California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) was selected as the recipient of an Honorable Mention in the Climate Leadership Award competition by the national climate action organization Second Nature in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council. In their ninth year, the national Climate Leadership Awards recognize innovative and advanced leadership in climate change mitigation, resilience, and student preparedness among colleges and universities that are active in Second Nature’s climate commitments.
CSULB is a signatory to the Second Nature Climate Commitment, which encompasses both a commitment to reduce our campus carbon emissions and promote climate literacy (Carbon Commitment), while also building adaptive capacity to withstand the inevitable impacts of climate change (Resilience Commitment).
According to Second Nature’s awards announcement, “this year’s winners exemplify leadership through practices, partnerships and initiatives designed to tackle the most complex climatic challenges of the twenty-first century.” The Student Preparedness award category, in which CSULB received the honorable mention, recognizes university-wide efforts to create educational opportunities both within and outside of the classroom to prepare students for climate change action and leadership. The award also acknowledges campus-community partnerships that provide experiential learning opportunities that give students with real-world experiences in climate change education, empowerment, and positive impact in their local communities.
“We are extremely honored and excited that CSULB’s dedication to expanding experiential, innovative, and high-impact learning experiences for students in sustainability, climate resilience, and environmental leadership has been recognized by the awards committee,” stated CSULB Geography faculty Dr. Lily House-Peters, who also serves as the campus Resilience Commitment Coordinator.
Efforts for which CSULB was recognized include service learning, field excursions, and internships that provide students opportunities beyond the classroom walls to connect theory and practice by working directly in and with the local community to tackle sustainability challenges. The honorable mention also celebrates CSULB’s innovative programs like the extremely popular annual Green Generation Mixer and Student Sustainability Research Showcase organized by the Office of Sustainability and hosted by the Japanese Garden each April, the 24-hour hackathon style Climathon event coordinated by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the student-organized State of the Environment Conference.
Dr. House-Peters attended the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit (February 10-12, 2019) in Tempe, Arizona organized by Second Nature to accept the Honorable Mention award on behalf of the university. The summit brought together university administrators and presidents, sustainability professionals, activists, and mission-driven investors for lively presentations, conversations, and debate focused on sustainable transitions and climate empowerment education in the higher education sector.
The event featured a variety of notable speakers, panels, and engaged conversations. Dr. House-Peters remarked particularly memorable among these was the keynote from climate philanthropist and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Jeremy Grantham, who has pledged 98% of his wealth to efforts that further climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation. Another highlight was the plenary panel featuring climate activist and artist Mustafa Santiago Ali, the Senior Vice President of the LA-based Hip Hop Caucus, which aims to promote political activism, environmental justice, and community revitalization through hip-hop music and culture. Notably, the conference format also featured engaging participant-centered Next Level Conversations that enabled short, energetic brainstorming sessions across diverse topics, including “Becoming 100% Renewable”, “Students as Change Agents for Climate Resilience”, “Universities as Catalysts for Regional-Scale Climate Action,” and “Expanding Representation and Inclusion in U.S. Climate Policy & Education”, among many others.
“It is really great to be recognized by our peer institutions for our efforts to integrate sustainability and climate literacy into the student educational experience here at CSULB,” said campus Sustainability Coordinator Holli Fajack. Although this is the first national award that the university has received for climate leadership since signing the Carbon Commitment in 2011, Fajack is confident that it will not be the last.