Physics Major’s Summer Internships Focus on Environmental Activism

Posted August 3rd, 2015 at 4:03 pm.

Credit: Hollis Bennett

Credit: Hollis Bennett

She dreams of teaching physics—a subject she loves for its power “to describe the world around us.”

But Carol Bowe ’17 has more on her mind than e = mc2. As a high school student, she was deeply engaged with environmental education activities, and as a future high school teacher, she is adamant about continuing that work.

“I would like to provide more than just an education in physics,” she explains. “Most high school students have little to no knowledge about the environment because nobody is teaching them. I want to incorporate sustainability education into my physics lessons, and I think that the two subjects are so closely linked that I can do it.”

This summer, Bowe set out to gain a deeper understanding of environmental issues during a Nashville-based internship with two local nonprofits—Radnor to River and Tennessee Parks and Greenways (TennGreen). But, now, she explains, “I wasn’t just standing in a classroom talking about the issues like I was in high school but I feel like I was really doing something about them.”

Radnor to River is a grass-roots effort to protect a 200-acre piece of land that developers have been eyeing for some years now. Bowe spent much of her summer drumming up attendance for the planning commission meeting slated to review development plans and helping persuade candidates to pledge that they will hold developers to current environmental standards. At the same time, she collaborated with TennGreen colleagues to organize a coalition-building event that brought together disparate environmental groups working along the corridor west of Nashville.

Bowe’s work in Nashville brought her full circle back to one of her greatest interests: “When I came to Bryn Mawr,” she says, “I began focusing on my other passion, physics, and the work I did in high school got put off. This summer brought me back to the cause that I care so deeply about.”

Plus, the experience opened her eyes to the hard work of activism. “There is a lot more to conservation work than I ever knew…so many different people work on the same project, and it can still take a long time to actually complete that project. It takes a lot of patience and dedication to do this work.”

To learn more about what Bryn Mawr students are up to this summer, visit the Summer Internship Blog.

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