Shortly after arriving at UVM in 1999, Erik joined UVM’s global justice movement—a movement sparked by massive citizen action at that summer’s Seattle WTO meetings. His passionate response was fueled by the impacts of world trade imbalances, corporate power and the extreme differences in quality of life between the south and the north.
Erik brought this passion to UVM, opposing the run-up to the 2003 Iraq War as a co-founder of Students for Global Justice. Courses related to environmental justice and environmental philosophy further engaged his interests. Following a semester abroad, for his thesis Erik seized the opportunity to co-teach a course on environmental justice with fellow student Mai Nguyen. Both students had traveled extensively and believed strongly in integrating the environmental justice framework with their world experiences. “We wanted an approach that engaged the students and ourselves with real world questions. Not issues that were abstract or historical but real problems that real people have to deal with. Problems that span the globe in understanding environmental justice.”
Following graduation, Erik worked in UVM Admissions and helped organize a staff union drive. He then moved to Seattle where he remained active as a union steward at a public hospital. His experiences in the Program and as a teacher stayed with him. Today, Erik is working towards his Masters in environmental history at UVM with plans to pursue a PhD and to teach, bringing him back full circle to his work in the Environmental Program as an organizer, scholar, and teacher.