Graduate Thesis: Sustaining a Student-Led Environmental Movement

Posted on June 23, 2020

courtney ransom

ELGL member Courtney Ransom wrote her San Diego State University thesis project about a sustainable endowment project, referencing information she gained from ELGL in the “Risk and Fiscal Sustainability” section. Check out her thesis, and connect with Courtney! She’s currently looking for her next opportunity working in local government.

Thesis Abstract:

As the global economy grows, environmental activists increasingly work towards more environmentally sustainable investing practices, especially at higher education institutions. As Sustainability Commissioner (2019-2020) at San Diego State University (“SDSU” or “the University”), I set out to reform SDSU’s investing practices by building a partnership with the organization which manages the University’s endowment, The Campanile Foundation (“TCF” or “the Foundation”).

The endeavor was made possible by the inspiring advocacy and leadership from students at the Green Love Sustainability Commission, the Associated Students (“AS”), and San Diego’s entire climate activist community.

The project produced measurable sustainable investing commitments and generated the implementation of revitalized investing practices on behalf of the Foundation. Moreover, the now ongoing sustainable investing initiative at SDSU demonstrates the value and effectiveness of collaborative activism to people—especially young people—fighting for system-wide sustainability.

Author’s Note

In the 2019-2020 school year, I was SDSU’s Associated Students Green Love Sustainability Commissioner. As Commissioner, I worked with TCF and pressed for reimagined, more environmentally-responsible investing practices. Though Commissioners weren’t successful in pressing the issue with TCF in the past, a variety of factors presented this year as a perfect opportunity.

With the year’s campus-wide surge in climate activism, change in leadership at TCF, and rising, global success of environmentally sustainable investments, we made real progress. By the end of the year, TCF made measurable commitments to reform their investing practices. Leaders at Green Love and beyond will need to increasingly nurture our partnership with the Foundation and
similar institutions—influencing and ensuring commitments and subsequent actions.

My hope is that this report shares how activism, especially climate activism, can be a crazy success when we channel our passion into finding mutual solutions. The information presented is based on a principle close to my heart—that, at some level, all people want to solve the same problems. By accepting and understanding other points of view, we can simultaneously create solutions and open a trust-based channel for people who disagree with us to change their own minds. This project started with a goal to change one small part of the global financial system, but morphed into a deeper lesson about navigating the daunting world of power dynamics, politics, and adulting.

Download the full thesis

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