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Alex Groher-Jick

  • Alex Groher-Jick, Class of 2018
    Alex Groher-Jick, Class of 2018
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Acton, MA
Major: Environmental Studies
 
What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Amazing professors/academics

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

Proximity to Portland, perceived sense of community, beauty, general sense of comfort on the campus

In what ways did you change as a result of your Environmental Studies (ENVS) major?

Liberal arts educations in general are supposed to teach you to think critically, but I certainly learned how to do this in ENVS more than anywhere else. Something we discuss in ENVS is how people are often not ready to question their views on environmental issues and even consider their environmental beliefs to be spiritual and thus beyond critique/questioning. Many of us came into ENVS thinking like this but had to adapt. The major, and perhaps Lewis & Clark in general, also changed me into someone who is excited to be an academic and a thinker, something I didn’t believe myself to be, and didn’t even have desire to be, when I started college.

What were the biggest challenges to you in ENVS that ultimately were worth the effort you put into them?

It was really hard for me in the beginning to learn that a lot of my environmental practices and beliefs were mostly unfounded and not effective. Also that it isn’t enough to just think about one element of an environment (e.g., nonhuman ecosystems). We have to think about a lot more, such as people and what we build. I think a lot of students leave the program early on for exactly that reason, actually. The program deconstructs and complicates things that we think we know, and things can feel hopeless at times and like there is no good answer. I think it is important to think like this, though, not hopelessly, but in somewhat uncertain terms because most things are fluid and changing and don’t have simple, certain answers.

How did you weave your experiences outside ENVS (e.g., an overseas program, an internship, a course in another department) into your ENVS major?

I studied abroad in Chile which inspired me to focus my capstone on Chile. Studying overseas in South America also opened my eyes a great deal about the injustice in many global practices and U.S. foreign policy which is something that I tried to incorporate into my concentration, capstone, and thinking in general in ENVS.

What is one thing you’re proud of in your ENVS capstone, and where do you think it may take you in future?

Something that I am proud of in my capstone is that I tried to take many different perspectives into account. Even though I had my own perspective, or a set of opinions that I agreed with, I tried to give time and space to different ideas and beliefs.

How does the phrase Environment Across Boundaries apply to your own experiences in ENVS, and what will you carry forward from these experiences as you take next steps in your life?

Right now I am in the process of applying for various nonprofit positions, mostly in the field of humanitarian social justice work. Many would consider this a big change from my background in environmental studies, but this is not the case. I chose to take my major in a direction that largely spends time thinking about people, which is not what many people think about when they consider ENVS. Of course, thinking both near and far has and hopefully will continue to define my work. Communication across ideological difference is certainly the most difficult aspect for me (potentially because I am a cis white male who has been told his ideas are valid my whole life!), but especially in these divisive times I recognize it is more important than almost anything else. Learning to listen is something we talk a lot about in the ENVS program and that goes hand in hand with this type of communication, and it is something I actively pursue every day.

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