The Illinois Student Environmental Coalition (ISEC) was founded in 2007 to provide a dynamic structure through which students on Illinois college campuses could heighten environmental awareness, hone their organizing skills, and create a pipeline to work in the environmental field after graduation. The coalition currently consists of 47 student organizations representing 41 colleges and universities. We are the only organization working to serve college campuses on a state and local level. The coalition maintains communication with over 1600 students through regular updates and newsletters on the ISEC Listserv.
ISEC seeks to harness the energy of the coalition to promote forward-looking environmental policies on global warming and other important issues of our time. In order to take effective action on these issues, students must be trained in leadership and organizing skills. ISEC offers students opportunities to learn these skills through presentations and workshops at our annual conference and through direct involvement with seasoned policy staff at major environmental organizations in Illinois. The structure of the organization enables students to put their emerging knowledge to practice. ISEC also assists students to learn about career paths in the environmental field and identify potential organizations for internships and/or employment. Our coalition seeks to ensure that the skills learned during a student’s involvement with ISEC result in long-term engagement on environmental issues.
What ISEC Does:
ISEC adds an important grassroots voice to the existing network of environmental advocacy in Illinois. Studying and helping to promote cutting-edge environmental policies is a core component of our work. Students from ISEC traveled to Springfield twice annually in 2007 and 2008 to discuss the need for new policies to control and promote recycling of the burgeoning amount of e-waste in our state generated from discarded TVs, computers, and other electronics. Their work was responsible for 15 additional co-sponsors of Illinois’ Electronics Waste law, adopted in 2008. In February 2009, ISEC students once again traveled to Springfield to advocate for changes in composting policies. Their work ultimately led to an improved regulatory framework that makes composting easier for businesses in the state. Students at several schools are now working on establishing compost collection on their campuses to take advantage of the law they helped to pass. In March 2009, ISEC students traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in Power Shift, a national campaign to pressure Congress to take action on climate change.
Preparing students to actively engage the public policy decision-making process is an essential component of ISEC’s work. Toward that goal, ISEC holds a fall conference each year designed to introduce students to the different arenas in which policies are discussed and adopted and how they can have a meaningful voice in these forums. Past conferences have featured then Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and State Representative Julie Hamos. The conference also includes a keynote address delivered by a speaker with considerable experience in community organizing.
In order to foster the students’ growth and continued involvement in the environmental community, ISEC provides resources on job opportunities and internships. Information on job openings and networking opportunities is presented in the ISEC newsletter, reaching almost 800 students.
ISEC seeks to be a model organization for other states. Through the achievement of these goals, we hope not only to create environmental leaders of tomorrow, but also to make a significant impact on the shape of environmental policy for our community today.