When Hanna Araza graduated in 2020, she emailed her Semester in Dialogue instructor as she reflected back on her degree. She realized that over the four years she spent at SFU, her time in the Semester was the highlight. Hanna has always been engaged in "green" issues and was admitted into the Communications program because of her love of writing. When she saw the Semester In Dialogue program was being taught on the topic of climate futures, she was interested, but felt that her past education wouldn’t be applicable as she didn’t know the detailed scientific side of climate change.
Thankfully Hanna applied anyway, and the instructors assured her that her background in Communications would be an asset for the interdisciplinary program. She was soon in a deep dive into the topic and the class began working with local climate think tanks. Hanna quickly learned the power of communication in bridging different areas of climate work.
Hanna’s cohort learned about the social and cultural aspects of environmental harm and went beyond looking at climate action to also look at climate justice. The different ways of viewing the topic contributed to the way Hanna views social issues more broadly. Now she says she uses the holistic approach to her personal and professional life.
“I check the scope of how I am viewing something to understand that everything is connected,” says Hanna, “It is all relevant to my work now.”
Hanna now works at West Coast Environmental Law in a communication engagement role. The organization attended the class’s final dialogue back when Hanna was still a student. The final dialogue of her Semester focused on was tackling climate change from a community perspective. The dialogue was called “Can’t Do It Alone” and was aimed to move community members out of an individualistic mindset when thinking about climate change.
The class also had the opportunity to work with various think tanks on policy solutions. The group Hanna was involved in worked on establishing a maritime center for climate. The centre’s purpose was to see net zero in their emissions in fossil fuel. The class worked to pitch varying funders and stakeholders in dialogue and beyond the course. The project is still ongoing. Hanna looks back on this project knowing that her classmates were involved at the very start and is eager to continue seeing the progress that is being made on it.
From learning how her degree can be applied to her passions, to gaining new perspectives on how to think about social issues, Hanna takes her learnings from Semester in Dialogue with her in her personal and professional life.
How will the Semester influence you?