Coordinating a Climate and Justice Teach-in

Two UW–Madison students work to develop the Wisconsin Energy Institute’s Earth Day teach-in.

As part of UW–Madison’s Earth Fest activities, the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) will host a Climate and Justice Teach-in with the hopes of moving climate solutions forward in Madison. On April 22, the event will bring together students and the campus community to participate in two sessions on sustainability and climate justice. Driving this effort, including organizing, planning, and coordinating the climate and justice sessions, are WEI education and outreach student assistants, Lulu Fregoso and Katie Wenzel. 

Lulu Fregoso
Lulu Fregoso

Both UW–Madison juniors with environmentally-focused studies, Fregoso and Wenzel have used their WEI internships to not only bolster their work experience and skills, but also make real change and improvements in the Madison community. Fregoso, while only having started recently, has already learned a lot — especially about science education and communication. “A big aspect of our job is communicating science topics to kids and getting them interested in the research that’s going on at the UW,” Fregoso said. “Communicating science or climate change can mean using a lot of big words. Breaking it down and making it accessible to the community is really important and is another aspect of science that we can be a part of besides just doing research.”  

Having started with the WEI last year, Wenzel has worked extensively on making the teach-in a reality. In addition to the April 22 event, Wenzel has reached out to a broad range of professors at UW–Madison with a request to include climate discussions in their classes sometime during the week of Earth Day. This initiative, called #MakeClimateAClass, is scheduled to have over 20 different courses participate which will reach an estimated 2,500 students. 

Katie Wenzel
Katie Wenzel

After each class, students will be invited to join WEI at the Climate and Justice Teach-in where they will participate in two of three sessions offered. One of the sessions provides participants with the opportunity to learn about and assemble electrical Little Free Libraries (eLFLs) — “Kind of like building IKEA furniture,” Wenzel explained. Powered by small solar panels, the eLFLs were designed by UW–Madison engineering students to provide free community access to clean electricity for charging phones or other devices. After double checking that each eLFL works, Fregoso and Wenzel will work to install them in Madison communities after the teach-in session. 

The other two Climate and Justice Teach-in sessions include a speed-networking session where participants will be able to connect with scientists, educators, and other industry experts and a panel on how experts and community leaders across disciplines work to implement sustainability in the Madison area. “The goal of the panel is to create a meaningful conversation around solving climate issues in Madison while providing a space for students to ask questions and further the dialogue,” Fregoso said. 

Fregoso and Wenzel hope the Climate and Justice Teach-in will empower the UW–Madison campus and community to address climate justice and the association between racial, economic, and environmental justice. “We also wanted to engage those who aren’t typically interested in climate justice or awareness while also making it as action oriented as possible,” Wenzel said. 

Meet Lulu Fregoso and Katie Wenzel during Earth Fest
Climate and Justice Teach-in

Monday, April 22 | 5:30–8 p.m.
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