RCC President Musil Welcomed at Rival Universities

The Duke Blue Devils and the NC State Wolfpack are fierce rivals on the basketball court. But both universities equally welcomed RCC President Bob Musil to campus as Musil spoke about “The Legacy of Rachel Carson and Environmental Justice Today.”

Carson began her writing career on the beaches of North Carolina, which she loved and limned in her first book, Under the Sea-Wind (1941, 1952). Musil began his tour at Duke, one of the RCC’s premier members of the Rachel Carson Council Campus Network (RCCN), with over 5,000 active members among faculty, students, staff and administrators.

At Duke, Musil spoke at the Nicholas School of the Environment where he met with Stanback Dean Lori Bennear, and was hosted by senior lecturer Nicki Cagle, Associate Dean of DEI. The environmental justice movement began in North Carolina, is growing and still needed, Musil explained, as North Carolina is home to the largest concentration of polluting hog farms in the nation. The Tar Heel State also contains huge industrial wood pellet facilities that take clear cut forest trees from North Carolina, grind and process them into huge amounts of wood pellets that are then shipped overseas to be burned for energy in the EU and U.K.

These polluting, unhealthy, and climate damaging facilities are found in only a few counties in North Carolina that are home to a disproportionate number of poor people of color. Musil called on Duke students to join with the RCC and its environmental justice allies to fight against such injustice and commit their lives to working for a sustainable, just and peaceful future. After his speech, Duke students rushed to sign up and to receive copies of the RCC’s latest report on the hog industry, Swine and Suffering: An Introduction to the Hidden Harms of Factory Farms, that was co-authored by RCC Duke Stanback Fellows, Francesca Cetta and Lucy Goldman.

While at Duke, Musil also met with RCC Duke Stanback Fellows and urged Nicholas School students to apply for the RCC’s nationwide Fellowship Program. Musil also invited Duke students to join him, EJ communities members, and others aboard the Henrietta for a Cape Fear Riverboat cruise September 30 to observe the huge domes of wood pellets in Wilmington harbor and to get copies of the RCC’s third major report on wood pellets, Greenwashing: A Report on the Corporate Selling of Polluting Wood Pellet Production by RCC Duke Stanback Fellows Emma Brentjens, Ana Young, and Sasha Provost.

Musil then headed the next day to Raleigh and North Carolina State University (NCSU) where he was hosted by Jane Hoppin, Director of the NCSU Center for Health and the Human Environment. At NCSU, Musil introduced hundreds of students and faculty to the RCC Fellowship Program and to the work of the RCC nationwide in Tess Moody’s introductory course on Conservation of Natural Resources, and in Bethany Cutts’ upper level course on planning for parks and green spaces with an emphasis on preventing climate change and providing more equitable access to healthy green spaces for poor and marginalized communities. Musil also met with the CHHE Environmental Justice Research Group led by professors Jen Richmond-Bryant and Katy May and with Jory Weintraub, Director of Science Engagement, along with graduate researchers interested in the RCC and its Fellowships.

Musil ended his stay at North Carolina State with another public lecture on Rachel Carson and environmental justice to an engaged and enthusiastic audience. During the reception that followed his talk, as they did at Duke, NCSU students and faculty signed up for the RCC in large numbers and surrounded Musil with questions about the RCC, Rachel Carson, environmental justice, and what they could do about it. North Carolina State then officially became the sixty-sixth campus to join the Rachel Carson Council Campus Network (RCCN).