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Muskan Walia: Spring24 Community Practitioner in Residence

Welcome to Muskan Walia, the Spring24 Environmental Humanities Community Practitioner in Residence. Muskan is a fourth-year student at the University of Utah, studying math and philosophy. After family members developed health issues due to poor air quality, she felt compelled to ensure clean air, uncontaminated spaces, and safety for her family and the rest of her community.

In 2020, Muskan founded a campaign with Utah Youth Environmental Solutions (UYES) to commit her local school district to a 100% clean electricity transition by 2030. Muskan and her team wrote and passed a revised energy policy for energy efficiency, electrification, and building upgrades in the Davis School District. Since then, she has worked to expand clean energy campaigns to other school districts, several of which have passed 100% clean energy resolutions.

After graduation, Muskan, alongside other youth, identified a need for comprehensive climate education to prepare young people with the skills and tools they need to mobilize around environmental justice issues. To fill this gap, Muskan partnered with four other youth organizers and an Environmental Humanities graduate student to collaboratively design a climate justice curriculum for youth across Utah, which is now implemented annually. She is currently working with UYES to develop a youth-led water justice campaign to address pressing water management concerns in Utah and the greater Southwest, with an emphasis on protecting the Great Salt Lake.

Muskan’s experiences have cultivated a passion and commitment to community building, climate education, and environmental justice. She also cherishes time spent bird watching, gardening, making pottery, and exploring Trader Joe's.

We asked Muskan what she was looking forward to as the Spring ‘24 Community Practitioner in Residence in our program, and she responded: 

I first became acquainted with the Environmental Humanities graduate program when UYES partnered with a graduate student, Maria Archibald, to develop an environmental justice training program.

Much of my community organizing experience has been in partnership with institutions, like academic institutions and nonprofits. While such partnerships can be powerful, they can also be extractive if approached irresponsibly. With a surge in institutions looking for ways to support grassroots efforts, I am grateful, honored, and excited to work alongside the EH graduate students to bridge the scholar/activist divide and build understanding about how academic institutions and students can build long-term and self-sustaining relationships with communities and grassroots organizations.

In particular, I am excited to get to know you all and draw from our collective experiences to support students who are pursuing community-facing work and using their position within a large institution to support grassroots efforts, particularly efforts led by young people, in ways that promote intergenerational knowledge exchange and youth leadership within social movements.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, Environmental Humanities invites a practitioner-in-residence to the University each semester to use the tools of the humanities and culture to further environmental and climate justice. Read more about our practitioners-in-residence on our blog.

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Last Updated: 2/13/24