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Priestley Centre appoints Deputy Directors

Centre news

Two new Deputy Directors have been appointed to drive forward the newly named Priestley Centre for Climate Futures. 

Professor Suraje Dessai and Dr Harriet Thew will join the leadership team in early 2024.  

The Priestley Centre has recently announced an expanded remit, taking its activities beyond research, to include innovation, knowledge exchange and collaboration on postgraduate education. 

An ambitious new strategy will harness University of Leeds climate expertise to shape a better future for our communities, our region and the world.  

The two new roles will oversee the delivery of two central pillars of this strategy: policy and education. 

Important appointments

Professor Suraje Dessai has been appointed as Deputy Director of Policy and Engagement, and will be in post from January 2024. Dr Harriet Thew will take up the role of Deputy Director of Education and Engagement, starting in March 2024.  

Director of the Priestley Centre, Professor Piers Forster, said: “Harriet and Suraje are great appointments for the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures.  

“They take up important positions in the centre leading on our visions for education and policy respectively and bring a wealth of experience that will help cement our capability and reputation for research-led climate action. 

“I’m excited to have them get started and to work with the University community to develop impactful education and policy activities and initiatives for the Priestley Centre.”   

Climate policy

Professor Suraje Dessai is a Chair in Climate Change Adaptation in the School of Earth and Environment. He holds several high-level policy advisory positions at both national and international levels.  

Suraje said: “I’m very excited about joining the Priestley team in 2024.  

“Climate policy is at a crossroads where significant acceleration and commitment is needed from policymakers at local, national, and international levels.  

“In my new role, I’m looking forward to working with Leeds colleagues to expand and amplify our influence and ability to drive climate policy and action across scales.” 

Climate education

Dr Harriet Thew is a Lecturer in Climate Change and has 15 years of experience in designing and delivering climate change education initiatives within the University of Leeds and beyond. She co-leads the new transdisciplinary Masters programme in Climate Futures: Science, Society and Politics. 

Harriet said: “I am delighted to be joining the leadership team of the Priestley Centre for Climate Futures and to have the opportunity to enhance and mainstream climate change education: an issue which has been close to my heart for many years. 

“I recognise that there are many synergies between climate change education and other key university strategies, such as the Sustainable Curriculum and Decolonisation.  

“I look forward to developing partnerships with staff and students from all faculties to maximise our impact within and beyond the University.” 

Priestley Centre leadership

The two new Deputy Directors will join the Director, Professor Piers Forster, and the Head of the Priestley Centre, Dr Shona Smith, as part of the Priestley Centre leadership team.  

Recruitment of a Deputy Director for Innovation will begin in 2024.  

Find out more about the new direction of the Priestley Centre in this blog post.