Just Transition: An opportunity to transform UW - October 29, 10:30 a.m.

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?

A panel discussion will be followed by breakout discussions to reflect on how to turn ideas into actions.


Terrell Engmann, co-founder, Basilica Bio
Public Health is one of Terrell Engmann’s foremost passions. As a recent Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology Graduate from the University of Washington, he embarked on a five month international journey spanning eight countries via the Bonderman Fellowship. Terrell spent his time as a Bonderman Fellow gaining perspective in regard to health equity and biological interventions abroad, visiting hospitals, labs, and reproductive health facilities along the way. With this experience in mind, Terrell is determined to see unprecedented change in his community by dismantling practices that disparately affect health outcomes. He co-founded Basilica Bio in early May 2020 in an effort to help empower the people most affected by pollution and food insecurity among other environmental factors. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Biomolecular Sciences and is involved in chronic disease research. Community health, environmental justice, and educational outreach are all areas he hopes to leverage for the benefit of all.

Chesca Ward, UW Graduate School
Chesca Ward has been with the UW since 2006.  She is currently the HR director for the UW Graduate School.  Prior to joining the Graduate School she served as the manager, People and Organizational Change for the HR/Payroll Modernization Program; director, Organizational Development/Human Resources, UW School of Nursing; director, UW Business Diversity Program; and diversity specialist in the UW Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. Chesca is also an adjunct faculty member of Seattle Pacific University’s Industrial & Organizational Psychology graduate program, where she teaches Diversity & Globalization. She has a BA in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in Industrial & Organizational Psychology at Seattle Pacific University. 

Judy Twedt, UW PhD student, Climate Data Sonification
Judy Twedt weaves together climate science and digital sound arts to create data-driven soundtracks that bring greater expression and immediacy to climate communication. A native of Tacoma and fifth-generation Washingtonian, she has a master’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences where she used state of the art global climate models to understand Antarctic sea ice variability. Her pieces blend data sonifications with natural sound recordings to promote greater awareness of our rapidly changing planet. Her research combines work in Atmospheric Sciences and the program on Digital and Experimental Arts to create new sonic forms of climate communication, and to study its impacts on listeners. No stranger to interdisciplinary work, her Bachelors degree from Colorado College was in History and Philosophy, with an emphasis on environmental ethics.

*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.

Past events

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.

Summit flyer

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