Can you imagine young professionals who represent the trans-national, trans-disciplinary, and trans-cultural experiences needed to address the global and local sustainability needs?
Can you imagine them being trained to work across these divides to solve issues of equity, sustainability, and environment?
Can you imagine them having the training to speak beyond their disciplines and culture groups to targeted audiences on a human level?
We are working with these students. The brightest undergraduate students from under-represented groups in their home countries, all working full time on sustainability issues. The aim of this project is to tell their stories, in their voices. The work we are proposing is modeled on our previous work developing the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program in the US (video example above). The focus is on building personal narratives that link issues of the Planet (from conservation to environmental loss) with issues of Prosperity and Peace (exploring the roles of power, privilege, agency, and identity in shaping our relationships with each other and with our planet). In this previous work, we built a program to serve under-represented groups in the sciences within the US. We brought students together in 8 week intensives to study and debate the intersection of environmental and social issues in the US, and we worked with each of them to develop and tell their stories to public audiences, and place those stories online. Initially the story telling was crafted as an identity building tool for the scholars, to support their confidence within a predominately white and affluent field. However, the impact on others outside of the program was even greater – those who have had similar histories, and those who have never considered or have never been exposed some of these narratives and perspectives. Within a year, the videos we made of our scholars have been viewed thousands of times in classrooms, boardrooms, and smartphones across in over 60 countries.
And yet the issues of power, privilege, agency, and identity that lock the minoritized out from the narrative of sustainability are not issues confined to the US. These are international issues.