Madi Vorva ’17 has been an environmental activist since the sixth grade, when she and a fellow Girl Scout started a national campaign to pressure the organization to commit to using deforestation-free palm oil in their cookies. However, until this spring, when she joined a clinic trip to Malaysia and Singapore with the 5C initiative EnviroLab Asia, she had never actually visited the region she was working to save.
“This was the first time I’ve been on the ground with these issues, so it was a really meaningful moment for me, and I really appreciated the chance to finally connect my advocacy with my school,” says Vorva.
EnviroLab Asia, begun last fall with a Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, allows participants from The Claremont Colleges to study big environmental issues like water quality, forest health, social justice and deforestation of rainforests to produce palm oil.
“One of the reasons EnviroLab Asia is important is that it has helped us understand the global nature of local environmental issues,” says Professor of Environmental Analysis Char Miller. “It’s a way for us to understand our complicity in these issues and the ramifications.”
Among the 5C students and faculty who accompanied Vorva on the trip were Ki’amber Thompson ’18 and professors Marc Los Huertos (environmental analysis), Zayn Kassam (religious studies), Stephen Marks (economics), Wallace Meyer (biology) and James Taylor (theatre).