UTech, Jamaica Launches Graduate Degree in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change

UTech, Jamaica Launches Graduate Degree in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change

New UTech, Master’s to fill  Green Economy Gap:  Hon. Dr. Andrew Wheatley (1st right), Minister of Science, Energy and Technology points to the banner as he officially launches the University of Technology, Jamaica multidisciplinary Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change at the University’s Papine campus on Thursday,  March 2, 2017.  Participating in the launch (from left) are Prof. Thomas Bruckner,  Coordinating Lead Author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Germany , Mr Martin Henry, Project Manager, School of Graduate Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship, who chaired the launch ceremony, Mrs. Michael Dumke, Chargé d’Affaires, German Embassy, Dr. Garfield Young, Dean, Faculty of The Built Environment, Prof. Stephen Vasciannie, CD, President, Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, AVP, Sustainable Energy, UTech, Jamaica, Dr. Devon Gardener, Programme Manager for Energy, CARICOM Secretariat and Ms. Anja Schwerin, Advisor on Renewable Energies and Capacity Building, German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in the Dominican Republic. 

The University of Technology, Jamaica through its Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Innovation Institute (CSEII) and the Faculty of The Built Environment (FOBE) on Thursday, March 2, 2017 launched the multidisciplinary Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change.

 The degree was developed in collaboration with technical and financial assistance from partner, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) through the CARICOM Renewable Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA) and is the first programme of its kind to be offered in the Caribbean region. The establishment of the programme is in response to the need for tertiary level training of specialists in the areas of sustainable energy and climate change and has a strong focus on Sustainable Energy, Entrepreneurship and Green Business Development – areas critical to Jamaica’s future development within the global economy and for the creation of new jobs and innovations in keeping with the Green Growth strategy of the Government. 

First of its Kind in Jamaica and the Caribbean Region

Prof. Stephen Vasciannie, CD, President, UTech, Jamaica in his welcome noted that “there is no existing interdisciplinary training programme in the region adequately connecting energy systems, climate change, urban and regional planning, building design, natural resources management, human health or policy and the potential green business and entrepreneurial opportunities they offer.”  The President said that “UTech, Jamaica is pleased to be playing our part in contributing to national and regional development in this regard,” adding that  “we share unequivocally in the national agenda being led by the Government to take responsible action to reduce our carbon footprint associated with the predominant use of fossil fuel.”

Underscoring that we cannot afford the luxury of being “climate change sceptics,” Prof. Vasciannie pointed out that “with energy contributing 80% of all CO2 emissions… the twinning of Sustainable Energy and Climate Change in this Master’s programme, reinforces the fact that energy and climate change are two sides of the same coin.”

Course Overview

Dr. Ruth Potopsingh, Associate Vice President, Sustainable Energy and Head of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Innovation Institute (CSEII) in providing an overview of the Master’s programme said that the multidisciplinary degree “has taken an innovation driven, problem solving approach to prepare students who are responsive to the global drives for green business development linked to sustainable energy and climate change solutions.”  She noted that the curriculum will integrate multiple disciplines such as engineering, natural sciences, climate change, health and social sciences, law, economics, urban planning and business.  The modules are developed to advance the process of low carbon economic growth and development and include such areas as “Green Business and Green Growth,” Energy Management in Buildings and Industry,” “Energy and Environment Data Management” and “Green Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” among others.

The 20-month course of study which includes 160 hours of internship and an innovation focused research project is set to commence on May 1, 2017 with a target of 25 students.  Entry requirement is a BSc/BA with at least a 2.7 GPA in the related disciplines of engineering, natural sciences or social sciences.  Candidates with five years management level experience in a relevant field may also apply.  Application forms are now available on the University’s website at www.utechjamaica.edu.jm/admissions/enrolment/graduate-students

Dr. Potopsingh assured the audience of academics, energy professionals, members of government and students, that “graduates of the Master of Science in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change will develop a strong ethical and philosophical perspective on good environmental stewardship, clean energy and the use of resources in a sustainable manner for the welfare of humanity and its support systems.”

In welcoming the new Master of Science in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Garfield Young, Dean, Faculty of The Built Environment told the gathering that students will benefit from the wide range of expertise resident in the faculty, representing the core elements of the new Master’s programme.  The Faculty also offers graduate programmes in Architectural Studies and the Built Environment.


Chargé d’Affaires, German Embassy, Mr Michael Dumke in his remarks, stated that Germany shares in Jamaica’s ambitious goals in protecting climate and the environment, pointing out that “Germany’s renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful in the world with net-generation from renewable energy sources sector standing at 34%.”  Lamenting that the Caribbean region is still heavily dependent on fossil fuel imports which negatively affects economic balance and jeopardizes competitiveness, Mr Dumke pledged his country’s continued support to enhance renewable energy efforts and energy efficiency in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Dr Devon Gardener, Programme Manager, Energy, CARICOM, highlighted areas in which regional cooperation in energy can be boosted among CARICOM member states.  Chief among them, he noted, was the periodic updating of the regional energy policy and a sustainable energy strategy that is reflective of both the diversity and commonalities among member states.  Dr. Gardener also noted that the Caribbean Energy Programme is pursuing an enhanced trade mechanism to support regional energy cooperation under the CSME.  He congratulated UTech, Jamaica and all partners on the development of the Master of Science in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change which he noted augurs well for generating the right kinds of knowledge, skill and thinking necessary to drive the development of energy systems that can provide predictability in supply and prices to ensure that those that are invested in the energy infrastructure are able to benefit from their investments and whereby citizens can ultimately benefit.

“Development agenda has to be tailored with sustainability…” Minister Wheatley

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr. the Hon. Andrew Wheatley, MP who  declared the Master’s programme officially launched, said the country “welcomes the prospect of a larger home-based pool of sustainable energy and green economy academics, entrepreneurs and other professionals,” adding that  “our development agenda has to be tailored with sustainability as a key objective.” 

Emphasizing that this will require “action and vision,” Minister Wheatley congratulated UTech, Ja for its foresight in pioneering a “multidisciplinary Master’s programme which will graduate critical thinkers and innovators in the Sustainable Energy and Green Economy fields.”  The Minister added that it was encouraging that UTech, Jamaica is aligning its curriculum with industry and national needs, noting that “the country and government will be calling on your graduates to further assist in achieving the Vision 2030 target of renewables contributing 30% of Jamaica’s electricity.”

The commendation to UTech, Jamaica was further echoed by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, CD whose remarks were delivered by Mr Garfield Higgins, Special Advisor and member of UTech, Jamaica’s Council.  “I am glad that UTech is taking the lead in this very important area of sustainable energy and climate change,” he said, adding that Jamaica needs to find ways to harness and use all forms of renewable and clean energy in support of economic growth, development and prosperity.”

Keynote Address

The keynote address was delivered by Prof. Thomas Bruckner, Head of Division, Sustainable Management and Infrastructure Economics, Fraunhofer Centre for Internal Management and Knowledge Economy IMW and Coordinating Lead Author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Germany which has as its mandate to provide regular assessments of the science of climate change, its potential impacts and options to mitigate.

Speaking on the topic Decarbonizing the world economy: Technical Options and Policy Instruments, Prof. Bruckner looked at opportunities and challenges associated with mitigating climate change through limiting greenhouse gas emissions at levels consistent with the goal of staying below 2 O C temperature change.  Pointing to obvious signs “for concern” such as extreme weather events and large scale singular weather events, Prof. Bruckner cautioned that without mitigation, global mean surface temperature might increase by 4 O to 5 O over the 21st century.  He warned that countries across the globe must “act fast to go to net zero emission rates in the long term by about the year 2050.” 

Presenting options for mitigation, Prof. Bruckner advised that this will require changes throughout individual country economies in such areas as energy demand reduction, energy efficiency improvements in industry practice, as well as in buildings design and maintenance and in the transportation sector, supported by regulatory approaches, information and technology policies and voluntary actions.

He congratulated UTech, Jamaica for taking steps through knowledge and education to contribute to requirements for the fundamental transformation of the global energy supply system for the benefit of humanity.

Presentation to Partners: Prof. Colin Gyles (left) Deputy President makes presentations in appreciation to partners, at top, German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) represented by Ms. Anja Schwerin, Advisor on Renewable Energies and Capacity Building and to the CARICOM Energy Desk represented by Dr. Devon Gardener, Programme Manager for Energy, CARICOM Secretariat.  Prof. Gyles expressed appreciation to GIZ for its technical and financial support over the past three years and for the engagement of outstanding consultants, Prof. Christoph Menke, consultants from Fraunhofer Institute, Conoscope and MicroEnergy, for curriculum development, provision of software and undertaking capacity building exercises with UTech, Ja. staff.  Prof. Gyles also thanked GIZ Regional Director, Mrs Marina Meus and staff of the GIZ office in the Dominican Republic.  He thanked the CARICOM Energy Desk for its support over the past six years, specially recognising the assistance of Mr Joseph Williams, former head of the Energy Unit and the CARICOM REETA programme financed by GIZ.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 970-5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm