Panel Discussions at COP28 Highlight: The Essential Role of Academic Integrity in Environmental Policy
Friday, 22 December, 2023
At the recent COP28 conference, a panel discussion led by Dr Zeenath Khan, Assistant Professor at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD), School of Computer Science, put the spotlight on the crucial role of academic integrity in the field of environmental policy. The panel, entitled 'Academic Integrity as Key Competence for UN SDG 13 Climate Change,' was an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Education, organised through the Greening Education Hub.
Dr Khan, who moderated and curated the session, emphasized the dire consequences of compromised integrity in climate research. She noted that such lapses not only hinder policy development but also erode public trust in science, a concerning trend in an era rife with misinformation. The discussion delved into how maintaining honesty in scientific studies is fundamental to ensuring that public debates and policy decisions are rooted in factual, unbiased information.
The panel also brought to light the importance of ethical considerations in combating climate change, emphasizing the need for inclusivity and equity in policymaking. Drawing attention to historical instances like the Climategate controversy of 2009, where claims of data manipulation in climate science were debunked, the panellists underscored the necessity of transparency and accountability in research.
Dr Khan, along with a diverse group of speakers including educators, students, and professionals, discussed the role of educational institutions in instilling values like honesty, fairness, and accountability among students. The speakers taking part in the panel discussion were:
- Veena Mulani, Head of Moral Ed and Social Studies, Al Diyafah High School
- Dr Ted Purinton, Founding Dean, Sharjah Education Academy
- Professor Christopher Hill, Faculty of Education, British University in Dubai
- Professor Melodena Stephens, Professor of Innovation and Governance, Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG)
- Sarah Wilson, 13th Grade Student, GEMS Cambridge
- Neha Hemnani, 2nd Year Student, UOWD
- Dr Sreejith Balasubramaniam, Associate Professor and Chair of Research Committee, Middlesex University Dubai
They advocated for integrating these values not just as standalone subjects but as integral components of various disciplines and campus life. This approach, they argued, would help shape students' ethical compass, preparing them to be future leaders in climate policy with a strong foundation in academic integrity.
“The session highlighted the need for institutions to encourage students to confidently ask 'why' and navigate a world where balancing opportunity and integrity is challenging”, Dr Khan declared.
Earlier this year, UOWD collaborated with the European Network for Academic Integrity, signing an MOU that led to the recognition of the ENAI WG Centre for Academic Integrity in the UAE. This session at COP28 served as a natural continuation of UOWD's ongoing efforts in this important area, further highlighting the university's dedication to promoting ethical academic practices.