Environmental Justice is Racial Justice.
Temple is Philadelphia. As the only four-year public college in Philadelphia and as an urban institution that is deeply engaged in the community, Temple University’s commitment to sustainability can have a profound impact on the health and quality of life of a large and diverse population within Temple and its surrounding environment. The university is positioned to be an important educational resource for teaching sustainability, with its three pillars of environment, economics and social justice.
We are committed to demonstrating the value of environmental justice principles through our own example and through the activities we sponsor in the community. Temple aims to serve as a model for similar urban institutions and to burnish its national reputation for excellence and commitment to principled policy and action.
Our staff is continually encouraged and inspired by our students’ demands for justice and equity. We commit to challenge ourselves to incorporate the daily work of anti-racism and the unlearning and dismantling of white supremacy into our sustainability programming and in the fulfillment of our Climate Action Plan.
We know our work is just beginning and built on a large body of scholarship and activism from many dedicated and brilliant people, celebrated and lesser known. We look forward to working for a just climate future together in community with Temple students, staff and faculty and our North Philly neighbors. We’re starting by learning and listening.
Here are some action steps and reading lists from our own Temple Sustainability staff:
Teach-In: Environmental Justice
Just this past April we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with a student-led teach-in on a brief history of environmental justice and conversation about inclusive climate leadership at Temple. You can see the slides here. For more even more background, the NAACP has great resources here on their site.
Get Involved: Support #BlackBirders
Beloved Temple alum and Philly community member, Tykee James, currently serves as an Audubon Society’s Government Affairs Coordinator and co-founded #BlackBirdersWeek to show that diversity in outdoor recreation exists, and to reinforce that nature is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. See Tykee in action here.
Temple Sustainability is proud to support #BlackBirdersWeek and join all Audubon’s efforts to ensure the outdoors – and the joy of birds – is safe and welcoming for all people. If you would like to learn more about this initiative and join the student-led environmental justice working group within our new Audubon campus chapter, you can sign up via this form.
- Caroline Burkholder, Sustainability Manager, is a student of Urban Bioethics at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and thinking hard about the embodied experience of structural inequality and environmental insecurity as it relates to climate change, clinical care and community accountability. She is reading and re-reading “Police Power and Particulate Matters: Environmental Justice and the Spatialities of In/Securities in U.S. Cities” by Julie Sze and Lindsay Dillon. Check it out here.
- Also, this Kate Aranoff piece from New Republic about policing and climate change is helpful in drawing connections for the more wonkish amongst us!
- Rebecca Collins, Director of Sustainability, recommends this essential perspective from Black climate expert, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, and this call to action from a grandfather of the climate movement, Bill McGibbon, for the New Yorker.
If you would like to unpack these readings with us or join us in active dialogue about how to better incorporate principles of environmental justice into sustainability work on campus, please reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.