Just Transition: An opportunity to transform UW
October 29, 10:30 a.m.
How can the framework of a Just Transition* be applied to UW?
To address climate change, societies will need to transition away from extractive and polluting economies to build more resilient and inclusive communities. But how can this just transition be implemented at the University of Washington through the new Sustainability Plan?
This virtual event features speakers and panelists from across the University of Washington, who will reflect on existing efforts and opportunities. After a presentation and a panel discussion, UW students, postdocs, staff, and faculty will have the opportunity to engage through breakout rooms to reflect on how to turn these ideas into actions.
*Just Transition is a placed-based vision and a community-based process that emerges from dialogue to address climate change and social injustices. It is rooted in a green and inclusive economy that fosters new opportunities, especially for those being disproportionately impacted by structural inequities and climate change, while transforming power structures.
This event is part of a series organized by UW Sustainability and the UW College of the Environment's Diversity, Equity & Inclusion office. We have been working together to explore the intersections between sustainability and equity, and to encourage collaboration between the groups working on these issues across the UW.
The first event was held on July 30, 2020. The Summit "At the Intersection of Social and Environmental Justice" featured space for small-group discussion around sustainability and racial justice. See a recap of some of the discussion below.
At the Intersection of Social and Environmental Justice - Highlights
Co-hosted by College of the Environment’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office and UW Sustainability
Topic 1: Sustainability
I. What does sustainability mean to you from the lens of social justice?
- The intersection between both on 3 Es: Environment, Economy, Equity
- Sustainability inherently cannot be divided from social justice lens because it must be contextualized
- Our lived experiences inform our actions and how we approach sustainability
II. What is your idea for how we can take action at the UW?
- Make sure that everyone can participate in this kind of events. For example, people without a computer or access to stable internet might not be able to participate in the conversation
- More focus on what sustainability is and means. Many people don’t see/understand how environmental sustainability intersects with society and economy. Sustainability CREDIT is one idea = class for credit (like diversity credit).
- We need to be thinking of staff and faculty in addition to students. The issue of incentives and lack of understanding of intersections is a barrier.
- Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, taking deliberate, intentional action that doesn’t end at conversation
- More cross discipline collaborations, creating those bridges to discuss and create change
- Connect with local groups who focus on environmental justice
Topic 2: Racial Justice
III. What does Racial Justice mean to you from the lens of social justice?
- Recognizing expertise in other cultures - not just white.
- Bring stories of BIPOC individuals forward
- Hard to separate social justice and racial justice
IV. What is your idea for how we can take action at the UW?
- UW needs to look inward at how they contribute to injustice or inequality through stereotypes or economic injustices
- Trying to find speakers of diverse backgrounds to increase awareness is important but we should avoid tokenization
- Recruitment is a first step, but not sufficient
- Need opportunities for meaningful connection/engagement
- Poll incoming students to determine needs. Need to provide and encourage use of available resources at UW without any stigma.
- Reach out to Seattle community (Black Lives Matter, Got Green, etc) and learn from those already doing work in the community