Published: July 17, 2017

climate justice class

CU Boulder graduate students from David Ciplet's Environmental Studies course "Power, Justice and Climate Change" gather at his home to share their podcasts with each other. The students created podcasts as part of their work for the course and are now sharing these audio stories with the world via Boulder public radio station KGNU.

CU Engage's newest program, the Just Transition Collaborative (JTC), is partnering with an Environmental Studies Course and local public radio station KGNU to offer a new radio/podcast series this month entitled "The Brink: stories of inequality, struggle and transformation".


The Brink is a radio storytelling project about what is needed to transition to a more just environment and society. "From homelessness to toxic contamination, fracking to immigration, The Brink tells stories of inequality, struggle and transformation," explains Manuela Sifuentes, Co-Director of the JTC and Director of Community Partnerships at CU Engage.

The word “brink” has dual meaning: that which exists at the margins and a critical turning point. The Brink is a project of JTC Co-Director and Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies David Ciplet’s graduate course Power, Justice and Climate Change. Students in Ciplet's course created podcasts as their final projects; they worked to edit and produce them so that they would be ready to share with the world via KGNU.

Tracy Kessner, a graduate student in the Master's of the Environment Program, reflected on her podcast project and what she learned. "I spoke to five different activists and each one was completely different in their approach to activism, but each was incredibly well educated and passionate about the topic. I think one of the most challenging parts of the project was having over 7 hours of tape that had to be edited down to just under four minutes, and yet still have a coherent and compelling story. I learned that fossil fuels are part of the past, not the future, of Colorado," Kessner explains.

You can catch each week's live show this summer during the Morning Magazine between 8.10 and 8.30am. Stories from The Brink will play at approximately 8.20am. See the full lineup of stories, below.

On Wednesday July 5th, Professor David Ciplet who leads the Power, Justice and Climate Change course at CU, and students Tracy Kessner and Timothy Molnar spoke about The Brink on KGNU. Listen here.

Each story from The Brink can be heard directly from KGNU's website after airing. The schedule is as follows:

Monday July 10: "Rise Up" by Simone Domingue and Matthew Oliver 
What the future holds in terms of a changing climate is certainly a worrisome topic. Furthermore, addressing climate change as a policy matter has seen its fare share of contention and setbacks. We talk to young activists who see climate change as a real threat to their future and are taking action into their own hands. They share their perspectives on fighting for change in this story called “Rise Up.”


Wednesday July 12: "Fracking, Democracy, and Activism" by Tracy Kessner
Fracking is an issue that touches on a whole host of issues in Colorado: home-rule versus state rights, environmental and social justice issues, community versus corporate rights, and democracy vs plutocracy. How do we protect the health and safety of Coloradans when attempts to enact stricter regulations are blocked by legislators and oil and gas developers? Bella Romero, a middle school in Greeley, illustrates issues that all counties in Colorado may soon face.


Monday July 17: "Aspen's Underbelly: A Look at a Ski Town's Dirty Secret on Sustainability" by Timothy Molnar, Morgan Schacker and Kate Manzer
The town of Aspen, CO touts itself as an international leader on sustainability. In fact, they procure 100% of their energy from renewable sources. A more holistic view of the town’s sustainability picture, however, provides a less rosy story. With average home prices in excess of $7 million, we explore where the community’s migrant work force calls home. And take a look into the town’s shortcomings in addressing these inequities.


Wednesday July 19: "The American DREAM... or Nightmare?" by Jacqueline Albert and Emily Shaldach
Since Trump’s election, immigrants have been fearful of their status in America. We talked to two students who immigrated to the US as children and found out why they’re here, what they’re doing now, and how we can help.


Monday July 24: "Homeless Under Fire" by Meredith Tyree and Katherine Wentz
As more and more wildfires blaze through Colorado, Boulder County residents are quick to blame the hundreds of homeless people camping in the national forests. In this story, we explore the opposing concerns of homeless camping versus the need for the homeless to find refuge, and try to find some common ground in the process.


Wednesday July 26: "Rocky Flats: The Future of Nuclear Guardianship" by Clare Stumpf
For almost forty years, the 176-acre site called Rocky Flats was the epicenter of nuclear weapons manufacturing for the United States. Following two chemical fires, illegal plutonium incineration, and a federal investigation, the site was officially closed in 1989. Now, amidst a proposal to open the site to the public as a recreational site, the challenge is to establish protections against the toxic chemicals left behind. The Boulder Valley School District recently passed a resolution to prohibit field trips to the proposed Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge in an effort to protect schoolchildren from exposure to the toxic legacy of Rocky Flats.