For the past 18 years, I have served as our campus’ scholar in residence, recruited by a previous provost with a vision for shaping the college into a laboratory for environmental sustainability.
My post has been a joyful one. As a biologist with a master’s degree in poetry, a background in journalism and a national platform in the climate movement, I have represented Ithaca College around the world — in Congressional briefings, at the Paris climate meetings and inside church basements in struggling communities on the frontlines of environmental injustice.
My interdisciplinary scholarship and activism were welcomed on campus, and I flourished, authoring books, editing monographs and collaborating with filmmakers to create narratives that speak truth to power.
In addition to teaching my own class within the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences (ENVS), I serve as a guest speaker across campus. My position thus offers me an extraordinary view of the Ithaca College curriculum.
Each year, I lecture in 10 to 20 classes. Indeed, I may be the only faculty at Ithaca College who has taught or co-hosted programming in all five of our schools.
To that end, I joined fellow faculty and staff serving on IC’s Climate Action Group. This committee worked for the better part of last year, drafting recommendations and helping to shape my own ambitious proposal.
The good news: after a year of planning and writing, I got the grant.
The bad news: both faculty co-chairs of the Climate Action Group are now among those losing their jobs as a consequence of Academic Program Prioritization, which, as far as I can see, is disaster capitalism for higher education.
All told, at least nine IC professors who teach some aspect of the climate crisis — in five different departments — are on the chopping block, with Recreation and Leisure Studies disappearing altogether.
Here’s the thing: When an administration decides that the most important task is aligning the size of the faculty to the correct proportion and does so by eliminating non-tenure track faculty, unique, irreplaceable areas of expertise are lost.
It’s our contingent and NTEN faculty who are engaged in some of the most innovative, intersectional, progressive teaching on campus. I know because I’ve literally taught across our curriculum for 18 years.
I can’t launch an intersectional Center for Climate Justice by myself.