To the SEFS Community,

Greetings on the new academic quarter and the New Year. We all have hopes for improvements in the pandemic over this year, though we also know that we will continue working mostly remotely through the current academic year. I remain impressed with the work of our students, faculty, and staff in the midst of current challenges and restrictions and, as I know the University and College are doing, place the highest importance on our collective health and safety through this time.

As we emerge from the last political campaign, I know that has been an added stressor for all of us. I regret that truth has been one of its big casualties, and note with particular concern the rise and increasing effectiveness of misinformation in our public and political lives. As we strive collectively to improve and apply science-based understandings of environmental systems and problems, I believe this makes our work together more important than ever. It also further motivates our efforts to continue and deepen collaborative science and engineering work that engages diverse communities.

In addition to learning how to adapt our educational and research activities under new Covid-19 restrictions, we have also been learning a good deal over the last year about the real challenges of BIPOC and LGBTQIA students, faculty, and staff face within our own community. We owe those who have come forward to express those challenges a debt of gratitude for their courage in doing so, and for helping us understand the disproportionate impacts they suffer in this time of political and public health emergency. We clearly have work to do within SEFS, have only gotten a start on it, and recognize that this work requires sustained action. Importantly, we learned that our work needs to take on the systems in our School that exclude, cause harm, and impede success. I grateful to the broad participation of faculty, staff, and students who have been working on these critical issues while so many are also balancing the extra work of teaching and working online and caregiving responsibilities.

Stay healthy and continue to be good to yourselves, fellow Huskies.

Dan Brown