Educate, Motivate, Innovate: The Next Generation of Climate-Justice Leaders

Educate, Motivate, Innovate: The Next Generation of Climate-Justice Leaders

September 9, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


The Educate, Motivate, and Innovate Initiative, affectionately known as EMI was created to focus on the next generation of climate justice change agents in collaboration with students from minority serving institutions. It’s to let them know that the federal family does care, and wants to invest in that. Harness that, and see if there’s a way to bring these like-minded students working on these critical issues. NARRATOR: THE EMI INITIATIVE FOCUSES ON BRINGING ATTENTION TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE COMMUNITIES BY TAPPING INTO THE CREATIVE THINKING OF STUDENTS INVOLVED IN PROJECTS NEAR THEIR CAMPUSES. AT THE FIRST NATIONAL WORKSHOP, STUDENTS JOINED ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PRACTITIONERS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY TO DISCUSS THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE, HUMAN HEALTH, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE I wanted to be a part of the change, to contribute to reducing health risks, to helping the people who can’t fend for themselves. I started getting more ideas on how to improve human health in underserved communities to to change environments that are becoming more urbanized. The Educate, Motivate, and Innovate subcommittee is part of the federal inter-agency working group, and it is a mix of representatives from various federal agencies. They asked students to submit applications describing projects that they were doing in their communities around climate justice. And it was projects that could be replicated, that were innovative, that could be shared and transferred across the country with other students. NARRATOR: THREE STUDENTS WERE SELECTED AND ASKED TO SHARE THE PROJECTS THEY HAD BEEN DEVELOPING IN THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITIES. THROUGH THE TOXIC RELEASE INVENTORY CHALLENGE, ONE STUDENT INVESTIGATED AIR QUALITY. In Davidson County, Tennessee, we have the highest rates of pediatric asthma in Tennessee. A lot of the chemicals that were found were basically like, unidentifiable by like the TRI website. I had to go onto a chemistry database and essentially look at what chemists who wear lab coats and goggles, and what they said about these chemicals that they had dealt with simply in their labs. simply in their labs. And a lot of them said that they had dealt with dizziness, or suffocation, or skin irritation, and these are from people who deal with these chemicals under a controlled environment. So, that made me consider, “Wow, what are these people in the low income housing facilities, what are they dealing with because they inhale this every day? NARRATOR: THE EMI INITIATIVE HOPES TO SPARK MORE INVOLVEMENT WITH STUDENTS INTERESTED IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN ADDRESSING CLIMATE JUSTICE ISSUES. There are three pillars for the Educate, Motivate, and Innovate Initiative. And course that first one is Educate. And that’s that two-way learning experience, the access to information, and sharing that knowledge. The second big component is the motivating factor. That’s nurturing the growth, igniting that interest among those students. And the third piece is Innovate, and that’s embracing the opportunity for creative thought. This is bigger than just having this in my resume. This is making a change, doing something positive with my life. So, I wanted to become a part of this so I can learn and pretty much expand on my research and then eventually teach other kids. It’s an opportunity to not only meet people who are doing work like you, but people who have done it for years. And if we can present that two lowly undergraduate students are able to do some work work with our professor, I feel like community members can do the same.