The Western Front
May 30th, 2018
At the end of spring quarter, the student-designed curriculum for an environmental justice minor will be submitted to Western faculty.
The new minor will explore issues of diversity and social injustice in environmental education.
The effort to launch this minor began in 2015, led by a group of passionate students, environmental studies assistant professor Kate Darby said. They put together an intensive proposal, drawn from surveys and studies from around campus.
When it came time to submit, the students involved graduated, Darby said. The papers were lost, but their efforts weren’t.
When junior Samara Almonte came to Western, she thought it would be more radically involved in social justice, she said. Huxley, the first environmental college in the nation, was formed in the 1960s during a wave of social movements. In her classes, on the other hand, she found a lot of repetitive information focusing only on the Pacific Northwest, she said.
“According to what Western, what Huxley and what just, in general, U.S. culture labels an environmentalist, I can’t name myself that because I am not those things,” Almonte said. “But according to what people of color in my community have been saying what environmentalism is and what sustainability is, then I can define it myself. I just don’t think Huxley is leaving room for all of those different definitions.”