A Call to Action
The UO's Environment Initiative puts the Earth first every day.
Every day is Earth Day for the Environment Initiative at the University of Oregon.
Climate change, sustainability, energy and decarbonization, water, indigenous sovereignty, environmental entrepreneurship, biodiversity, and social change through environmental education – these are just some of the areas that the UO’s Environment Initiative explores in a cross-discipline dynamic, including eight colleges and more than 140 researchers.
Earth Day, which marks the birth of the modern environmental movement on April 22 every year, brings into sharper focus the work of the initiative.
The initiative is one of the strategic priorities designed by the Office of the Provost to reshape research and education at the university by looking at societal challenges from the real world and applying a cross-discipline approach. They involve dialogue between disciplines, researchers, and community partners.
The Environment Initiative embraces perhaps the greatest challenge of our day by shifting academic imperatives and integrating multiple ways of knowing. Every scholarly field can contribute and bring a broad range of expertise to this moment – from the humanities and social sciences to the natural sciences, law, journalism, business, design, and education.
“I am constantly amazed by the depth and breadth of ongoing environment related activities created and pursued by the UO community,” said Executive Director Adell Amos. “As a public research university with the integrated mission to explore, teach, and serve, our engagement is critical to our authentic participation in the state, the ecoregion, the nation, and the world.”
The initiative brings together research happening all over Oregon as well as all over the world, including The Glacier Lab, which is a social science and humanities approach to studying glaciers; The Oregon Hazards Lab, which uses science, technology, and community engagement to understand, monitor, and mitigate multiple kinds of hazards in the Pacific Northwest; and the Environmental Leadership Program.
Research drives the initiative
Eloise Navarro is a third-year undergraduate student double majoring in international studies (with a concentration in conflict resolution and peace studies) and Romance languages (Spanish and French). She is also pursuing minors in environmental studies and Latin American studies. Eloise is passionate about achieving climate justice through community empowerment. They hope to partner with Fossil Free Eugene and their involved organizations to provide a series of trainings and workshops focused on familiarizing community members with various tactics to help achieve climate justice. Her goal is to include workshops on letter-writing and media, art and activism, collective liberation, direct action, and digital organizing. The trainings will provide a way to create reciprocity between local environmental organizations and community members. Community members will have the chance to uplift these organizations’ climate efforts while the organizations will provide support and guidance to residents to empower them to take climate action and advocate for their communities.
Jim Wynne was born and raised in Japan and moved to the Portland Metro area in 2008. He grew up going on an annual road trip with his family, during which they would explore the national parks in Western US. Through these explorations, Jim learned about and witnessed the natural beauty of this greater bioregion, as well as how the ecosystems changed, which piqued his interest in geography and environmental studies. His interest in geography led him to pursue his education at UO, through which he has learned about and furthered his passion in the intersection of geography and environmental studies. Jim began working for the UO Student Sustainability Center as a first year and during his time has made great contributions to the campus community through the SSC's Habitat Restoration and Grove Garden programs. Jim recently graduated from UO and is starting a fieldwork position with the Seeds of Success program for the Conservation Corps of New Mexico this spring.
Unlike paper or glass, plastics present challenges for recyclers. The UO Sustainability Office is partnering with Lane County to help stem the tide by providing recycling events April 30 and May 21 to keep plastic out of local landfills. It’s one program in an office that is committed to a goal of Zero Waste.
Estrella Soto is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in environmental science and minoring in food studies. Estrella is interested in food security, and as a fellow, they plan on supporting and enhancing direct student contact to fresh food from farms. First food cultivation is vital to the work and learning that Estrella does, aiming to improve first food access for Indigenous students while addressing food insecurity across the student body.
Jess Gladis is a student in the Clark Honors College majoring in environmental studies and minoring in philosophy. She's had opportunities to pursue research through generous funding from the Just Futures Institute and the Mellon Foundation, the mentorship of Mark Carey and the Glacier Lab, and support from environmental philosophers like Barbara Muraca. Jess is focusing on expanding her pre-existing research in embodied environmental justice, applying theoretical approaches of hermeneutics and eco-phenomenology as a philosophical lens to lived relationships with the environment in actual praxis. Building on this approach, she hopes to develop research concerning their application to regional environmental problems as a means to generate more holistic solutions.
What would happen if we dumped 300 gigatons of fresh water into the ocean? Oceanographer Dave Sutherland is studying the relationship of glaciers, ice, and oceans.