​AKU & UBC Student Research Forum 2023

​The Global Climate Crisis: East to West

Perspectives, Challenges and Solutions

​About the Programme

Dates: May 3, 2023 - May 24, 2023 (Wednesdays)

Location: Online

​This pilot Global Virtual Classroom programme is a four-week online student research forum focused on the health impacts of climate change. The forum is an opportunity for students from UBC and Aga Khan University to collaborate across disciplines and cultures, problem-solve on some of the world's toughest issues, and co-create original research. With mixed teams involving students from both universities, the programme ​​​consists of the following:  

  • Lectures, discussions and workshops led by academics and professionals in the field 
  • Pre-course assignments to prepare for the academic sessions and group work 
  • Group work to develop original research presentations based on the topic 
  • Virtual site visits 
  • Final group presentations  
  • Final individual report 

Theme: The Global Climate Crisis: East to West; perspectives, challenges and solutions.   

Climate change is the single biggest health threat facing humanity, and health professionals worldwide are already responding to the health harms caused by this unfolding crisis. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that to avert catastrophic health impacts and prevent millions of climate change-related deaths, the world must limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Past emissions have already made a certain level of global temperature rise and other changes to the climate inevitable. Global heating of even 1.5°C is not considered safe, however; every additional tenth of a degree of warming will take a serious toll on people’s lives and health. 

While no one is safe from these risks, the people whose health is being harmed first and worst by the climate crisis are the people who contribute least to its causes, and who are least able to protect themselves and their families against it - people in low-income and disadvantaged countries and communities. 

The climate crisis threatens to undo the last fifty years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction, and to further widen existing health inequalities between and within populations. It severely jeopardizes the realization of universal health coverage (UHC) in various ways – including by compounding the existing burden of disease and by exacerbating existing barriers to accessing health services, often at the times when they are most needed. Over 930 million people - around 12% of the world’s population - spend at least 10% of their household budget to pay for health care. With the poorest people largely uninsured, health shocks and stresses already currently push around 100 million people into poverty every year, with the impacts of climate change worsening this trend. 

Key issues and questions for reflection and group work

  • ​What are the health impacts of climate change globally, and how are the impacts and challenges similar or different in Canada and Pakistan?  
  • Who is most affected by the health impacts of climate change in Canada and Pakistan? 
  • What are some mitigation and adaptation approaches in both countries? 
  • How can educators, researchers, health providers and policymakers in different countries work together to help address the health impacts of climate change? 
  • How do countries protect those that are marginalized or disadvantaged in society, and address inequality in terms of the health impacts of climate change? 
  • How can countries’ climate mitigation policies positively impact health?  
  • What changes can be made in Canada/ Pakistan to food systems, transport, energy and housing sectors that improve health? 
  • Participating students will have the opportunity to learn about the health impacts of climate change and climate change education in Canada and Pakistan first-hand while receiving mentorship from professors from both UBC and AKU.  ​


The forum consists of four, two-hour academic sessions held each Wednesday in May (3, 10, 17, 24). The first three sessions will each be led by a UBC and an AKU faculty member and each session will focus on a different aspect of the theme. Students will be placed into cross-institutional, cross-disciplinary teams to work on developing a group research presentation focused on a sub-theme of their choice. Teams will meet outside lecture hours to work on their research presentations, which will be delivered on the final Saturday.

  • Sessions will be held at 8 – 10 am / 8 – 10 pm (Vancouver/ Karachi or Karachi/ Vancouver)​​

AKU Academic Sponsors

​UBC Academic Sponsors​​

Student Eligibility

Up to 15 AKU students will be selected to participate: Undergraduate students or graduate students are eligible to apply, though priority will be given to senior undergraduate students. Successful applicants should demonstrate strong academic performance, interest and experience in extra-curricular activities, and be good team-player.  

  • Full-time undergraduate (minimum 2nd year or higher) or graduate students  
  • Students from any faculty are eligible 
  • Highly motivated students who possess a strong interest in the forum themes.
  • Before the forum, participants should prepare for fruitful discussion by researching a specific topic of interest relevant to the main theme.​


This is a fully funded programme. There are no student participation fees. ​​

How to Apply

  1. In your application, you will be asked to provide a Statement of Intent (300 words maximum), commenting on the following:

    • Your motivation for taking part in this programme

    • Your enthusiasm for the subject and how will this programme assist you in your current academic programme and help you achieve your career goals?

    • What you can do to help this global collaborative effort

    • Any previous teamwork experience Capabilities in leadership

    • Your interest in and/or experience with community service or participation

  2. Upload a 30 to 60 seconds video to support your ideas mentioned in the statement of intent

  3. Upload your most recent resume/cv

Please ensure that you are submitting your application through the AKU internet.

Application Deadline: March 31​​, 2023. 

Selected students will be notified by April 6.​