Class On Environmental Issues Debuts At University College In St. Louis

Pictured: John Hickey

Tornadic storms, periodic droughts, flash floods, erratic temperature shifts and unprecedented windy conditions have left many Americans wondering whether climate change is to blame.

The scientific consensus is that human beings must cut carbon pollution in order to avoid even worse impacts from climate change.  The good news is that there is broad public support for climate action now and policies to address climate change.


What might those policies look like? Among the possibilities:

– Protecting more forests and prairies to sequester carbon from the air.

– Updating state policies in order to encourage solar panels on commercial rooftops.

– Adopting building codes that require the use of modern energy efficiency standards.

– Building an extensive charging network to support transition to electric vehicles.

– Restoring the tree canopy in urban parks and neighborhoods.

The practical measures required to address climate change are available to be implemented now. According to John Hickey, the missing ingredient is trained activists who can lead these policy efforts.

Grassroots activists are needed the to wage successful campaigns to win critical policy battles, whether at the municipal, state or federal level.

Citizen engagement has achieved major public policy victories in the past, from the initiative petition drives that created the Missouri Department of Conservation, to the State Parks and Soils Tax, to stopping development projects in flood plains.

A new generation of environmental activists are needed and they must learn the skills to win the policy changes required to address climate change. That is the focus of a new class that will be taught in the University College at Washington University.

“I know that  engaged citizens can make a real difference in addressing the environmental crises that we are facing today,” said Hickey, a veteran organizer. “To be successful, activists need to learn the strategies and tactics that constitute a successful campaign.

“Environmentalists must learn the lessons of past victories,” added Hickey, who will teach the course. “This class is designed for students, professional organizers and dedicated volunteers who want to increase their effectiveness.”

The course, Sustainability 3402, will be taught at the University College, part of Washington University. It’s open both to current Washington University students, as well as to adult learners.

Hickey, who led the Missouri Sierra Club’s campaign work for 10 years, helped win key victories to protect state parks from being sold off; and, to force coal-fired power plants to comply with the Clean Air Act.

More information is available through the University College website:

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