All of us in the University of Minnesota community owe a debt of gratitude to the students and community members who marched to Morrill Hall to demand that the University take effective action in mitigating the devastating effects of the fossil fuel industry on the current climate catastrophe.
At a minimum, the University administration should have welcomed this as an opportunity to engage with students in an eminently “teachable” moment. To instead have placed Morrill Hall on lockdown sent a chilling message to those in our community who are eager to engage in debate about this pressing moral — and, indeed, existential — issue. Students also demanded that the University create a climate and environmental studies major.
Although there are reasons to be skeptical about allowing University curriculum to be dictated by student demand, in this instance students and faculty are in agreement regarding the significance of this generation of students being educated about issues of climate and environmental justice. Those students wishing to so educate themselves already have at least one such resource at the University: the philosophy department regularly teaches courses in environmental justice and moral problems of contemporary society which tackle questions of climate and environmental justice head-on.
Michelle Mason Bizri is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy.
This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.