Root seeks to connect student leaders and activists in tackling the world’s most pressing challenges: the climate crisis, social injustices, and social inequities. If you would like to learn about social justice, the environment, and the ways they intersect on campus, in neighboring communities, and around the world, Root is the place for you to become a change-agent on campus and beyond.

Root centers building community around issues of identity and activism as a way to find meaning, connection, and fun during what is often the stressful transition to a new environment. By the end of the Root program, students will have begun joining and creating a  community that challenges, supports and encourages personal and intellectual growth, climate and social action, and restorative practice. 

In previous years, some of the highlights of the program included:

  • Working and learning at Soul Fire Farm, an Afro-Indigenous community farm focused on food sovereignty and justice, holistic community building, and sustainable living
  • Connecting with off-campus partners such as Wild Soul River which focuses on abolition, herbal medicine, and social justice
  • Exploring Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, where we learn about urban farming and environmental justice through hands-on activities
  • Learning about Haudenosaunee activism, life, culture, and history  at the Iroquois Museum during the Annual Iroquois Festival
  • Visiting and learning about The Spruces, a former mobile home community decimated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and transformed into a park as  a local site of environmental injustice
  • Community building with fun activities from bonfire s’mores and songs to hilarious games of mafia
  • Deepening understanding of our identities and how they relate to one’s environment with discussions, workshops, and experiential activities about the historical trajectory of activism at Williams
  • Follow Root’s Instagram to learn more!

This program is collaboratively run by the Davis Center (part of the Office for Institutional Diversity Equity and Inclusion) and the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives. The Office for Institutional Diversity Equity and Inclusion works to assess and improve campus climate, helps lead the development and implementation of campus policies, procedures and practices impacting students, faculty and staff, develops and supports efforts to recruit, retain and develop a diverse faculty, staff and student body, facilitates discussions around diversity, equity, and inclusion in the community, and resolves conflicts and grievances. The Davis Center, formerly the Multicultural Center, facilitates campus conversation on race, gender, sexual orientation, and class with the objective of creating a more equitable and inclusive campus.  The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is the campus sustainability center whose work recognizes the value of the intersection of sustainability with social justice, environmental justice, equity and inclusion. Recognizing the natural overlap of their work, in 2014 the Davis Center and the Zilkha Center partnered to design Root. Root is an EphVenture designed to raise questions and generate discussions about who we are, where we live and how we interact with the various environments we occupy. We use ‘environment’ to refer to rural and urban, natural and constructed,  and sociocultural spaces that shape our interactions with each other and with the world.

Root alumni have gone on to serve the campus as leaders of MinCo and environmental student groups, Community Engagement Fellows with the Davis Center and interns with the Zilkha Center.