Director, Climate Change Studies Program, University of Montana

Nicky Phear was instrumental in developing the University of Montana’s (UM’s) Climate Change Studies as a minor concentration program. The minor—which focuses on science, society, and solutions—was the first undergraduate degree program of its kind in the nation. Phear now oversees the program and leads other programming that inspires student engagement, critical thinking, and creative problem solving. She created an internship program that empowers students to work on clean energy solutions and leads an Eco-Rep program, which trains students to serve as sustainability advocates and educators within the residence halls. She developed the innovative Cycle the Rockies course, which teaches students about energy and climate change as they bicycle across Montana. She also developed a similar course in Bhutan: the Bhutan Ride for Climate, a cross-cultural bike tour across Bhutan focused on energy and climate. In addition, Phear leads a study abroad course in Vietnam about climate change effects and adaptation in the Mekong Delta. She has advised and mentored nearly 150 students through UM’s Climate Change Studies program, and her support and encouragement have assisted students in earning many prestigious national awards. Phear is a founding member of Climate Smart Missoula, has led numerous campus and community climate discussions, is a member of UM’s inaugural Women’s Leadership Initiative, and has served as co-principal investigator on several federal grants. Phear has a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana, and a PhD in Sustainability Education from Prescott College.