On Friday November 8, 2019, a total of 15 Environment and Sustainability faculty and students took to Charlotte in support of the Fridays for the Future movement. This movement is in support of more conscientious governance and critical decision-making in response to the climate changes that humanity and other species are experiencing around the globe. This particular effort stems from a young individual, Greta Thunberg, from Sweden who began striking from school on Fridays in protest of the inaction from the Swedish government. She would seat herself outside of the Parliament building each Friday in lieu of attending school to show the importance of the issue.
With growing attention, her movement spread.
Due to the incredible momentum and favor her strikes gained, many elementary, middle, high school, and college students joined the Friday school strikes. September 20-27th became Global Climate Strike week. There were rallies all over which included participants from both the private and public sector demanding positive change. Universities, local government officials, non-profits, for-profit entities, and community members from many diverse regions all participated. In the US, many cities held expanse rallies; NY Department of Education officially condoned the striking and did not penalize students for their absences, which was a tremendous acknowledgement of the student efforts. The Environment and Sustainability Department followed suit in support of its students.
Video: The Charlotte Observer
An announcement appeared on Twitter that Greta Thunberg would be at the Charlotte strike on Friday, November 8th. Catawba's Environment and Sustainability students were excited and energized to participate! Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Advocacy, and Ms. Kelly Flanigan, Department Coordinator and Adjunct Instructor, helped to make it happen. Within 24 hours of Greta's announcement, these faculty members worked closely to facilitate and organize the logistics for student participation in the event.
There were over 1200 people in attendance, and Catawba's Environment and Sustainability students were center-stage. It was a multicultural, multiethnic, multigenerational, and multidisciplinary event showcasing the overlapping intersections among social, economic and environmental issues - and it was incredibly successful. In a video on The Charlotte Observer website, Catawba students and faculty are seen among the crowd sporting their Catawba College Environment and Sustainability attire - attire produced and manufactured in climate-friendly organic cotton and eco-inks.
Overall, our ENV students understand the need to effectively advocate for political-ecological justice. Supporting this global movement is one way in which to add their voices of solidarity to people of all ages speaking out to make the world a more secure and healthful space for all.
Supplemental photos courtesy of The Charlotte Observer