The international Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH) Network



Monash University
Organizations/areas of the university involved

Colorado State University, University of Derby, Colorado College, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Michigan Technological University, Vanderbilt University, Monash University, Moravian University, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Connecticut, Boston University, Indiana University (or refer to our website


The Youth Environmental Alliance in Higher Education (YEAH) Network is a collaborative, global, multi-institutional network empowering student-voice in sustainability via digital conferences, virtual classrooms, and student participation at UNFCCC Conferences.

1) In today’s students, we see agents of change for the future. Therefore, the YEAH Network connects institutions of higher education from all over the globe to provide integrated knowledge to students that empowers them to address complex global environmental problems, ranging from pollinator decline and biodiversity loss to climate shifts and ecosystem transformations.


2) Our members are geographically and culturally diverse institutions that share a common desire to prepare, empower and inspire undergraduate and graduate students to effectively analyse global environmental issues and contribute to policy solutions. Together, we recognize that a truly transdisciplinary approach to student training and professional development is necessary and can be accomplished by a multi-institutional approach that is seamlessly incorporated from the student team level through the faculty to transform in the higher educational experience.


3) The YEAH Network develops multi-institutional virtual classrooms at the undergraduate and graduate levels that provide environmental learning through structured and real-life experiences of international negotiations. Our modules are designed to impart knowledge that integrates science and international governance using the frameworks that guide international conversations, such as the Sustainable Development Goals. Students work together in virtual and collaborative classrooms as teams with international and multicultural members whom they would not encounter at their home institutions. Students and seasoned investigators from diverse backgrounds collaborate for a common purpose and agenda giving them a sense of belonging, purposefulness, and continued motivation to achieve global goals. In this manner, students are introduced into the realms of policy and trained to engage actively in international collaborations that are tackling global environmental issues.


4) The YEAH network will be running a pre-COP ‘Road to Glasgow’ youth retreat in November 2021 to prepare student leaders to raise their voices in the climate space at the UNFCCC COP26. 

Results and impact measured or expected

The YEAH Network has successfully run two international online conferences (2020 and 2021), with over 500 attendees from all over the world. Plenary speakers have included members of government, the UNFCCC, and leading conservation researchers. Student feedback has been glowing and proceedings have been published.


Students participating in the YEAH Network classrooms increase their public scientific literacy by sharing their research at the annual United Nations COP meetings (COP24, 25 and 26), at events like press conferences and pavilion events where diplomats are invited to listen, at professional society meetings, such as those of the Ecological Society of America, and also in their local communities.


Student participants of the YEAH Network are trained to apply their learning into multiple career paths, be it scientific research, economics, business, academia, health fields, policy, or other related fields.


The YEAH network will be running a pre-COP ‘Road to Glasgow’ youth retreat in November 2021 to prepare student leaders to raise their voices in the climate space at COP26. 


The YEAH network has been supported by the US National Science Foundation.


Connection with the SDG framework

The YEAH network links higher education to the UNFCCC and various other intergovernmental agencies and helps promote and develop students’ leadership, speakership, intercultural, and diplomacy skills by providing a platform to meaningfully engage in transformational education. YEAH empowers future leaders by providing skills and experience to engage in the science-policy nexus, from the local to intergovernmental level. Participants share knowledge and skills gained with fellow students in their local context. YEAH members span major higher education institutions from around the world, represented by a collaborative education design team, and passionate students from all continents.

Barriers and follow up

An international network, spanning multiple countries, universities, colleges, and disciplinary domains requires a strong collaborative heart. It is hard to harmonize content across different classes and agree on a co-developed and co-taught design. It is difficult to bring students together over multiple time zones. Most of all, it is difficult to create a shared vision. The lead PIs involved collaboratively mapped out the design of modules and the YEAH network at COP24 Madrid, and it has grown from there. The solution to ensuring a true global collaboration has been ensuring all members bring intellectual humility, collaborative team spirit, humor and respect, a passion to effect change at a global and intergovernmental level, and a goal to prepare and empower students to work at the science-policy nexus.

Transferability of the initiative

The YEAH Network welcomes all classes and institutions and digital conferences are available to all students, at undergraduate, Masters or PhD level. The collaborative network model is one that can be applied at many scales. In this case, it has enabled students from all over the world to participate meaningfully in sustainability and the science-policy nexus, no matter their background and context. The collaborative international network creates rich intercultural learning opportunities. For example, through the YEAH modules, students form interdiscplinary, inter-cultural teams to address different SDGs and to design and execute their global solutions-focused projects. This enables truly global thinking and skills development in relation to sustainability.