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Publication Date


Document Type


Study Type

ENV 312: Sustainable Solutions


Environmental Science and Policy


Camille Washington-Ottombre


Climate Justice, Climate Change, Higher Education Institutions, Social Justice, Heat Stress


Higher education institutions (HEIs) are constantly changing and adjusting to external influences. While HEIs discuss how to battle climate change, certain members of their communities are often excluded from the discussion. This project aims to include neglected perspectives on advancements in climate action at Smith, and to propose ways to avoid problematic changes. The participants in the study were all associated with the college’s dining halls. We engaged staff, administration, and students in this project through activities, interviews, and via email-contact. From these methods of data collection, we used thematic coding, and critical reasoning to analyze results. Our results show that an overwhelming majority of workers feel excluded from climate action discussions at Smith College, the college under study. The main proposition made by administrators to improve sustainability in dining is a transition to centralized dining, but this is strongly opposed by workers. Our participants also voiced many workplace hazards they faced, which connects to climate justice issues within the institution. While the college boasts about many sustainability initiatives, climate justice is neglected as some of the most vulnerable members of the community face dangerous workplace conditions and their voices are ignored. We recommend that the university conduct a widespread evaluation of current conditions within the dining halls, and to invest in improving the current demands of the staff who work in dining. Considering dining workers are essential to the success of the college, we propose that climate and its impacts on staff be recognized, cataloged, and addressed in a timely manner.


© 2024 The Authors