Listening for a Change has honored the Center’s own Claudia Luke with the Connie Codding Humanist Award of 2022.
Listening for a Change recognized Luke for her work turning education into action by cultivating programs and initiatives to teach students and community the skills needed to solve environmental challenges in the North Bay.
“I am deeply honored by this award,” wrote Luke in her acceptance speech. “The United Nations calls for immediate transformational change across all sectors of society. We look around to see who is going to save us. But it’s just us. We are the ones who are here at this moment in time. We are the ones asked to bring about this transformational change.”
Since coming to Sonoma State University in 2007, Luke has combined the inspirational learning experiences at SSU’s three preserves with programs that engage faculty and students in finding solutions to North Bay challenges.
While Luke is grateful to be honored in this way, she credits the entire Center staff for the accomplishments of the past 15 years.
Luke’s successes at the Center provide examples of practical and meaningful ways of re-envisioning higher education and its role in preparing students for a changing world. This re-imagining cultivated by Luke and Center staff helps students in all disciplines become professional problem solvers and turn their academic journey into environmental action.
“Over the last 15 years, we have refocused our programs on the most pressing needs for a healthy and resilient future,” Luke said. “We have created new programs that break down silos to identify emerging issues, increase academic resources on critical issues, teach knowledge and skills needed to find answers, and reconnect people from all backgrounds to the ecosystems that support them.”
During Luke’s tenure as director, the Center has reached 10,000 SSU students, 10,000 community members, and 20,000 elementary school students. It has also supported more than 500 community projects with faculty and students across 40 disciplines.
She said her work is not done.
“There is so much more we can do,” said Luke. “We need to give every student the knowledge, skills and opportunity to contribute to sustainable and resilient solutions; give every leader access to academic support for their work on climate challenges, and energize every citizen to use their skills to help find solutions.”
Luke earned her PhD in Zoology from UC Berkeley in 1989. Since 1993, she has worked for the University of California and California State University field stations and marine laboratories and has built extensive regional research-management collaborations.
The Connie Codding Humanist Award honors those who highlight the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek rational ways of solving human problems. Other awardees over the last 16 years include: Gaye LeBaron, Lisa Carreño, Les Adler, Francisco H. Vazquez, Helga Lemke, Diann Kitamura, Gail Andrade Ahlas, Naomi Fuchs, Christopher Paige, and Mario & Elizabeth Uribe.