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Working to Advance Social Change and Environmental Justice

Stories | 08.19.21

Laurianne da Cruz is a Vancouver Campus student in the Master of Public Policy and Administration: Social Change Leadership concentration. Da Cruz wants to advance community psychology-based policies to support mental health among racialised minorities in British Columbia. She has a strong interest in animal welfare, ideation, and environmental justice and recently participated in the World Wildlife Fund’s Designing Change for a Living Planet 2021. She shares her experiences and passion for social change.

I have been a volunteer with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) because of my passion for animal care and turning sustainable project plans into a reality.

The organisation recently held a virtual event, Canada’s Designing Change for a Living Planet 2021, to engage university students to take conservation action and drive meaningful change. Students needed to design a mobilisation action plan to protect and restore nature in communities where they live, learn, and work.

The team I worked with collaborated on a multipronged approach to ensure the implementation of long-term environmental actions that will advocate for the restoration of the wetlands. We created a mobilisation plan that would lead to conservation actions. Together, we have consolidated our innovative ideas into one tangible solution.

The experience was engaging as I learned from numerous guest speakers, including Ryan Godfrey, a Conservation Researcher at the WWF. The event allowed attendees to ask these great leaders questions, and I was able to gain insight into the action plan my team and I are worked on. This experience further solidified why I volunteer at the WWF: I want to take active steps to support and shape out sustainable initiatives.

In my previous work, I had researched environmental actions and income in Canada as a sociology student in the master’s level program at the University of British Columbia. In this experience, I understood more than ever the behaviours and factors that drive people to engage in environmentally conscious actions and those that do not.

Environmental justice is a social issue of great importance. In order to effectively tackle the policies, action need to be taken at all levels of government: municipal, provincial, and national. People’s health and livelihoods are left at the mercy of polluters and Indigenous-insensitive federal laws and regulations. Putting national laws and rules to address these environmental injustices is imperative, specifically on a national and international scale.

We have seen short-term fixes that satisfy these polluters’ actions but have not made an impact. Long-term, sustainable changes need to be the aim of our policies. This will be economically beneficial in the long run and ensure the conservation and restoration of the environment of Earth.

My program at Adler University is helping me strengthen my skills as a high-performing professional and enhancing my career plans in international institutions, companies, non-governmental organisations, and various levels of government across the world.

The Master of Public Policy and Administration program provides me with the tools to be an effective policymaker with multidisciplinary policy analysis and design skills and subject-specific expertise in development, sustainability, and global governance, allowing me to correctly navigate in my field and a profession as an international specialist. I will graduate ready to enact policy change in the industry, government, and non-profit organisations at home and anywhere in the world.

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