Gabriella Francolla

Simply put, I have become a more practical environmentalist, a critical thinker, and have a clearer vision of how our future must look.

Gabriella Francolla, Class of 2018



Degree and Class Year

BA ’18


San Diego, California


Environmental Studies


Bike Coop, Coalition for English Education and Social Advocacy (CEESA), circulation assistant at Watzek Library

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Aware, Driven, Fun-loving

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

The opportunity to live in Portland, the small class sizes, and the notable environmental studies program

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

Simply put, I have become a more practical environmentalist, a critical thinker, and have a clearer vision of how our future must look. Even though I considered myself a environmentalist as a first-year and continue to do so post-graduation, my perspective on what environmentalism should look like and must look like is drastically different. Today, I feel better equipped to tackle our modern-day challenges with a more thorough and useful toolkit.

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

I was challenged throughout the ENVS program by the diversity of skills that we learn, due to the broad term Environmental Studies. This program teaches you both qualitative and quantitative research methods, from conducting interviews and surveys to using spatial tools like GIS. While some skills were easier for me to learn than others, it was important to stick with it and gain different experiences. This helped me to better conduct research for my thesis and now I have an array of skills in my back pocket for wherever my postgrad life takes me.

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

It is easy to take other experiences, lessons, or concepts from different classes and bring them into your ENVS research since our program is the epitome of an interdisciplinary experience. The ENVS program is designed so that you choose classes, ideally from different departments, that you feel will further your education in Environmental Studies. You then propose these classes to be a part of your major. Some of the most influential classes and professors I had in college were from these courses and they later became the foundation to my thesis. 

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

Reflecting back on my thesis, I am proud of how I was able to weave together different themes from some of my most inspiring classes to build a strong argument about the future of conservation. Particularly, my major takeaways from Global Environmental History, Philosophy of the Environment, and Environmental Theory became the basis of my thesis. I would like to believe that I managed to achieve an interdisciplinary approach in my thesis and for that I am proud. I was able to look at a subject—salmon conservation in the Columbia River basin—while considering a historical, philosophical, and ecological perspectives, just to name a few, and to construct an argument that was well-rounded and strong. Now I can take this holistic approach to considering problems and solutions forward with me as an active and informed environmentalist and citizen. 

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?

Environment Across Boundaries, to me, means understanding the diversity of stakeholders that may be invested in a single issue. If we want to move from problems to solutions, we must understand these different viewpoints and try our best to sufficiently address them. Ignoring the needs of some groups in our society will never be a successful way of making meaningful change. This topic became an integral part of my thesis; I spoke with a variety of conservationists while researching for my thesis and they demonstrated the range of ideas regarding what should be done to conserve salmon in the 21st century. I ultimately made suggestions about how conservationists from different viewpoints can overcome their differences to make substantial change on behalf of salmon. This research, assessing the reasons that people disagree on both what is a problem and how we can get to solutions, will become increasingly necessary. Today, I continue to consider these themes of overcoming disagreement and settling on solutions beyond my classes and research, to other challenges we face in our natural and built worlds and the polarized opinions of the people who make change in our country.