MSA wrote a letter to Council on Liberal Education in order to change the theme of environment requirement to environmental justice
In November, the Environmental Accountability Committee of Minnesota Student Association wrote and mailed a letter to Council on Liberal Education to request that the environmental liberal education requirement be changed to the environmental justice obligation.
This letter was written by Madeline Miller, Sterling Homard, Madeline Brandt, and other members of the Environmental Accountability Committee.
Homard stated that they hoped to change the environment theme to environmental injustice and also undergo a name change as well as change the classes that are eligible for the theme to include more environmental justice elements.
2019 saw the passage of a MSA resolution that sought to expand ideas about environmental justice in the University curriculum. Brandt spoke to the Minnesota Daily in an interview, stating that after passing MSA, there was no further action taken to make environmental justice a requirement.
This resolution was later mentioned by the Council in a subsequent letter. The letter stated that the University of Minnesota was being outdone by five institutions in the BIG10 conference and many others across the country for its lack of commitment to environmental justice.
Although many courses are already eligible for this new theme there would be some modifications required by professors. These courses would need to meet specific requirements in order to fulfill the environmental justice theme.
According to the letter certain requirements are required for a course that meets the environment justice theme. They must raise environmental issues of great significance and explain the scientific principles behind them.
Brandt assured them that this change would not increase their course load. Students will only see some changes in the structure of their courses as professors will have to adapt to the new criteria.
There are many student organizations who support this letter, including the United Nations Student Association and the College of Liberal Arts Student Board. Students For Climate Justice is another.
Associate Professor Kathryn Pearson replied to an email from the Minnesota Daily requesting information about how the Council of Liberal Education dealt with the possible change in the environment for liberal education.
Pearson stated that CLE has not been part of these conversations and that the Provost plans soon to redesign Liberal Education requirements. It could be considered in this redesign process.
According to the MSA fall survey, 70% of students indicated that they would be interested taking an environmental justice course.
It will be a great help. [students]Brandt said that it gives them a better understanding of the world they will be entering after college.
The letter’s main purpose, according to the authors is to encourage students learn more about the world and how it impacts them every day. The environmental justice liberal education requirement is designed to help students become diverse leaders in society upon graduation.
NASA has reported that temperatures will rise between 2.5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit over next century. This can lead to droughts and the death of crops, as well as other serious problems for our planet.
Homard stated that it’s absurd to believe that the future of our society doesn’t depend on our environment. It will prepare students for the next step, and prepare them to fight for climate justice.
The Environmental Accountability Committee members agreed that they want to see the University and its students get excited about the environmental justice movement.
Miller said that Miller thinks it’s a great opportunity to allow the University to make a statement towards other universities and be prepared for the future.
It would become effective next fall if Council of Liberal Education agrees with the requirement of changing the environment to be a part of liberal education.