Faculty Feature - Christie Klimas

How does what I purchase and consume affect others that I don’t even see? Are there ways that I can change my habits to help change systems? Christie Klimas, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Studies pushes her students to ask these questions as she teaches ethical sourcing in two study abroad programs in Peru. She is also co-developing a GLE course in collaboration with a university in Brazil that will focus on biodiversity and its threats.

Dr. Klimas connects her students to people and communities that share directly their experiences of complicated issues like deforestation, land rights, resource extraction, and trade and labor practices. In FY@broad Peru: Chocolate, Coffee, & the Ethics of Global Production, students meet artisans, fair trade cooperative groups, coffee co-operatives, farmers, and supporters of indigenous and community land rights. In Peru: Forests, Mining, & Communities, co-taught with Rose Spalding, students complete a life-cycle assessment of a global product like gold or timber, quantifying the product’s impact from extraction to final disposal, and meet with individuals and communities affected by the choices we make as consumers. Peru is rich in natural resources and so negotiates key development challenges like cultural survival, deforestation, resource depletion, exploitation, and corruption. While Peru’s social, political, and historical context is unique, what happens there also happens globally. Likewise, in her GLE course ENV 250 Applied Ecology, DePaul students on campus and Brazilian students at Universidad Estatal Paulista will create photo journals of local wildlife and discuss perceptions of the natural worlds in Chicago and Litoral, Brazil.

“If there were global outcries, many of these problems are relatively easy to fix,” says Dr. Klimas. “We have the potential to make changes industry-wide.” Her students are ready and motivated to lead this change.​​​​​​​​​