Appalachian State University

Amidst the high peaks of Western North Carolina just as the fall hues broke through the trees, RCC Associate Director Mackay Pierce arrived at Appalachian State University hosted by the Department of Sustainable Development, Dr. Rebecca Witter, and RCC Fellow Edgar Villeda. In 2020, the university announced a robust new Climate Action Plan to achieve carbon neutrality and respond to the emissions reductions goals set by North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.

With over 300 students, the Sustainable Development program at Appalachian State encourages its students to engage in complex sustainability challenges facing the world, with coursework at the intersection of environmental, economic, and social problems.

RCC Fellow Edgar Villeda perfectly demonstrates this approach. In coordination with the Appalachian State Environmental Justice Co-lab, Edgar is conducting interviews with LatinX laborers in counties near his home in North Carolina. The goal of his work is to better understand and give voice to the experiences of laborers on farms and in meatpacking facilities in the state and, through work with the RCC and the EJ Co-Lab, better support organizations seeking to address environmental justice issues and improve working conditions.

On campus, Pierce also met with Dr. Rebecca Witter, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Development, who teaches environmental justice, and other students from the Sustainable Development Department to discuss initiatives that students at Appalachian State are working on.

In an afternoon talk, Pierce spoke to a larger group of Sustainable Development students at the Plemmons Student Union. There, he encouraged students to think creatively about what work that they could do on campus to continue to improve the sustainability of their community and engage their fellow students, while also sharing strategies for finding jobs working directly on the climate crisis and ways to further connect with the RCC.

Following his visit, Appalachian State became the 59th campus to join the Rachel Carson Council Campus Network.