Student Collaborative Projects

Emmanuel Dagher, Global Social Transformation


First Carbon Neutral Community

Collaboration with Empowerment Institute, David Gershon,
University of California, Santa Barbara students, and Isla Vista Community Members

“In the Spring quarter of 2019, Gershon co-lead a course at UCSB titled “The World in 2050: Sustainable Development and its Alternatives”* in which upper-division students enacted Cool Block. Cool Block is a community program that gives “block leaders” a toolkit to inspire climate change action on their blocks and in their larger neighborhoods.

The purpose of Cool Block is to set feasible, obtainable goals block by block to bring together the power of bottom up collective change. Cool Block groups meet every other week, depending on their personal schedules, and work together to reduce their carbon footprints, become more disaster resilient, and build community livability.

How will Isla Vista become the first carbon neutral community in just five short years? Cities make up nearly 70 percent of global carbon emissions, and 70 percent of those emissions come from residents’ lifestyle choices.

If you can empower residents to adopt low-carbon lifestyles, you can activate the whole system of bottom up and top down change.

Isla Vista houses a unique population largely composed of UCSB students and faculty, making it a socially aware, environmentally conscious, and highly educated area. The organizing and brain power of this community is like no other, and student groups and faculty members are already coming together to be the first place to take the steps that the world needs to see.”

Global Social Transformation

David Gershon co-lead a course at UCSB titled:
* “The World in 2050: Sustainable Development and its Alternatives”

“The main focus of this course is to focus our sociological and ecological imaginations on creating the kind of society that might weather the climate storm that is coming and actually come out on the other side (or more realistically in the midst of it as it deepens) with societies far more suited to human well-being and thriving than the ones we presently have all around the world.

Along the way we will encounter such ideas as sustainable development, degrowth, transition towns, resilience, ecosocialism, buen vivir, and a slew of other alternatives to the present system, and we will read some of the best writing on these and other topics by their inventors, critics, activists, and others, including essays, fiction, and films, with a startlingly innovative collective project that you will work on throughout the quarter!”


Emmanuel Dagher, Global Social Transformation