At the intersection of activism and education

If you haven’t heard of her, you will. Greta Thunberg is becoming the voice of a generation: the generation that will be feeling the impact of the last 100 years of unchecked economic growth and resource theft. Thunberg began protesting in 2018 when she was 15 years old.

She went to the Swedish Parliament everyday after school, indeed skipping school, to protest the inaction of leaders in response to what is often considered the greatest threat facing our planet. She was inspired in part by the student walk-outs following the Stoneman Douglas School shooting in Florida.

Thunberg said she first heard about climate change at the age of eight and could not understand why so little was being done about it. At age 11, she became depressed and stopped talking. Later on, she was diagnosed with asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder and selective mutism.

She added that selective mutism meant she was speaking only when she needed to and that “now is one of those moments”; and that being on the “spectrum” was an advantage. She is being who she is to do everything she can to address the common injustice facing all future and current generations of all species.

Thunberg has become a well-known activist and is routinely asked to speak at very high-profile events. She rarely does, but when she did decide to speak at the United Nations, she traveled over the ocean for 13 days to truly “walk the talk.”

Our campus is doing something by increasing compost collection, hiring zero-waste ambassadors and building green(er) buildings. It’s not enough, but it is something and we need your help to continue to make progress. Stop buying stuff, bring reusable cups, unplug your appliances when not in use, ride your bike and ask your instructor to provide electronic copies or accept papers electronically. Be aware and care. You can also visit or follow us on instagram to see more of what the campus is doing.

You may not be Thunberg and you may not have a desire or an interest to become an environmental activist as she has. As you begin (or continue) your academic studies, you do have a responsibility to ensure that no matter what you do, you do it for the betterment of our community and our shared future. You do not need to be an environmental studies major to care about the environment and you do not need to be an activist to make a difference.

If you do fancy yourself an activist and want to do something, check out the climate walkout happening on Sept. 20.

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