Sustainability as a Social Justice Practice

Authored by: Georgeann Moss, Dallas County Community College District
Date: January 10, 2020

How can we solve climate change and create a cleaner, healthier and safer world that works for everyone? And how can we inspire and encourage everyone in the community can be a part of solving these issues? These were the main topics of the presentations and conversations at the Dallas County Community College District’s 9th Annual Sustainability Summit. The Summit was hosted by Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas on Nov. 8th and attended by more than 300 people. The Summit was a great success. Participant evaluations indicated that 95% percent of attendees would encourage their friends to attend the conference again next year.

Eastfield was the first DCCCD college to pilot the event nine years ago. It was so successful that the event now rotates annually to one of DCCCD’s seven colleges. Each year, the Summit is produced by an ad hoc college committee that includes key district-level staff.

The committee is generally led by an executive or administrator and supported by representatives from all areas of the college that are touched by the event. We have developed a living document called “Sustainability Planning Tips and Guidelines” that is updated every year. This eliminates the need for the colleges to “reinvent the wheel” but still allows them to be creative and work within their own college’s culture and structure.

DCCCD produces the annual conference as a public service. This year’s theme, “Sustainability as a Social Justice Practice: Developing Resilient Strategies” was chosen by Katy Launius, Dean of Student Success and Wellness, Eastfield’s Title IX Coordinator and the executive producer of the event.

Katy is passionate about social justice and has channeled her tremendous talent, energy, and expertise into the creation of Eastfield’s Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. So, it was no surprise that the theme she chose supported the center’s work.

Ian Garrett, an associate professor at York University in Toronto, delivered the keynote address, which gave many excellent examples of how to use the visual and performing arts to raise awareness, change minds and inspire action. He addressed the intersections of sustainability, social justice, and resiliency through the lens of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. (Garrett received his undergraduate degree from TRACS member Rice University!)

DCCCD also uses and supports the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (17 SDGs) as a teaching and learning framework. (To see what the goals are and what various organizations in Dallas County are doing to support these goals, visit:

Of course, DCCCD places special emphasis on Goal #4 (quality education). However, we have programming that actively supports 14 of the 17 goals.

The annual summit is open to the public as well and students and employees of DCCCD. This year, we specifically targeted the following groups:

  • Corporate and business managers
  • Business owners
  • Facilities personnel
  • Social justice advocates, teachers and administrators

There were five breakout tracks with four sessions each. Speakers addressed:

  • facilities management
  • institutionalizing sustainability
  • resource and energy efficiency
  • social equity
  • teaching sustainability

There was no charge for this event. However, participants were required to register by Nov. 4 to be eligible for the complimentary lunch.

The Office of Sustainability Outreach and Initiatives provides the hosting college with $5,000 and we work collaboratively with DCCCD’s Foundation to raise the remaining funding needed to cover costs.

With the help of the DCCCD Foundation, we are becoming much better at identifying and cultivating sponsors for the event.

If you would like to be notified of future events, please join our mailing list by filling out the online form at the bottom of this web page:


Other Social Justice Activities

In 2018, DCCCD began exploring the social justice aspects of sustainability by hosting several events designed to spark conversations and ideas among students and employees.  The first was a screening of the award-winning documentary, “Walking While Black,” which made its Dallas premiere at El Centro College. It was followed by a series of social justice speakers at various events throughout the district. This past summer, DCCCD’s Office of Sustainability hosted a “Cost of Poverty Experience” to help employees better understand and address the challenges faced by its low-income students who face heartbreaking financial choices.

DCCCD is committed to providing a safe space to learn from each other and to discuss the many topics related to the 17 SDGs, especially peace, justice, and strong Institutions. We offer students and community members opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

Georgeann Moss is the Executive Administrator of Sustainability. She co-founded the DCCCD Sustainability Team in 2007. Her email address is

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