Friday, April 22, 2016

Bridging Social Justice and Sustainability with Student Projects

By Christine Ongjoco, Everett Program student and Graphic Artist for the Sustainability Office

Sustainability means leaving the world, planet and people, in the same or better way than when we found it. To me, this means recognizing that sustainability also means social justice.  Without a more inclusive world for all people, we cannot progress together to create a healthier planet for us all.

The Everett Program is an intensive sociology program on campus that creates a new generation of “info-savvy” advocates using information technology to overcome informational exclusion–based barriers to civic participation and social justice. The learning goes both ways: While advancing the larger public good, Everett students accumulate valuable technical knowledge, while sharpening their leadership and project management skills.

The heart and soul of the Everett Program are student projects. College students have a fire inside and want to change the world, but too often are not given a chance to tackle the issues about which they so deeply care. We take student passion and help temper it with social enterprise and startup practices so that they can design a polished, doable project that will tackle their issue from their own unique angle. Everett projects take students across the globe, around the country, and out in the streets of our own county.

Here are some projects that have successfully bridged social justice and sustainability:

Building Technological Capacity of Youth Leaders in a Rural Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Initiative 

The Community-Based Monitoring and Evaluation project seeks to combat rural youth out-migration through the empowerment of eight youth leaders in eight different communities of San Ramón. Each year, project leaders are responsible for conducting field interviews to monitor the progress of their efforts. The results which are synthesized by CAN are then shared with the community members where project strategies and next steps are discussed by all project leaders and beneficiary families. With this project, youth leaders will be able to continue these efforts even when funding has ended.

Advancing Sustainable Communities

Advancing Sustainable Communities via Ancient Japanese Farming Practices began as a project to assess the success of Japanese sustainable farming in the context of rapid industrialization. The aim was to understand what factors, especially the use of information and communication technologies (ICT), had allowed these small farms to prosper, despite the encroachment of cities and spread of industrial agriculture, with the aim of being able to apply these techniques to other locations, especially rapidly developing nations ... Neil found that farms effectively employing ICT serve as a lesson to their peers in Japan and throughout the world, and all of the locations visited would benefit from expanded use of these technologies, such as an inventory management system and greater web presence.

Thirsty Trees Video Project

Thirsty Trees: And the Search for Better Alternatives” is an investigation into the different problems certain trees–especially eucalyptus- are creating in the arid regions of Kenya and Africa due to the fact that they consume huge amounts of water. Local alternatives to eucalyptus are discussed, including indigenous trees which have local spiritual and medicinal properties. The video incorporates both scientific and colloquial observations of the effects of eucalyptus and economic reasons behind its proliferation in Africa.

To find out more about the Everett Program, come to our event, May 18 at Social Science 2 047, to chat with students and fellows who are in the program!

You can also visit for more information.

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