UC Berkeley community discusses intergenerational climate change

Maya Valluru/Staff

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Campus undergraduates and members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, discussed intergenerational climate change at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse on Friday.

The event, hosted by OLLI and Darren Zook, a campus professor of political science and global studies, was intended to foster conversation across generations. Together, they addressed the role of government and corporations in aggravating climate change, personal implications of climate change and ways to further communication between generations.

“When it comes to understanding the intergenerational divide on climate change, it seems like the old underestimate the young, while the young underestimate the old,” Susan Hoffman, a director for OLLI, said.

Before attending the event, participants were asked to fill out a 20-question survey where they answered questions related to climate change and what can be done to mitigate its effects.

Hoffman said survey results found that everyone, regardless of age, believed that corporations and governments need to take more aggressive steps to address climate change, while different ages disagreed about what individuals could do.

During the event, Zook asked undergraduates and OLLI members to speak about the ways the discussion may have changed their perspective on the age divide.

Victor Tiglao, a campus junior majoring in political science, said conflict rarely, if ever, arose from different perspectives across the age divide.

“Actually, one of the biggest things we agreed on was the lesson of kindness — being able to talk to people who think differently than you in a way that is humble and kind and understanding,” Tiglao said. “We believe that’s the best way to change people’s minds.”

After taking many of Zook’s classes, campus graduate student Andrew Estrada Phuong graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict studies. Estrada Phuong has stayed in contact with Zook and said some of his own research is inspired by Zook’s dialogues on diversity, leading him to attend Friday’s event.

In an attempt to engage students in discussions that look past societal divisions, many of Zook’s classes — including a freshman seminar —  concentrate on diversity and inclusion.

Zook said he believes discussions about inclusivity often focus on race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, but the topic of ageism is often forgotten.

“A lot of undergraduate students don’t get a lot of opportunities to sit down with someone from the opposite generation and just talk,” Zook said. “Ageism goes in all directions —  it’s ageist to assume old people don’t know what they’re talking about versus people who are of an older generation looking at millennials and thinking they’re all useless snowflakes.”

Contact Olivia Buccieri at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @obuccieri_dc‏.

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