New Alternative Spring Break Empowers Students in Climate Resilience and Local Activism

This spring, HSU students enrolled in an intensive workshop hosted by the Program of Environmental Studies will spend their spring break vacations applying knowledge to action in the name of climate resilience.

The program welcomes students from any major to enroll in HSU’s first alternative spring break with a specific focus on climate change. The Student Leadership Institute for Climate Resilience (SLICR) workshop will be a three-day intensive, March 16-18, followed by a service-learning project.

Offered as an upper-division course, the curriculum is designed for HSU students striving to become agents of social change for community resilience and climate justice. During spring break, students will engage in exercises like mapping their spheres of influence, developing their own vision of leadership, and examining case studies of regenerative economies.

“Students across many departments develop strong values about environmental justice during their time at HSU,” explains Sarah Ray, Environmental Studies program leader and professor. “We want to give them the opportunity to put those values into action through service-based learning projects that support climate resilience and HSU’s legacy for social change.”

Ray brought the alternative spring break program to HSU after participating in the UC-CSU Knowledge Action Network over the 2016-2017 school year. Named as the CSU leader for the statewide program, Ray worked with academics and policy leaders across California who are developing transformative climate and sustainability education like SLICR in institutions of higher education. Along with HSU’s Climate Action Analyst, Morgan King, and Geography Professor Rosemary Sherriff, Ray traveled to UC Santa Cruz to train in the SLICR curriculum in 2018.

Ray says she’s excited for HSU students to get their hands dirty—literally—by engaging in projects involving permaculture, building solidarity economies, and disaster preparedness in the community.

In addition to the SLICR curriculum, enrolled students will also work with Cooperation Humboldt to complete the service-learning component of the course. A nonprofit organization, Cooperation Humboldt works to build community capacity by supporting projects like food pantries, eco-villages, public banking, and food not lawns. By the end of spring break, students will choose from Cooperation Humboldt’s “menu” of projects by signing up for an area of personal interest.

The pilot of the SLICR alternative spring break will be funded by a $10,000 grant from the ‘Campus as a Living Lab’ (CALL) program, developed by the 2014 CSU Sustainability Policy with funding from the National Science Foundation.

“This program is so in line with HSU’s overall mission,” says Ray. “The idea of the SLICR curriculum is to learn how to engage in actions in ways that help ourselves and our communities thrive. It moves students beyond just learning about problems to taking actionable steps towards a world they would prefer to live in. We want to help students figure out how to become agents of social change and translate their idealism into genuine skills by becoming leaders in climate resilience.”

For more information, visit SLICR at UC Irvine, Cooperation Humboldt, HSU’s Climate Action Plan, and the Environmental Studies Program at HSU.