Our partner organization, Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE), states in its mission that it “harnesses the power of racial and ethnic diversity to transform the US environmental movement by developing leaders, catalyzing change within institutions, and building alliances”. When thinking of possible projects I wanted to focus on the development of leaders as well as building alliances specifically within the Lewis and Clark community. My idea is to collaborate with CDE to build a presence on campus in which students of color have the opportunity to be more conveniently involved with the organization as well as building greater advocacy for environmental justice and empowerment. I believe that this project aligns with the vision of CDE as well as the mission of Lewis and Clark college in a symbiotic way.
The goal of this project is to identify our organizations strong suits and utilize them in a way that CDE is currently not. This makes the “what” of our project not a matter of environmental issues but more a focus on effective engagement with demographics not yet reached by CDE. Lewis and Clark prides itself for being a “green” campus with its multiple acclaimed sustainable buildings. However, there is little initiative by the school to integrate sustainability into action beyond architecture and purchased offsets. There is a deficit of active student participation in creating positive sustainable change on campus which I believe could be benefitted by CDE leader training. I propose we create a space on campus for CDE to operate trainings and forums for students who would like to create change on campus and beyond their time at Lewis and Clark. An additional aspect to this project is addressing the lack of diversity on campus and using the privilege of having a majority White student population to create advocates for environmental justice.
Our key actors in this project will be CDE members as well as students of Lewis and Clark who are interested. I envision CDE and the LC community learning from and building on each other through a symbiotic partnership. The members of CDE that will be a part of this partnership would provide insights and mediation that would keep spaces professional and productive. Student perspective provides an insight into current issues and contemporary perspectives that can keep CDE more in touch. Most likely the student demographic that will engage with this project are ENVS students who have direct interests in this field, however, it would be ideal for this space to be open to all majors given that diversity and advocacy is relevant in any field.
This project would play on CDE’s strengths which is interpersonal diversity leader training, similar to their E42 program. Their program is a multi-month intensive training program that educates individuals towards becoming agents of diversity change. On campus this type of influence and training would benefit the campus community’s understanding of the importance of professional diversity as well as the importance of using white privilege towards advocacy. However, given that this is not a class it is important to respect the time of CDE as well as students. While we cannot engage in as intensive of a program as E42, there is possibility for regular meetings either weekly or biweekly with members of CDE as well as student initiatives that work individually from CDE moderation. The “how” of this project is very loose given that I feel it is important to allow room for students to direct what they want from a program and shape it how the campus needs it most.