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Students Travel to Paris for the Climate Change Conference

Huston-Tillotson University Students Travel to Paris for the Climate Change Conference

(AUSTIN, Texas) 11.25.15 — Huston-Tillotson University Green is the New Black™ (GITNB) students Brittany D. Foley (right) and Elvia Hernandez (left) will join Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students, attending the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention Conference of the Parties 21st (COP21), convening in Paris, France, from November 30 – December 13, 2015.

Foley, a sophomore from Taylor, Texas, and Elvia Hernandez, a junior from Los Angeles, California, by way of Houston, Texas, will continue to advance the University’s environmental awareness goals through their presence at the conference.  Foley is an environmental studies major with an interest in international environmental law.  Her goal in life is to aid minorities that live in areas where gentrification, food security, and environmental justice are problematic.

Hernandez was born in Los Angeles, California, but raised in Houston, Texas. She is a business administration major with a strong commitment to improving her community and promoting the value of education. She hopes to develop an organization that will mentor middle and high school students to inspire and guide them to pursue college degrees.

The students are representing HT as part of the Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) in partnership with the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs delegation of HBCU students, faculty mentors, and environmental justice community leaders and youth participating in the conference.

The HBCU Climate Change Initiative was founded in 2011 by Dr. Beverly Wright, Director of the Dillard University Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Dr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. The initiative was conceived to help raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and marginalized communities and to develop HBCU students as leaders and advocates on issues related to environmental and climate justice policies, community resilience, adaptation and other major climate change topics (i.e. transportation fuels, energy sources, carbon emissions, green jobs/green economy, just transition, and community economic development). The initiative sponsors activities that provide opportunities for HBCU students to learn about climate change science, policy and advocacy and to present their research projects on topics relative to climate change issues.

A delegation of 56 inclusive of 29 students and 27 mentors are attending the conference this year. Fifteen HBCU’s are represented including: Alabama A & M, Alabama State University, Claflin University, Dillard University, Florida A & M University, Grambling State University, Howard University, Huston-Tillotson University, Lincoln University, Morehouse College, North Carolina A & T, Southern University Baton Rouge, Spelman College, Tennessee State University, and Texas Southern University.

The HBCU student delegation in partnership with the NAACP will participate in the Climate Generations Area Youth Side Event, “Climate Change Experiences and Leadership of Young African Americans.” on December 10th from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The Conference will bring together representatives of the world’s governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to achieve a new international agreement on the climate, applicable to all countries with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

HBCU delegates participating in the COP21 Climate Change Conference will use this opportunity to collaborate with delegates of the African Diaspora to raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of climate change on vulnerable and marginalized communities.

The award-winning Green is the New Black™ HT student organization fosters new shades of green on campus and in the community. Green is the New Black™ is a vital arm of a wider sustainability movement at Huston-Tillotson that reflects the University’s commitment to social justice, environmental equality, and training students to tackle real world global challenges. Sustainability at HT encompasses academic programs, student activities, campus projects, and community engagement. Highlights include:  Outfitting a Green Study Patio through a $10,000 Home Depot Retool Your School Award; introducing an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program enriched by internship opportunities with organizations such as the Sustainable Food Center and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; providing funding for GITNB student scholarships and funding for the Dumpster Project, an environmental education and outreach initiative, awarded through the Ford HBCU Community Challenge; establishing a campus food garden and community garden partnerships; facilitating 736  sunpower 327-watt roof-top solar photovoltaic panels, turning light energy into electricity; and promoting community and campus environmental awareness events, including Earth Day Austin 2014 and 2015.


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