On Friday, May 13, 2022, at 11 a.m., Columbia Climate School held its inaugural graduation in Miller Theatre on the Morningside campus. Among the 86 graduating students in the MA in Climate and Society program graduating, their families, and leaders of the Climate School was a special guest with strong ties to Upper Manhattan: WE ACT for Environmental Justice‘s Co-Founder and Executive Director Peggy Shepard.
WE ACT has a long history of organizing and engaging Upper Manhattan residents in community-based planning and campaigns to address environmental protection and environmental health policy locally and nationally.
Shepard discussed climate change’s disproportionate impacts on communities of color, Indigenous peoples, and low-income communities, and how the world cannot transition away from fossil fuels without also addressing inequity and systemic racism. (You can watch her speech here, which is introduced at 26:00 and begins at 27:40, as well as the rest of the graduation ceremony.)
“Climate change is arguably one of the most significant social and political challenges of this century,” Shepard said. “But you all know that. The question is: what will you do about it?”