomorrow.

Cal Poly has many highly-regarded faculty experts working on climate policy and socio-economic impacts, sustainable technologies, climate-smart agriculture and alternative energy, locally and around the world. Cal Poly offers an ideal location due to (i) agricultural, fishery and ecological diversity within many microclimates, (ii) abundant open space, (iii) a diverse socio-economic demographic, (iv) forward-thinking local government, (v) an environmentally-engaged populace, and (vi) proximity to major metropolitan areas in spite of an essentially rural character.


  • College Corps 22-24. $10.6M, 630 fellows.
  • UC-RGPO Climate Seed Program.
  • $1.75M to support SLI.SEI Energize Colleges. 2 research interns from March to July 2023.
  • College Corps 24-26. $11.5M, 672 fellows.


In the News


Service Learning Projects

ICLR coordinates with local jurisdictions to identify projects with components that fit well into existing courses, following the EPIC model. This allows city, county, or other entities to leverage no-cost student work to complete local climate change and sustainability projects, and provides a rich learning experience for the student while producing valuable deliverables for the client entity.

Projects may include:

  • Outreach and education for electrification of buildings
  • Outreach and education for incentive programs for energy reduction
  • Development of EV Readiness Strategy
  • Climate action planning and resilience planning activities
  • Environmental justice and vulnerability assessments

stock images. students participating in research activity.

Example Service Learning Projects

Significant opportunities exist for potential repurposing uses of the Phillips 66 Santa Maria Oil Refinery, according to preliminary analysis conducted by ICLR and commissioned by the Central Coast Economic Recovery Initiative (ERI).  The analysis was produced by two separate student-led projects at Cal Poly, and explored a half dozen different repurposing uses for the Phillips 66 facility that is slated for closure in 2023. Potential reuses analyzed for the site include desalination, green hydrogen generation, grid-scale battery storage, plastics recycling, an anaerobic digester for organic waste, and conservation. Read the full story at

Curriculum Development

ICLR supports faculty developing new curricula related to climate change and sustainability, or adapting existing courses to include a project-based service learning component.

Example courses:

  • NR 310 - Global Climate Change. This junior-level Natural Resources Management course is a general education course open to all majors and covers global climate systems, methods of inference used in climate science, how global warming affects the human and natural world, and policy impacts.
  • BIO 470 - Biology of Climate Change. Biological consequences of climate change at different levels of biological organization and various environments. Atmospheric chemistry, global and regional climate dynamics and history, consequences for human populations. Possible mitigation actions and their contribution to CO2 emission reduction.

ICLR is also working with the Academic Senate Sustainability Committee to develop and revise the campus-wide Sustainability Learning Objectives (SLOs) for courses. These objectives help identify courses that are sustainability-focused or sustainability-related, and courses that meet 2+ of the 4 SLOs are subsequently added to the Sustainability Catalog (SusCat), a resource designed to help students find sustainability courses on campus.

Finally, ICLR is working with the Sustainability Office and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences to produce a Sustainability Literacy Assessment. This is Cal Poly’s third assessment of this kind. Since 2023, this version has been deployed in classes across campus as a 15-minute survey to test students’ sustainability literacy and values, and to attempt to determine whether Cal Poly’s curriculum is adequately fostering sustainability literacy. Over 900 students have been surveyed between 2023-2024. Read about the initial analysis here.

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Professional Development

ICLR offers workshops and courses through Extended Education that promote sustainable practices and allow professionals to pivot towards sustainable pursuits within their chosen career.

Courses include:

  • Carbon Farm Planning. For farmers and agribusiness professionals to learn about low-carbon and regenerative farming techniques and implementation. This course is offered through cooperation with the CAFES Center for Sustainability.
  • High-Performance Buildings. For HVAC professionals to learn about automated control systems and new electric alternatives to gas appliances (heat pumps, thermal energy systems, etc).
  • LCA Literacy. For city staffers and managers of industrial operations to learn about Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA) data; how to interpret it and how to incorporate it in the decision-making process.
  • Climate Action Planning. For city staffers and elected officials to learn about the process of developing a community plan for decarbonizing at a municipal level.

stock images. students participating in research activity.

Climate Solutions Now

The annual ICLR fundraising conference connects faculty, government employees, industry professionals, entrepreneurs, and students, to showcase current and future solutions to climate and sustainability challenges.

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Related Content


Cal Poly has earned a STARS Gold Rating — the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s second highest honor — in recognition of the university’s sustainability achievements.

Cal Poly Ranks Third in CSU for Sustainability Efforts

Learn more here

Contact Us

Erin Pearse 
Phone: (805) 756-5558

Assistant Director
Hadley Willman

Steering Committee
Michael Boswell, CRP
Charles (Dave) Camp, Math
Yiwen Chiu, NRES
Adrienne Greve,  CRP
Jay Peters, ENGL
Lars Tomanek, Bio

DEI in the Bailey College

Learn More