Loras College student Jake Jansen (’20) has spent the summer working to find a solution to the global climate crisis.
Jansen is working with Iowa Interfaith Power & Light (IWPL) as part of a statewide interfaith college student effort to advance faith-based solutions to the climate crisis. He has joined four other student interns this summer from Central College, Luther College, and Mount Mercy University in shaping the Called to Climate Action project.
“I knew without a doubt being in Des Moines with IIPL was where I needed to spend my summer,” Jansen wrote in a blog post for IIPL said. “After two months of working with Iowa IPL and the other four interns, I couldn’t be more inspired.”
The focus of the internship is to combine technology and faith to create a path to solving climate change.
Jansen’s experience this summer has included a moment in the media spotlight, as he was able to meet Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris at Coyote Run Farm in Lacona, Iowa as she discussed climate and agriculture. Jansen’s conversation with Harris made the rounds on social media as he talked about his personal opinion on the issue.
This fall, Jansen will continue to work with the Call to Climate Action project while at Loras. He knew when he arrived on campus his first year that he wanted to be studying the environment, but he needed to find out how.
“I took two classes in sociology and politics and quickly learned environmentalism is deeply rooted in both fields. The climate crisis will not be solved without significant political and societal changes, so a background in politics and sociology has been beneficial. I decided to major in both, and I have really grown in perspective through the majors.”
Beyond the classroom, Jansen is active bringing environmental concerns to the student body. He has been involved with campus sustainability efforts and promoting Du-Earth Week each spring. In addition, he worked with fellow student Cassie Oberreuter (’20) to found the Loras Environmental Action Forum (LEAF) his sophomore year.
“I started to work as a sustainability student worker, and I knew starting a student environmental organization was something I wanted develop,” Jansen explained. “Our overarching goal was to provide an outlet for Loras students to come together around environmentalism. By the end of the second semester, LEAF had a lot of interest.”
LEAF hosts different outdoor events through the year, but the coming year will push for more activism.
“For this coming year, we really hope to keep the ball rolling. Since we’ve established the interest, we hope to focus more on the environmental advocacy piece. Our primary goal will be to engage with the presidential candidates on climate change, working with local elected officials, leading strikes, and we are currently developing a Dubuque hub for a national climate movement, called Sunrise.”
Looking beyond his final year at Loras, Jansen is looking for the best way to make his impact on climate issues.
“My ultimate aspiration is to work in local government as a sustainability director, and it would be a dream to work in Dubuque. Although the climate crisis is a global, I think local government has a lot of potential in combating the issue. I especially like the idea of working with citizens to make change for their own community, and I feel like that connection is hard to find at the state and national level. I particularly want to work in Dubuque because over the last four years it has become my home. I love the community, and I think it has the potential to be one of the more sustainable cities in the U.S. Furthermore, by developing the city’s sustainability, it can be a leader and model for other communities to follow in its footsteps.”