Sustainability Q&A: Joe Johnston

Joe Johnston, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Gonzaga.

What is your position and department?

I am entering my second year as an assistant professor in the department of sociology and criminal justice.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability means the creation and maintenance of a just and equitable society, in which social, environmental, and economic issues are fundamentally intertwined.

For instance, my current research is focused on urban educational inequalities in the United States. I try to understand how some metropolitan areas have created sustainable urban school districts in which: (1) schools and classrooms are racially and socioeconomically integrated, (2) a combination of environmentally-informed transportation options are instituted, and (3) all schools are equitably funded. Such districts contribute to sustaining their communities, in contrast to the far more isolated and unequal K-12 schooling across much of the U.S.

How have you been involved in promoting sustainability on campus?

I took part in the inaugural Cataldo Project in May 2016, which was a two-day workshop with faculty colleagues from across the university, led by Dr. Brian Henning. We focused on issues of sustainability in our course designs, at Gonzaga generally, and in the larger Spokane community more broadly. I look forward to students investigating some new social scientific datasets focused on issues of sustainability in my “statistics for social science” course in spring 2017.

What are some things you do in your personal life to live sustainably?

My central focus over the last year has been transportation: I am fortunate to live close enough to bike or walk to campus each day, while also enjoying views of our beautiful Spokane River. In the rest of my life, I try to limit car travel to a minimum.

How could Gonzaga continue to improve its sustainability efforts?

We need to make sure that sustainability is central to as many conversations that happen at Gonzaga as possible. Sustainability should not simply be relegated to discussions about recycling, or energy consumption, but needs to be a core part of every short or long-term decision made going forward.

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