By Katherine Chen
These two questions guide Heltzel’s teaching at Chabot College, where he serves as an adjunct English professor and partner in SEI’s Energize Colleges program. Heltzel also teaches English at College of San Mateo and Berkeley City College, and co-leads the climate education nonprofit Teach Earth Action (TEA)
Despite taking environmental science classes in school, Heltzel recalls not being taught about “the big picture of climate change” until he took an astronomy and poetry class - coincidentally, at Chabot College. After reading The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells and the 2018 IPCC report, Heltzel remembers the fear and panic of recognizing “the totality of climate change” for the first time. In response, he made two decisions: first, to teach about climate change in his classes; and second, to switch to a vegan diet.
Today, not only do Heltzel’s students learn about Shakespeare; they also learn about issues that impact them, their communities, and the planet. In order to substantially address the climate crisis, “We need every teacher in some capacity focusing on this issue.”
What can that look like? Heltzel begins by asking, “What’s the work that needs to be done?”
By Katrina Hagedorn
Image by David Prasad via Flickr
“This is a time of change…I think everywhere... uncertainty and change.” - Beth Weinman
Dr. Beth Weinman, faculty member in the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at Fresno State, knows how much the world is changing and how much need there is to build a sustainable workforce in order to address the shift towards greener infrastructure. She believes that in higher education this change can be navigated by strategically bringing together people across the university - administration, faculty, facilities and students - to see what can be done better.
Through SEI’s Energize Colleges program, Beth fosters collaborative relationships to institute the campus as a living lab model and provide sustainability-focused internships to university students at Fresno State. These internships are a part of a high impact practice for since students who participate in internships and other hands-on extracurricular engagement tend to perform better post-graduation. Beth believes that the Energize Colleges internships empower students to help the university, and provide something that the classroom cannot.
By Hernan Gallo and Jessica Redden
Bring sustainability topics into any college classroom
Climate change and sustainability topics are deeply interconnected with most disciplines. The challenges and opportunities of climate change can provide a connection between real world problems and classroom content, resulting in deeper student engagement and preparation for green jobs. The Energize Colleges team has worked with colleges and universities to support integration of sustainability curriculum.
Interested in collaborating with Energize Colleges on how to bring climate change and sustainability content into your course or college campus? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Host sustainability trainings for faculty members
Involve faculty across disciplines, including science, engineering, arts, history and policy, to infuse environmental sustainability into their academic projects! You can start by hosting hands-on workshops with industry leaders. Energize Colleges hosts virtual "train the trainer" workshops on energy and sustainability and can support you in organizing a faculty training.
Looking for inspiration? Request no-cost access to the Campus as a Living Lab Train the Trainer Webinar Recording and other trainings here.
The SEI Team
Environmental education and workforce development experts share stories from the field