Letter of Intent
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: 
Letter of Intent: 

Rethinking Prosperity is an initiative of the UW Center for Communication and Civic Engagement to identify and communicate economic models that work for more people, within planetary boundaries.  It emerged from a seminar of undergraduate seniors in Communication. Rethinking Prosperity, in partnership with the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies, is pleased to present the Next System Teach-in on April 25th, 2016 at Kane Hall. We are requesting $1,000 from the Campus Sustainability Fund to support this pivotal event to launch a campus conversation on how environmental goals can be achieved through an economic system with sustainability at its core.


The Teach-in is an acknowledgement that we are dependent on an unsustainable and polluting fossil fuel economy. Our governments and jobs rely on unrealistic expectations about economic growth driven by over-consumption. Most parties and politicians continue to promote failed economic models based on growth at any cost, while externalizing social and environmental burdens. Much of what passes for growth is unproductive speculation, leading to extravagant consumption by a wealthy few at the expense of a healthy environment for majorities in the global south and increasing numbers in the north. Due to the costs of this model, many societies now face the prospect of long-term natural resource deterioration. It is clear that the current system doesn’t work for the planet, nor does it support our efforts for a sustainable campus and UW community, and we need to work toward something better.


Unfortunately, sustainability is often interpreted to mean practices that are merely more environmentally sound than others, without regard to absolute ecological tipping points already underway. While vital to alleviating real, immediate issues, without changing the underlying structures and ideas driving environmental exploitation we will win some battles, yet ultimately losing the fight for a sustainable campus and a sustainable planet. In order to build a world that puts people, communities and the planet first, we need to imagine what’s possible. That’s what this teach-in is all about. We invite the Campus Sustainability Fund to help us build a learning community to create solutions and build support for an economic and political system that can restore compatibility with the environment.


The University of Washington Next System Teach-In is part of a nationwide call to action to increase collaboration among teachers, learners, and movements for systemic change.  Currently student groups and academic departments working at the level of systems change are off isolated, in silos. In hosting the Teach-In, our purpose is not just to bring students, alumni, faculty, and members of the broader community together, but also to catalyze a campus network on the themes of Rethinking Prosperity and the necessity to address the economic and political systems, which shape and constrain environmental behavior and impacts. Through this event and the connections that follow, students and student groups, faculty, and community partners working systems change for environmental outcomes will be able to more easily connect and build momentum and awareness.  Our specific goals for the teach-in are to:

  • Start a conversation about moving beyond the current political stalemate to envisioning a new future for our community and the planet.
  • Build a learning community for realigning the economy, environment, and democracy so that all three systems work better for people and the planet.
  • Dig deep and focus on generating ideas about the next system, and how to create environmental change.

Students, faculty, alumni and community partners will be represented on the panels at the Next System Teach-In, which is targeted at a campus audience. Students will lead the moderation of small group discussions that follow each panel. The discussion surrounding these critical questions will be recorded graphically during the event and shared with the campus community.  The panels and discussions will address questions that will expose students to new ideas about sustainable and environmentally conscious policy choice, such as:

  • How can the economy be equitable and environmentally sustainable?
  • What local solutions can become models in a global system?
  • What would real democracy look like?
  • Can capitalism be fixed?
  • How can we move beyond the “Economy vs. Environment” and “Democracy for the Few?”

We are partnering with a variety of departments on campus to make the event happen, including a broad range of RSOs—from the Foster School of Business’ Net Impact to the Association of Black Social Workers to the Radical Public Health organization—representing the diversity and interests of the UW student body.  We also received support from Political Science, Communication, History, Social Work, Geography, and Law, Societies & Justice.


Our hope is that the Next System Teach-in particularly the creation of the Rethinking Prosperity campus network will move the conversation about sustainability on campus, move student activism, and move the curriculum toward systemic issues of the environment, and in the end, help position students, faculty and staff to meet our sustainability goals.


The Next System Teach-in has received matching support from key departments. Support from the Campus Sustainability Fund is critical to ensuring the event has sufficient budget capacity to meet the needs of a successful event:

Expenses Amount CSF Request
Room Rental $864 $800
Food and Beverages $800  
Advertising + Materials $250  
Honorariums $250  
Graphic recording $300 $200
Total $2,450 $1,000


Contact Information
Primary Contact First & Last Name: 
Caterina Rost
Full Proposal
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