Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS)早稲田大学 高等研究所


Research Seminar for Transdisciplinary Perspectives Toward Environmental Sustainability
“The role of engineering in tackling climate change: Climate science basics and student engagement”

“The role of engineering in tackling climate change: Climate science basics and student engagement” (April 20)


Waseda Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS), Waseda University


Research Institute for Environmental Economics and Management, Waseda University

WINPEC Renewable Energy Project, Waseda University


Dr. Christoph Ponak

Chair of Thermal Processing Technology, University of Leoben, Austria

Dr. Christoph Ponak is a Senior Scientist at the Chair of Thermal Processing Technology at the University of Leoben, Austria. He studied Process Engineering and Industrial Environmental Protection at the same institution. His research activities have been focusing on high temperature recycling processes for communal and industrial residues such as sewage sludge ash, steelmaking slag and lithium ion batteries, with a special focus on the reaction behaviour of phosphorus.

He also teaches on the subjects of “High Temperature Process Engineering” as well as “Climate Protection and Systemic Sustainability” and collaborated with The University of Tokyo in the course of an outgoing research stay in 2018/2019.

Dr. Ponak co-initiated the associations “Engineers for a Sustainable Future” (www.esfuture.at) and “shiftTanks” (www.shifttanks.at), which he also (co-)leads. Their objective is to raise awareness and educate regarding climate protection and sustainability in engineering and heavy-industry related fields and to promote active, voluntary, extra-curricular student engagement.


Associate Professor, WIAS

Date & Time

Tuesday, 20 April 2021, 16:00 – 17:30


This seminar will be held online by Zoom.




Climate change and sustainability have been in the centre of public attention for decades. However, this kind of attention was often limited to short time periods following individual weather extremes or climate-related catastrophes. In the 3rd decade of the 21st century, many scenarios scientists have long warned to avoid at all costs, are already inevitable and limiting further climate change impacts on modern societies has become the main issue for most interest groups.

Unfortunately, there is a huge discrepancy between stakeholder groups that proclaim loudly that immediate action must be taken – often in a way suggesting personal sacrifices regarding luxury and convenience – and their individual impact that exceeds raising awareness. Heavy-industry and engineering branches are considered problems, not keys to solutions. In reality, rich societies drastically need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and personal sacrifices are definitely a must. Nonetheless, emerging mega-cities exceeding populations of 80 mio. people in the global south in which personal sacrifice is not an option and the distribution of renewable energy sources and rising energy demand suggest that interdisciplinary research and development as well as disruptive innovation will determine our fate with regard to climate change.

Therefore, and for a number of other reasons, engineering students play a crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaption. Education, student engagement and interdisciplinary networking need to be intensified immediately. As with any crisis, prevention will come at a much lower cost than mitigation and adaption. Since, however, we are already in the midst of a crisis, a growing number of young people show strong concerns regarding their future and a high percentage of engineering and heavy-industry related students know that they do not want to be a part of the problem but want to be and can be a vital part of the solution.

In this presentation, a shot is taken at communicating the scientific basics of climate change and how to communicate systemic interconnections in education and to tap and transform student engagement. Even concerned people of all age groups and disciplinary fields often do not have the facts ready to deal with climate myths and deniers. Communicating crucial facts on a scientific basis can be key to broad mobilisation and motivation.

Prospected Audience

Faculty members of university, graduate students


Please send an e-mail titled “Apr. 20th WIAS Sustainability Seminar” including your name and affiliation to rieem.waseda [at] gmail.com by April 16 (Fri).

You will receive a reply mail by April 19 (Mon) with registration URL.

  • 0420



Online / ZOOM


Mon, 05 Apr 2021

Page Top
WASEDA University