Earth U: Bringing mentors and students together to discuss environmental justice

Students speak with faculty mentors at the Earth U dinner in 2015.

Students meet with faculty mentors Brenda Bowen and Nalini Nadkarni to discuss sustainability and inclusion at the 2015 Earth U dinner.

By Austin Holmes, student sustainability ambassador

Once a year, University of Utah students have the chance to sit down over dinner with mentors from a variety of fields and backgrounds to discuss one of the nation’s most pressing issues: the intersection of sustainability and diversity.

Kyle Powys Whyte, faculty member at Michigan State University and keynote speaker for the 2016 Earth U dinner.

Kyle Powys Whyte, faculty member at Michigan State University and keynote speaker for the 2016 Earth U dinner.

The 3rd annual Earth U: Sustainability & Diversity Mentorship Dinner on March 2 from 6-8 p.m. on the 6th floor of the new S.J Quinney College of Law Building brings together students and professional mentors from different disciplines to discuss career opportunities, inclusion, and environmental justice. Kyle Powys Whyte, faculty from Michigan State University and an enrolled member of the Potawatomi Nation, whose research focuses on climate change and indigenous peoples, will provide the keynote address. Students can sign up online at tinyurl.com/earthudinner.

Jai Hamid Bashir, a graduate student in Environmental Humanities, helped create the dinner in 2013 because she wanted an event that addressed representation and the power of human-to-human connection. “(At the event,) students are invited to envision the potential diversity of careers incorporating ecological thought, and in addition, models of hope and progress, both environmental and social.”

Franci Taylor, director of the University’s American Indian Resource Center and a member of the event’s planning committee, says that Earth U provides students with the opportunity to have conversations with community and university leaders who specialize in the areas of equity and sustainability. “These leaders have an established history in assisting others, building them up and encouraging them to excel in advocacy for issues they are interested in and passionate about. This dinner is an opportunity for students to network with professionals who work in areas that they are interested in.”

2016 Earth U: Sustainability & Diversity Mentorship Dinner poster.

2016 Earth U: Sustainability & Diversity Mentorship Dinner poster.

Earth U is hosted by the Sustainability Office, and its planning committee includes members from the American Indian Resource Center, Career Services, City & Metropolitan Planning, Environmental & Sustainability Studies, LGBT Resource Center, Office for Equity & Diversity, and Voices of Diversity. The College of Law is also providing support.

So why should you go?

“As I was told as a child, ‘The clearest path to where you want to go is found by talking to those who have traveled it before you.’ Having participated in the past Earth U events, I highly recommend attending,” says Taylor.

Seating for this event is limited, so sign up now at tinyurl.com/earthudinner!

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