An app that tracks your carbon footprint. A scorecard for the sustainability of clothing companies. An outreach campaign to excite teens about the Green New Deal. These are among the projects being pursued at UCSB’s new Environmental Leadership Incubator (ELI), a place where big dreams to better the world are nurtured into reality.
Environmental Studies professor Simone Pulver built and now heads ELI, which just wrapped up its one-quarter pilot phase and will officially kick off this fall as a four-unit, year-long course open to any sophomore or junior. Ten weeks of lectures will lead into two quarters of independent work under the guidance of advisors.
“There is so much energy and passion and creativity here, particularly among undergrads,” Pulver told The Current, UCSB’s public affairs site. But before ELI, there was no way for them to pursue their ideas. “These are the years when you navigate what could be and what can be, that tension between big dreams and reality,” she said. “It’s a time to take risks, to be bold, to try something new and different and to seize that energy of, ‘Hey, everything is still possible. How can I turn it into action?’”
Pulver has secured funding to run ELI for three years from donors Richard Landers, Terilynn Langsev, Greti Croft, and Chris Fletcher, “without whom ELI would not exist,” Pulver said. She’s open to any project that advances environmental causes, whether in policy, business, technology, social justice, or activism. “Ideally, I want it all,” she said. Long-term, she wants to establish ELI as a centerpiece for undergrad environmental leadership at UCSB, then help replicate it at other universities. “And how great would that be?”