A Post-Thanksgiving Reflection On F&ES

Basking in the afterglow of a lovely Thanksgiving spent at home with my family in Pennsylvania, I thought it appropriate to take a moment and consider what I am most thankful for about F&ES! It’s been such a blessing to even have the opportunity to study here in the first place. But there are so many things about the school that make it an amazing, unique place to study the environment.

I’m thankful for the classes I’ve taken this semester and professors I’ve had, especially my land use and planning seminars. The professors have so much practical experience and expertise in their areas, and are so eager to share with students and really engage with the class. I’m also thankful that this semester, for the first time in two and a half years, I don’t have to worry quite so much about finals. Though of course finals make up the greatest overall percentage of our grade, unlike law school, our entire course grade does not hinge on them.

Happy Thanksgiving! Photocredit to The Happy Raw Kitchen.

Another thing I’m thankful for is the friends and colleagues I have met during my time at F&ES. From the first bonding moments of MODs, to the shared group assignments in classes, to the many social events we’ve enjoyed over the course of the semester, I have met some of the friendliest, most dedicated environmentalists that can be found. Everyone I have met has such a deep sense of consciousness about what we’re doing (or could be doing better) to make the world a better place. I know that the commitment that others hold and the new ideas they have shared with me inspire me every day to make decisions in my personal life that are better for the environment (and often also better for my health too!).

Finally, I’m thankful for my student jobs at F&ES. Besides being the Communications Department student social media assistant, I am also a research assistant for the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. As a research assistant, I’ve had the opportunity to work on the Yale-Pace Local Governance of Shale Oil & Development Project, which is actively assessing the potential and realized impacts of hydraulic fracturing and finding best practices for local governments to adopt to mitigate the impacts that are of concern to them. The YCELP team is fantastic, and I love working together on a project that can bring useful tools to local governments that are grappling with this issue.

As the social media assistant, I have gotten to listen to guest lecturers every week that present on cutting-edge, sometimes mind-blowing new ideas in environmental science, policy, and design. Highlights for me this semester that have completely altered my worldview are Terry Tempest Williams and Salvatore Iaconesi. Terry Tempest Williams, the renowned environmental author, was so genuine and spoke so eloquently; it’s hard to put into words what a beautiful, emotional experience it was to listen to her lecture.  Salvatore Iaconesi is a Yale World Fellow whose Human Ecosystems project maps cities based on human connections, with data from social networks. After studying urban planning and taking a GIS course, I got really into this frame of mind about what a map is. Salvatore just blew that open and showed what a map could be; so much more than just the visual representation of physical spaces. A map can also show human interconnections and emotion across a city.

So I suppose in conclusion, I’m thankful for the whole F&ES experience thus far. There’s only one more week of classes for this fall semester, and then it’s finals time! It’s been a great start to my time at F&ES, and I am very much looking forward to what next semester holds.