Climate Justice and Sustainability Hub Introduced as Part of Northeastern’s Earth Month Festivities
A complete recording of the event can be found HERE
Northeastern’s new Climate Justice and Sustainability Hub was introduced at a panel event on Wednesday, April 20 at the Amphitheater at Egan Research Center. The Hub is the new iteration of the Office of Sustainability, and hired Leah Bamberger as its executive director in February. Bamberger previously served as the director of sustainability for the city of Providence.
The event on Wednesday featured a panel including Karl Reid, Senior Vice Provost and Chief Inclusion Officer at Northeastern, Joan Fitzgerald, Professor of Urban and Public Policy at Northeastern, and Adele Andrews, a coordinator for Northeastern’s hub of the Sunrise Movement. Atyia Martin, CEO and Founder of All Aces Inc., moderated the event.
The Hub was also excited to hear from local climate and environmental justice leaders including Melanie Gárate, Climate Resiliency Manager at the Mystic River Watershed Association, and David Noiles, Director of the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project at Alternatives for Community and Environment. Unfortunately, they were sick and could not attend. Despite the lack of these community voices at the event, the Hub emphasizes the importance of listening to the broader community.
“Unfortunately, we will not have the perspective of our neighboring communities with us this evening, but it is a very important part of this work and we are going to continue to make sure to include their perspectives as we move forward,” Bamberger said.
Each panelist brought a different perspective to the conversation. Reid began with a quote from Susan Hockfield, the former president of MIT and his mentor. “She said of diversity at MIT and probably a lot of other places including here at Northeasatern, ‘there are a lot of flowers but there’s no garden.’ There are a lot of efforts, a lot of spinning the wheels, a lot of activities, but we can’t confuse activities with impact.”
It was one of many points made by Reid that highlighted the connection between diversity and inclusion, and sustainability and the environment.
One of the Hub’s goals is to make Northeastern’s climate justice planning process a collaborative one. It aims to include the perspectives of students, faculty, staff, members of neighboring communities, and outside experts. This sentiment was also reflected by the panelists.
“We’re not the experts, the community is the expert,” Reid said, “and I think if we go into the relationship in that way, it changes the whole dynamic.”
Martin added, “oftentimes I refer to that as the context experts versus the content technical experts, and you need both in order to really deal with these issues.”
Andrews, a fourth-year political science and environmental studies major, spoke passionately about how students can make an impact. “There are definitely a lot of people and organizations within Northeastern doing really great work, but I do think students have a very unique position that allows us to do certain things,” she said. “In many ways, it allows us to act and speak more radically and less censored because we’re not employed by the university.”
Andrews received applause from the audience, which included over 70 students, faculty, and community members. Two hundred more watched online.
Ted Landsmark, a distinguished professor of public policy and urban affairs, made an appearance at the end, urging people to think about changes they can make in their own lives and in their own communities.
“All of us need to think about what it takes to change the view of the institutions that we’ve worked with and also to bring about a certain amount of cultural change within ourselves,” Landsmark said. “I would ask us to leave today’s conversation and the unveiling, the launch of the hub, to think about what we do personally as well as to think about what it is we plan to do together, collaboratively, to bring about certain types of change.”
Karyn Knight Detering, a graphic facilitator and visual creative, captured important points from all the speakers with visual notes.
Written by Adam Doucette – 4/26/2022