CSUS student brings together sustainability science and art

Gianna Méndez Germán pursues their studies in Environmental Studies and Sustainability, exploring best practices in global sustainability and incorporating art and science to address environmental issues in the Dominican Republic.

Name: Gianna Méndez Germán

Hometown: Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Major: Environmental Studies and Sustainability 

Expected graduation date: Spring 2023

Why did you choose Environmental Studies and Sustainability?

I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the social aspect of the different environmental issues and challenges we face. I was, and still am, very interested in learning and applying different global sustainability perspectives to better inform practices and policies in my home country. I feel that the Environmental Studies and Sustainability major is the perfect balance between learning about the technical environmental foundations regarding these, but also incorporating the social aspect. 

Who or what inspired your interest in sustainability?

I have always been fascinated by my surroundings. Whether it was watching outside the car window for cows and goats on our way to the beach, deeding birds in the park, or seeing different communities in the different regions of the Dominican Republic, I always loved drawing connections and imagining different stories about nature. As I started learning about the climate crisis and how different environmental challenges were impacting the places and people I called home, the concept of sustainability started to become more and more relevant. I started to realize that the idea of reimagining and transforming current systems wasn't that far off from the same games I used to play during roadtrips and visits to my favorite natural areas. 

What has been one of your best experiences within your major so far?

I am very interested in incorporating art and environmental sustainability, so this past Spring Semester I had the opportunity to develop an art contest as part of my project under the Beal Scholars program, where I focused on habitat restoration. This allowed me to reach out to get hands-on experience in the garden, but also reach out to different groups and departments helping me gain a multidisciplinary perspective on this. 

What do you want others to know about this major?

There are so many opportunities to connect it with other fields! I love how it overlaps with so many areas I’m interested in. The professors are so helpful and are interested in helping you figure out your academic and professional path with you, as well as sharing resources and opportunities with you.

Any thoughts or advice for current students?

Don’t limit yourself from reaching out. If you find someone that does something you find interesting, shoot your shot. There are so many faculty members, but also students, that are willing to help you make the best out of your time here. Also, don’t limit yourself to what you already think you like, there are so many clubs and people with cool interests that can open you up to areas that you wouldn’t imagine you’d like so much. Take the step!

What are your future plans?

As I wrap up a contest I am planning on wrapping going to a study abroad in Italy this Summer to learn more about urban sustainability and food systems. Beyond that, I am simply ‘vibing’. I want to do more things related to art and storytelling with an environmental and climate justice perspective, specifically on environmental resilience, focused on communities in the Dominican Republic. I would like to transition into a more global perspective and dive into international relations focused on climate justice.

What’s your favorite thing about MSU?

The trees, the squirrels, and the memes.  

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