December 28, 2020 by Dr. G
I live and work in the first Fair Trade Town in the United States. It brings a big smile to my face every time I say that. I had no idea when I moved here from Colorado to begin my faculty position at Penn State Brandywine what an impact that would have on my teaching and everyday life.
At first, I honestly did not know what the words “fair trade” meant. I have degrees in geology and oceanography, so I’ve always had the knowledge and awareness of the physical environment. As I learned about the key elements of fair trade – a living wage, sustainability, social responsibility, etc. – this all tied in naturally to my passion for volunteering and having the opportunity to make a difference for others in places beyond my local community.
I learned about the Fair Trade logo and started shopping for Fair Trade food items. I looked for the stores in Media that sell Fair Trade items. Then came the next step – bringing Fair Trade to my campus.
And as I teach introductory-level Earth science courses for non-science majors, I’m always looking for the local-to-global societal connections in the course content I engage students with. It has been easy to insert Fair Trade content into my courses, but I decided in Spring 2012 to teach an environmental studies senior seminar focusing on Fair Trade. The idea was to get a group of students together to explore if our campus wanted to become a Fair Trade University. I could not have imagined the incredible impact it had on my students to learn about Fair Trade, and what a supportive community exists within Fair Trade Media and Fair Trade Universities. My students not only embraced all-things Fair Trade, but they moved forward with going through all the steps in having Penn State Brandywine declared as a Fair Trade University! I could not have been prouder of these Fair Trade Trailblazers on campus and what they accomplished! I think the most rewarding part for me is that the passion for Fair Trade continues in the lives of students once they graduate, and the momentum for Fair Trade awareness and programming keeps expanding on campus. (you can continue to learn about their history and follow their Fair Trade adventures on the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade website)
Fast-forward to December 2020, when out of the blue I receive an email from the Fair Trade Media Committee that I’ve been selected to Fair Trade my holidays! Robin Kauffman stopped by with some amazing and fun items that we dove in to right away! My husband is enjoying the Equal Exchange Fair Trade tea, while we decided to use the chocolate to create some chocolate chocolate-chip brownies with frosting made from the hot cocoa (all Fair Trade chocolate, of course, and we even used our Fair Trade sugar).
Thank you, Media Fair Trade, for all that you do to support our local-to-global community with awareness and opportunities for how we can each make a difference for our planet and its citizens when it comes to economics, education, and equity.