Earth month is a time to come together to honor and advocate for our planet’s health. But this day is more than just awareness and preservation. It is especially about education, giving, and empowerment. Indeed, the Franklin education embraces complexity to address improvement and change for a healthier, thriving, and resilient planet. Responsible leadership and sustainable development are key components of Franklin University Switzerland's mission and are perfectly reflected in the academic curricula and the daily commitment of our community members.
This year, Franklin is celebrating this sustainability month through ongoing lively social media activities and especially in conjunction with our University Day of Giving, an incredible all-day event that took place on campus on April 13, 2022. University Day was an accolade towards Franklin students, alumni, faculty, and staff working at both individual and systemic change, and served as the catalyst for essential conversations about the health of our planet and the work that needs to be done to safeguard its natural environments and ecosystems.
Franklin's large and global community of successful Alumni — entrepreneurs, researchers, policymakers, and above all, leaders — have helped and keep striving to shape a better world. Many of them remain deeply involved in the life of the university. In honor of Earth Month, some of them shared with us their thoughts on how Franklin prepared them for working on complex social and environmental issues and here are their responses.
Clara Bowe '12 - Environmental artist
"I studied history and environmental science at Franklin, and did academic travel every semester. This gave me the strongest possible foundation for lifelong learning and the ability to think global, and act local. When I started embroidering in 2018, I already had an international audience with which I could exchange ideas, and my years at Franklin, all the museums and all the people, still inspire me. My artwork aims to broach often delicate conversations about how we use our urban spaces, especially green spaces. I am especially focused on the potential for Frederick Law Olmsted’s designs (Central Park in New York, and all the parks in Boston, for example) to evolve in order to meet our future food needs. The more we participate in the food system, the more we connect to nature and each other, the greater potential there is for us to solve problems together."
Troy Billet '16 - Advisor at OffGridBox
"When I ran into an inventor from Italy, we instantly hit it off joking around in Italian. It turned out that he had invented a solar generator providing clean water and internet anywhere on earth. We teamed up with the shared vision to provide affordable access to clean water and renewable energy in vulnerable communities. The language skills and cultural acuity I picked up during my time at Franklin, not only allowed me to establish an amicable relationship with an inventor, but helped us reach thousands of people across Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. Our projects with USAID, the United Nations, and European foundations alike will continue to solve the complex social and environmental issues with affordable access to clean water and renewable energy across the developing world."
Nicholas Nelson '18 - Project Scientist - Ecosystem Services Consultant at Montrose Environmental Group
"Franklin exposed me to international perspectives on the complex interactions between cultures, businesses, and the environment. My Franklin experience enabled me to collaboratively tackle complex environmental, social, and governance issues on regional and national scales with our international clients. Beyond cultural exposure, Franklin prepared me to think using an interdisciplinary framework. We consult businesses by assessing social and ecological value using economic models. My most recent work has been converting offshore oil rigs into coral reefs."
Mia Montoya Hammersley '13 - Staff attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center
"As an attorney who represents communities fighting environmental injustices, my practice is lead by those most impacted. My studies and travels at Franklin really opened my eyes to how communities are always the experts of their own experiences and to how humbling it is to be a visitor. Now that I'm living and working in my own community again, I feel empowered by the global perspective on the environmental movement that I gained at Franklin, knowing that my work is one small piece of a collective effort being lead by countless other communities around the world."
Carly Besh '17 - Legislative Aide at the United States Senate
"Franklin’s professors of all disciplines provided me with the skill sets and experiences I needed to succeed as a public servant in the United States Senate for the past three years. As a Legislative Aide within the Ocean, Science, and Environment portfolio, I have reflected on every class and academic travel I had with the Environmental Studies professors to help create policy and assist community members. Late Professor Gardiner will always have a profound impact on me with her constant encouragement to explore the hiking trails from Franklin’s front door –which led me to work on the new National Scenic Trail feasibility studies and other National Park legislation."
Leslie McNulty '14 - Industrial Advocate for the Financial Sector Union
"My current position has highlighted how the liberal arts model can prepare one to engage in matters of sustainability across sectors. Working in a political climate which favors both fossil fuels and corporate interest I see the risks posed to employees by investors’ lack of consideration for climate. At Franklin, having the opportunity to engage in a range of study areas taught me to identify where sustainable practices are most impactful across different fields. I have been able to apply this knowledge to develop strategies for individual actions to effect systemic change and entrench concepts of sustainability in the application of administrative norms and decision-making processes."
Amanda Brown '16 - Account Supervisor, Global Impact and Purpose, FleishmanHillard
"I think one of the most prominent ways Franklin prepared me to work on complex environmental and social issues was by getting me out of a bubble I didn't event know I was in. There is hardly a more powerful forcing mechanism for developing a global mindset than moving to a different country and surrounding yourself with peers and professors who can offer diverse experiences and perspectives. It's a mindset that has been incredibly useful in my previous work with international environmental non-profits and its something I also find indispensable in my current work with corporations, as they seek to accelerate climate action, and I think it is something that is only going to become even more prominent as the world comes even more connected."
Lily Rybarczyk '14 - Farmer in Training at Carnation Farms
"Franklin prepared me for working on complex social and environmental issues by equipping me with a holistic lens. Through interdisciplinary classes, I learned to approach topics from different angles. Through Academic Travel, I witnessed problem-solving and saw solutions in action on international, national and local scales."
Ryan McCarthy '12 - Refugee Officer at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
"A Franklin education equipped me to face the ambiguities and differing viewpoints in a complex, global world with empathy and humility."