Education for environmental leadership and stewardship
I recently finished Kim Stanley Robinson’s book, Ministry for the Future. It is a thought provoking read, projecting a not-too-distant future of climate disruption and climate crisis. Yet, it also offers up a horizon of cautious and hope-filled possibilities. Many of these possibilities are rooted in real-world efforts nourished by dreamers, activists, and a multitude of folks seeking robust alternatives to the dominant systems that have only exacerbated the chaos and cruelty of everyday life. In almost all cases, the inspirations put forward by Robinson are an amalgam birthed of social struggle, creative vision, the work of praxis, and a policy infrastructure.
So, as I write this today, I view the official talks at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow, Scotland, as secondary to the work happening in less formal, but no less important venues: on streets the world over where young people lead marches, chants, and take direct action; in our gardens, forests, and on small plot farms where land is tended without poison; and in the passionate, focused, and strategic conversations taking place among climate justice activists. Thanks largely to mobilization by young people, any UN-negotiated “climate deal” must now center justice, ecology, and equity, rather than only some abstract notion of “parts per million” of carbon in the atmosphere. The people who have been most impacted by a changing climate, in other words the folks with the most to lose, have forced their way to the center and they are not going to go anywhere. As their voices and movements grow, they spark and expand a range of ideas and expectations— about not only what is possible but what is acceptable.
We dedicate this issue to all those who continue to strive for a more healthy, just, and ecologically resilient planet. IAS and UW Bothell are fortunate to have the reach and resources to help cultivate and sustain better futures. We have a part to play in redefining what is both possible and acceptable in relation to environmental equity and justice. This newsletter highlights the work of University of Washington Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN) and the IAS Minor in Restoration Ecology. IAS faculty member Warren Gold—who just retired—spent his career cultivating its many connected, cross-disciplinary, and community-engaged learning opportunities, and he has helped seed a generation of scholars and practitioners dedicated to environmental well-being. In this issue you will learn about:
- Faculty Feature: the origins of the UW Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN) in Warren Gold’s interdisciplinary teaching and research collaborations, and the legacy of his work throughout the region.
- Student Feature: Hailey Barrett’s UW-REN capstone lets her integrate interests in environmental health and mental health, while gaining valuable project management skills.
- Alumni Feature: Sarah Witte partnered with Friends of North Creek Forest for her capstone project nearly ten years ago—and never left, growing her leadership for that organization.
The work of environmental education, vital to our future, is continuing and ongoing. Recent gifts, grants, and partnerships are expanding IAS’s impact, with a focus on environmental equity and justice.
St. Edward State Park Environmental Education and Research Center (EERC). Just 6 miles from UW Bothell campus, the longest natural lakeshore property on Lake Washington, St. Edward State Park contains a rare upland forest ecosystem and a historic Catholic seminary building. Converted to new use through partnerships that include UW Bothell, the seminary’s former gym annex will now be home to the St. Edward State Park Environmental Education and Research Center (EERC). IAS Faculty—Warren Gold, Dave Stokes, Santiago Lopez, and others—have co-led community-based planning processes to develop the center, which will promote research and understanding of Northwest ecosystems and environmental equity, engaging publics that include K-12 students, UW Bothell students, and other communities through hands-on learning.
Scholars for Environmental Equity and Resilience (SEER). With the help of Wells Fargo and others, SEER stipends are supporting students whose communities are historically underrepresented in environmental fields. SEER funding enables students of diverse backgrounds to access experiential learning opportunities like the REN capstone projects and environmental internships. With a focus on diversity and equity, SEER lets students turn their passion for environmental issues into professional leadership for a more just and sustainable future.
As always, you can learn more about what students, alumni, faculty, and staff are doing on the IAS News Blog. To keep up to date on IAS events open to the campus and the public, you can also subscribe to a weekly digest of upcoming events here. If you are an IAS alum, discover ways to connect and get involved by visiting our alumni page online.
Past issues of Intersections are accessible from the right sidebar here.
Feel free to send comments on these stories or ideas for others to IASinfo@uw.edu.
Dean, School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences