‘Worry and hope’: Producing students to save the world
“How many wake-up calls do we need? The challenge is to save ourselves from ourselves.” — UH system student
(CLUE: The dominant paradigm cannot be the vanguard.)
From Governor Ige’s Capitol Connection Newsletter, December, 2021
“Worry and hope. Turning awareness into action.” Those were some of the student concerns UH sustainability director Matthew Lynch presented to the UH Regents from a systemwide focus group study and campus wide survey. The study showed that 96% of students across the UH system were“concerned” or “very concerned” about climate change and were looking for ways to take action. As one freshman said, “Some days when the news is mostly bad, it makes you feel worse. But other days you see someone making a small change and you think, I can do something. Just having a little bit of hope can overpower the doubts.”
Lynch and faculty and staff on the 10 UH campuses want to offer that hope across four sustainability areas: curriculum, operations, research and community/cultural engagement. “Providing a path to a degree, to a better job, is no longer enough,” he maintained. Instead of a “green workforce,” he said we need an “infusion of sustainability competency across all of our economic sectors.” The campuses currently offer interdisciplinary sustainability certificates and degrees, and several have already reached “net-zero” in energy efficiency through on-site PV systems and other measures.
What does he see as the value of world summits like COP26? Besides the public commitments, he said, “One benefit is being able to connect with other island societies, to share what’s happening on the front lines of climate change. Conferences like this also provide a way to share ideas and resources, to build international relationships and to provide opportunities for youth to shape their own futures.” Lynch’s own journey took him from a 10-year career in banking and finance to community-building and regenerative agriculture. Along the way, he discovered a deeper set of values. “The truth is that we, as people, are not separate from nature,” he said. “I think island people get it. We have to find ways to heal our disconnections.” For more details, visit https://www.hawaii.edu/sustainability/.
REALITY: Crichton: Environmentalism is a religion