California State University, East Bay
Dr. Karina Garbesi co-founded the
award-winning Social Impact Solar Program (SIS) to engage California State University students in the work she discovered as co-founder and member of the Board of the
United Nations award winning non-profit, We Care Solar (WSC): sharing solar energy and light to alleviate energy poverty and empower communities. Now shared with five CSU campuses, SIS engages university students in creating a more sustainable and socially just world through hands-on classes centered on building rugged off-grid solar power and lighting systems designed to alleviate energy poverty (We Share Solar Suitcases). Age-appropriate curriculum is shared with CSU campuses and local low-income schools, creating mutually-supporting learning communities. With CSU faculty supporting local teachers, and university students working alongside school children, SIS lays the foundations for equal access to sustainable solar energy careers, engaging students in learning and sustainability with a diversity of voices, to help California achieve its ambitious climate protection goals.
SIS not only motivates STEM learning with a powerful human purpose, it engages students directly in altruistic action. Positive direct action engenders hope; hands-on work with tangible results empowers; the combination is joyously addictive. The SIS program engages CSU students in altruistic action in many ways:
Throughout her career Garbesi has involved her students in projects to improve the environmental sustainability and social justice–on campus, locally, and globally—while honing their skills needed to become effective actors. Examples include:
Garbesi believes it is a moral imperative to arm our graduates, not only with knowledge, but with optimism and generosity of heart, in this time when society in general, and our students in particular, live, increasingly, in terror of a bleak future of rapidly escalating environmental crisis, inequality, and social breakdown. We must defeat hopelessness, disempowerment, and paralysis with tangible action toward a highly desirable and clearly viable future. Our common future depends on our graduates seeing themselves as warriors of the common good.