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 Tuesday, March 11, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Student Perspective
Amy Harris brings social justice to the Environmental Center
By Joanna Nasar, graduate student, School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Amy Harris, a senior in the interdisciplinary environmental studies program, is an advocate of social justice and the environment. She is as outspoken about these issues as she is educated about them.

Harris is the sustainability director of the E-Center at CU-Boulder. She participates in groups such as the Environmental Justice steering committee and the Energy and Climate Revolving Fund. In her work Harris helps to bring typically marginalized voices back into the environmental movement while also continuing the center's tradition of progressive environmental action.

"Environmentalism means that everywhere we live, we work, we play is healthy, safe and clean. It doesn't just mean you go up into the woods and try to save polar bears. It is something different," Harris said.

She believes a truly sustainable program will address environmental justice, economic vitality and environmental protection. In her position she has worked to improve the university's environmental justice program. Recently Harris and Alexis Goggans, diversity outreach coordinator for the E-Center, designed an event focused on the most polluted zip-code in Colorado, 80216.

The event filled the Glenn Miller Ballroom with more than 200 people and engaged student groups such as the Black Student Alliance, the Bahai'i Campus Association, Amnesty International, Coalition Against Sweatshop Abuses. The event aided the E-Center in developing ideas for helping the community. In the future they plan to build a community garden and a greenhouse in the neighborhood because there is no grocery store, Harris said.

Harris acknowledges that she has developed a strong voice in the environmental movement on the campus. For instance, Harris has met with Chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson to discuss carbon neutrality. In 2007 Peterson signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment agreement and the university committed to eliminating campus greenhouse gas emissions, doing an inventory of current emissions, setting targets, offering sustainability courses and making public reports available.

Peterson said more steps will be taken with the help of the Environmental Center and other organizations. "Our sustainability future will burn bright and clean for many years to come, securing the University of Colorado at Boulder's reputation as a national environmental leader for a new generation," Peterson wrote in a guest opinion column in the Feb. 24, 2007 Boulder Daily Camera.

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