Megan Spielbauer

What are your majors? Economics and environmental studies, certificates in public policy and Chican@ and Latin@ studies

Expected graduation: December 2021

What inspired your interest in the environment and/or community? Freshman year, I enrolled in an environmental studies class and learned about the popularization of monoculture grass lawns and their environmental costs. That class showed me how social norms convinced suburban Americans that grass lawns were a necessity despite their ecologically damaging qualities, which pushed me to look deeper into my understanding of human-nature relations and enroll in more environmental studies courses.

In that class, we also discussed how much “choice” folks actually possess in a capitalist society, which made me question some of the fundamental principles of my economics courses. Both my economics and environmental studies classes show me how American economic development continues to rely on the exploitation of the environment and human labor force globally. Thus, environmental justice is the only form of environmentalism that I consider to be meaningful as it combines environment and community, centers marginalized voices, and emphasizes accountability.

What would you say (or do you say) to other students about CESP and the Nelson Institute? I would tell other students that the Nelson Institute has some great professors and classes that will expand your understanding of what constitutes the “environment.”

Something few people know about you: I’m a pro on Wii Sports Boxing.

Something else about you? I really enjoy folding origami, specifically cranes.