Environmental Education for Students of Color
Project Leads: Kelly Chang, Dante Gonzales, and Sarah Naameh
Sponsor: Students of Color Environmental Collective (SCEC)
TGIF Grant: $28,647
Project Theme: Environmental Justice
Project Description: This grant application primarily aims for a renewal of this grant to launch SCECon 2020. The secondary aspect of this application is a proposal to fund an outdoor retreat for students of color. The first objective is necessary to diversifying environmental education that students of color receive on this campus at a level that is immediately feasible, inspiring, and desperately needed. After Professor Carolyn Finney was denied tenure, the need for intersectional dialogue and action could not be more urgent on this campus. This project will be aiming to foster an intersectional environmental movement by hosting a conference that inspires and empowers underrepresented folx in the environmental movement. The conference will be made up of keynotes, panels, and workshops from environmentalists of color that will be centered around shifting the environmental movement to prioritizing those most marginalized by environmental degradation. Creating a POC space for environmental education reshapes the current dominant environmental narrative. Having access to affordable, accessible outdoor space is especially important when considering that an estimated 78% of visitors to national parks are white, which is why our second objective of this project aims to reclaiming outdoor space for POC with a yearly retreat in the Fall semester outside the urban environment. Retreats would be part of an outdoor education plan focused on organization and movement building, leadership workshops, reflection activities, guided hikes, environmental consciousness, and personal and community development. This retreat will not only make the outdoors more accessible, it will also strengthen SCEC as an organization and ensure internal community building, retention of community history, and a passing of environmental and institutional knowledge that will withstand yearly member turnovers. In multiple communities of color, there is a notion that the outdoors do not belong to us for multiple reasons. These reasons span unequal access to green spaces and resource constraints, but also cultural barriers. This project will increase minority access to the outdoors by using our available resources to expose those who seldom or have never engaged in the outdoors to reclaim space and narratives in the outdoors. Being in the outdoors has countless, valuable benefits and outdoor retreats help to increase access and the understanding of nature as space for all people, not just the white and affluent.