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EMEAC co-director awarded University of Michigan Visiting Social Activist Fellowship

Diana Copeland

Diana Copeland

By Victoria Goff
Special to the Michigan Citizen

East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) co-director Diana Copeland is the recipient of the University of Michigan’s Visiting Social Activist Fellowship.

Awarded each year by the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women (CEW), the fellowship work focuses on building the capacity and effectiveness of social activists working on issues important to women.

This is accomplished by giving the activist two months in Ann Arbor with access to university resources and support to work on a project that would not be possible under the activist’s usual working circumstances.

For her project in September 2013, Copeland will develop popular education curricula for youth organizations, high school classrooms and other audiences interested in addressing urban environmental issues through a feminist lens.

“EMEAC is an organization that promotes and develops leadership of women and people of color so it seems appropriate to develop a curricula model and dialogue space,” says Copeland.

Since 2007, EMEAC has partnered with Detroit Public Schools and the University of Michigan to run the Greener Schools program, an interdisciplinary arts and environmental education program that uses participatory design activities to engage high school students in redesigning their school yards and elements inside the schools.

The program improves the school environment while giving students a sense of ownership and purpose in designing and developing the initiative.

Building on this educational model, Copeland’s new curricula will include video interviews of Detroit women and teens, reflecting on how place has shaped their view of self and why having a strong sense of womanism is important.

“I greatly appreciate having the time and space that this fellowship will allow me to think about how to link how we do our work with women in a leadership role to how it fits into our roots and education around the environmental justice movement,” she said.

Copeland received a Master of Science degree in environmental justice from the University of Michigan in 2004, where she was lead coordinator of the Environmental Justice and Global Climate Change International Conference. She became executive director of EMEAC in 2005.

With EMEAC as one of three local sponsoring organizations, Copeland was a lead organizer when Detroit hosted over 18,000 citizen activists attending the 2010 United States Social Forum.

EMEAC’s mission is to empower the Detroit community to protect, preserve and value the land, air and water. EMEAC builds community power through environmental justice education, youth development and collaborative relationship building.

For more information about EMEAC’s programs or Diana Copeland’s work, contact Lottie Spady at  lottie@emeac.org. or 313.556.1702 ext. 701.

For more information about the Visiting Social Activist Program, visit www.cew.umich.edu/action/tfvssa or contact Beth Sullivan, CEW senior associate for Advocacy and Policy, at bsullivan@umich.edu or 734.764.6343.

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