Youth Activism and Environmental Literacy

This week’s newsletter looks at youth activism in California and strives to understand youth educational needs as they relate to the environmental literacy movement.

Environmental literacy is understanding the reality of environmental injustice and climate change.

Isha Clarke

This week’s newsletter looks at youth activism in California and strives to understand youth educational needs as they relate to the environmental literacy movement.

This week we speak with Isha Clarke, a founding member of Youth vs. Apocalypse, an environmental justice organization that was created to raise awareness and inspire change around the climate crisis. Isha was exposed to social justice issues early in life through her family and her community in West Oakland, but she got her start in powerful community action in 2016 at the age of 13. She and other youth activists targeted Phil Tagami, a real estate developer, and protested against the development of a coal terminal in West Oakland, a community already heavily impacted by chronic illnesses related to high levels of pollution. She rose to national and global prominence in early 2019 when a video went viral of her challenging Senator Dianne Feinstein to support the Green New Deal. Isha was involved in one of the largest climate strikes last year when she and Youth vs. Apocalypse organized tens of thousands of protesters equipped with a list of targets and demands throughout the Bay Area.

Listen to her take on the climate crisis and what environmental literacy means to her:

Hear more from Isha Clarke.

Youth activism is by no means a new phenomenon. Youth have led some of the greatest political uprisings and movements of the 20th century such as the Lunch Counter Sit-ins, the Soweto Uprising, the Anti-war Protests, as well as the marches and democracy movement in Tiananmen Square. Nonetheless, it’s evident that we are now seeing an uptick in youth activism, as many activists take leadership roles in movements such as climate change, racial justice, and gender equality.

The question all educators should be asking themselves is…

Relevant Links

Youth vs Big Oil

Youth Vs. Big Oil is a California-based youth activist organization focused on shaping policy and political action around the fossil fuel industry. Their demands are to stop approval of new oil and gas permits, halt all existing oil and gas production, and establish safe distances between communities and fossil fuel sites.

Youth Vs. Apocalypse EP

In thier effort to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color, and fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world, Youth Vs. Apocalypse released its first EP in December 2020. Listen to their musical tracks and spoken word on SoundCloud.

Isha Clarke, 2019 Brower Youth Awards

Every year the Brower Youth Awards recognizes 6 outstanding, emerging youth leaders, representing accomplishments across the full spectrum of the environmental movement in North America. Check out one of the 2019 award winners, Isha Clarke, and her story.

African American Male Achievement

The Office of African American Male Achievement was launched in 2010 and creates the systems, structures, and spaces that guarantee success for all African American male students in Oakland Unified School District.

KingMakers of Oakland

Independent non-profit committed to improving the educational and life outcomes of Black boys by working with school districts nationwide on professional development, curriculum adaptation, student leadership opportunities, community engagement, and an overall system change through district collaboration.

This Is The Time

A youth-led activist campaign calling on adults to take a pledge and do everything in their power to leave a livable and just society.

Reclaim Our Power

A youth-led activist campaign demanding changes to PG&E and California’s energy market. They are especially focused on assisting communities that have been impacted by dirty energy.

Big Picture Learning

A network of more than 65 schools nationwide and around the world committed to student-centered learning with a focus on community engagement and mentorship.

News and Events

Green School Conference: Summit for School Leaders
Feb. 4-5, 2021 Center for Green Schools

Join school and district leaders from around the globe to share strategies for leading toward greener, healthier, and inspiring schools that engage students in meaningful experiences that drive achievement across the board.

Strategies for Integrating Climate Science into the Elementary Classroom
Feb. 11, 2021 Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network

This webinar provides strategies for elementary teachers to integrate climate science into their classroom.

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators
Deadline Feb. 19, 2021 EPA

The award recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Nominations are now open!

New proposal could make climate change lessons compulsory in schools 
Jan. 20, 2021 Starts at 60

Climate change education, including lessons on how to protest, could soon be compulsory in schools around the world…

The Trump Administration Rolled Back More Than 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List.
Jan. 20, 2021 The New York Times

Over four years, the Trump administration dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals…

Environmental activists pushing for compulsory climate change education worldwide as part of Paris Agreement
Jan. 20, 2021 FOXBusiness

As President Joe Biden prepared to rejoin the Paris Agreement to fight climate change Wednesday, a new campaign is underway by environmental activists to add compulsory environmental education to school curriculums worldwide…

Why the US rejoining the Paris climate accord matters at home and abroad — 5 scholars explain
Jan. 22, 2021 The Conversation

The United States helped bring the world into the Paris climate accord, the groundbreaking global agreement reached in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to slow climate change…

What changes to environmental stewardship will 2021 bring? Here’s what business leaders say
Jan. 24, 2021 World Economic Forum

With COVID-19 infections and deaths continuing to rise and the entire world feeling the economic impact of the pandemic, getting the coronavirus under control is an immediate priority…

Mission Paani: Young Environment Activist is Advocating Mandatory Climate Change Literacy in Schools
Jan. 24, 202 CNN

One of the world’s youngest climate change activists Licyprya Kangujam is taking charge on this gigantic issue of climate change.

Teen Scientist Finds a Low-Tech Way to Recycle Water
Jan. 28, 2021 Discover Magazine

Meet Shreya Ramachandran: This high school senior founded a nonprofit based in California that teaches people how to recycle water in their homes. She’s also shown that the water left after cleaning with soap nuts can be reused to irrigate crops.

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