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The Climate Conscious Corps Finds a Voice at Korbel and Beyond

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Korbel Communications

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CCC Winter HIke

One would think that any school in Denver would have an environmental group taking one form or another, be it an advocacy group, an outdoor recreation group, or a mix of the two. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that Korbel recognized a group of its own– and it’s taken off. The Climate Conscious Corps (CCC), founded by Korbel graduate students this past year, has whipped up a presence that rivals any of the more established groups on campus. When asked about what kind of work the CCC does in the campus community, the organization’s president, Emily Slusser, says, “It is dedicated to promoting sustainable initiatives both on and off campus… and provides students career-building opportunities in the field of sustainability, while connecting like-minded students, faculty members, state/local partners, and organizations.”

A student doesn’t have to be studying sustainability at Korbel to be a member of the organization. They don’t even have to be a student at Korbel; Slusser describes CCC membership as an “open invitation to any graduate student at DU.” It has also gained traction from the broader student community. “Students who attend our events come from all programs at Korbel,” Slusser says, “as well as the business school, social work school, and engineering school.”

With event turnouts as high as 30 people from across campus, and an email list of over 100 students, Slusser makes sure that students are aware of the opportunities their group organizes, “We sent out at least weekly emails on upcoming CCC, DU, and regional climate-related events, and produce an e-newsletter called ‘Degrees of (Un)certainty.” And though it’s good to get information out there, what’s been most important is the follow-through on those events, which Sophia Warren, a first-year representative to CCC and a master’s student in Korbel’s Global Environmental Sustainability program, cites this as one of the organization’s key ingredients for its success. “We make things happen,” she says, “and we host events that fulfill the needs of our members, and we make sure that the things that happen are what graduate students want.”

One of the many things that the CCC’s leadership team does particularly well is listening to what students want to see happen with the CCC. At the beginning of this academic year, the organization sent out a survey to everyone on its email list asking them what events they wanted the CCC to host in the coming year. When discussing the survey results with Warren, as well as Zia O’Neil, also a first-year representative to CCC and a master’s student in Korbel’s Global Environmental Sustainability program, they pointed to networking and social events as one of the things that came to the forefront. “Networking events, social events, as well as leveraging the academic connection,” O’Neil says, “we have been trying to make sure we balance all three as we have planned out events for the quarter.”

So, what kinds of events has the group hosted? For starters, there was a lunchtime social at the Denver Beer Co. that took place in mid-January, which followed in line with the student preference for social events. Then, on the first weekend of February, the group organized a hike with Dean Mayer, which was the second one this year. “We had a great time with Dean Mayer at our winter hike,” Slusser recalls, “we coordinated with the gear rental folks on campus to get spikes for folks and went out to Maxwell Falls for a hike with about 13 DU students and a couple of alumni. Since it was quite snowy, we walked right past the frozen falls without knowing it, but it was still a beautiful and sunny hike.” Most recently, the group took part in an exclusive tour of the Alliance Center, which is a co-op in downtown Denver that houses many of Colorado’s leading nonprofits that focus on social, economic, and environmental well-being. “It was great,” reflects Warren, “it was really fun to connect with a climate center in Denver. I think at Korbel we have a lot of outward attention to organizations that can feel a little out of reach but be able to talk with people in Denver was a good opportunity.”

CCC Winter Hike
CCC Winter Hike with Dean Mayer

As the winter quarter draws to a close and we rush into the spring, one question looms in the air– what about next year? One of the CCC’s biggest assets is the base of first-year students that have held leadership roles within the organization. It has helped ensure the continued success and resilience of the group upon the graduation of second-year leaders that are currently in the positions of president, vice president, treasurer, and community outreach and media director. There are also some plans in the works for future events that could bring students to a new area of campus– the mountains. “We’d like to organize an intentional visit up to the mountain campus,” O’Neil says. Both she and Warren are planning on staying in the CCC for the upcoming year. Warren also wants to continue to broaden the network, “The CCC that’s been shown to me is one that’s been very open to ideas, so I’m excited to see what the first-years next year are interested in.” Regardless of what path the CCC decides to take in the coming years, one thing is for certain, it has granted students opportunities that may otherwise seem out of reach, and though fairly new, it has become an invaluable component of the fabric that sets Korbel apart as a school of international studies.


This article was written by Korbel Graduate Student David Kelm.