2020 – Present
Public Engagement seeks to bring all members of the UChicago community into addressing the most pressing environmental issues, both through education and collaborative action, as well as to leverage partnerships with other environmentally-oriented groups to improve the sustainability of the school and community.
Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign
Throughout Autumn 2022, we worked on strategy for UChicago’s fossil fuel divestment campaign. To do so, we engaged in collaborative action with the Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) and worked with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the Committee on Campus Sustainability (CCS). We learned about the historical context of divestment campaigns at other universities and UChicago, which we used to inform our process of updating the petition and outreach efforts of the campaign.
We worked in tandem with EJTF to discuss campaign strategy and petition demands, re-strategizing the divestment petition campaign with a focus on concrete and contextualized demands, accessibility, and broader outreach. Through this, we were able to update the campaign’s petition and launch a new website and social media outreach plan for broader community engagement
Our Autumn 2022 Engagement Events
Climate and Environment Fair
We hosted an educational event for students interested in environmentalism to hear from environmental organizations on campus. There were 40+ attendees and 7 organizations present at the event. All of the involved organizations presented to students, including organizations such as CEGU and EPIC. Tabling throughout the event also allowed students to ask questions and sign up for listhosts.
We provided an opportunity for students involved in environmentalism across RSOs and academic programs to connect with one another in a social environment, with the aim of promoting community and future collaboration among organizations and students. Over 60 people attended our mixer. Attendees mingled and played games with members from other environmental student organizations and students who were interested in sustainability projects on campus.
The Future of the Midway
The draining of the Ephemeral Wetlands
A Conversation with Dr. Bronwyn Nichols Lodato
MPAC President Bronwyn Nichols Lodato and event moderator Georgia Wluka discuss the environmental consequences of draining the Midway's Ephemeral Wetlands on Southside Communities.
Public Engagement welcomed the Midway Plaisance Advisory Council’s President, Bronwyn Nichols Lodato, to explain the City of Chicago’s proposal to designate the eastern end of the Midway Plaisance as an Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR) replacement area following the construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) in Jackson Park. Currently, the plan to use the eastern end of the Midway as a UPARR replacement space involves creating new green space by draining wetlands located in the park, removing a powerful carbon sink.
Draining the Midway is not an adequate UPARR replacement area when a new park could be built in a community that needs it.
Donuts and Divestment
In Winter Quarter 2022, we focused on spreading awareness of the divestment from fossil fuels movement at UChicago. We partnered with the Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) on their divestment campaign to create an educational speaker event, showcasing what divestment is, how divestment has worked at other institutions, and how it could be implemented at UChicago.
Donuts and Divestment had 5 virtual panelists (Rutgers University, UW Madison, Responsible Alpha, Stanford) and a PSI + EJTF moderator. Our panelists were very supportive of the campaign efforts so far and knowledgeable and ranged in terms of fields (professors, students, financial advisors), allowing for a varied perspective.
Donuts awaiting, event moderator Sam Heintz leads a question and answer session between the audience and the five virtual panelists.
Paint a Pot Movie Night
We hosted a Paint-a-Pot Movie Night in Autumn Quarter 2021, partnered with Kitchen Sink. We watched Fantastic Fungi, provided snacks, and gave out succulents and clay pots to paint, and Kitchen Sink provided the paint supplies.
Public Engagement and Kitchen Sink hand out painting supplies for the event.
A painted pot from the event.