For Emma Wilson and Anya Gavrylko, sustainability is about more than just the environment.
As the co-leaders of the Sustainability Curriculum Coalition (SCC) student group, the duo shares a passion to advance and redefine sustainability at the UW.
“There is the three pillars approach that is environment, social, economic, which is sort of like level one sustainability,” Anya said. “It's understanding how one action impacts everything throughout those other actions and having everyone understand that they have a role to play.”
To take it to the next level, Emma hopes to incorporate more socioeconomical perspectives into sustainability education and analyze their relationships.
“Sustainability actions that are just about the environment fall short of being actually sustainable because everything is connected to another thing,” Emma said. “We want to acknowledge history and systems at play in the world. I want to take an anti-capitalist approach to sustainability and tie in a scientific and social movement.”
The work Anya and Emma have done in creating the Sustainabiltiy Curriculum Coalition and engaging students earned them a 2020 Husky Green Award. The annual Husky Green Awards recognize individuals and groups across the University of Washington who show leadership, dedication and inititiave in sustainabliity.
Just a year ago, the SCC operated with a different goal in mind: Getting UW to implement a required sustainability course credit for all students. Back then, the group’s name stood for the Sustainability Credit Coalition.
They were hoping for a sustainability graduation requirement, which could be completed through taking a related course, doing service learning, or conducting research. It went as far as passing in an ASUW bill in Spring 2019.
However, SCC leadership decided to change courses after learning the foundation was not in place at UW for supporting an additional required credit. They instead chose to adopt a more inclusive mission and work more collaboratively with the student body.
“We probably need to focus on things that we, as students, have the capacity to do,” Anya said. “Some professors were saying maybe we should focus on trying to integrate more sustainability across the curriculum, as opposed to just this one requirement because that narrows our focus.”
Some recent work of the SCC includes organizing the Campus Sustainability Forum in January, where students contributed ideas for the Sustainability Action Plan. Through events like these, Anya and Emma hope to encourage more student voices in the formation of guiding documents that will ensure a greener future for the UW.
“Climate change is real, and it is affecting various people all over the world. We’re a micromovement to a macro thing that is happening in the world,” Emma said. “We’re trying to be part of the movement to actually change how this institution operates.”
During the current Stay at Home order, the SCC suggests community members get involved by focusing on buying and eating local food that is equitable and sustainable. Students can learn more about the SCC or join the group by emailing them, and are also encouraged to work with EcoReps, another environmental activism RSO.