Michael Yoo views the world through a lens of intersectionality and uses his insight into the interconnected relationship between environmental justice and social justice to advocate for positive change.
A sophomore at the University of Oregon, Yoo is double-majoring in environmental studies and planning, public policy, and management, and was among the first cohort of students to enroll in the new sustainable business minor. His experience at the University of Oregon continues to supplement the meaningful work he is doing.
Yoo’s enthusiasm for the environment sparked in elementary school, when he was first introduced to the concept of sustainability through an after-school program. Since then, he’s been fueling that passion through education, experiential learning opportunities, and collaboration.
His dedicated involvement within the Center for Sustainable Business Practices has provided him the platform to further develop professional leadership skills and grow stronger as an environmental steward. Yoo also serves as the vice president of membership for the undergraduate chapter of Net Impact, an international student-run nonprofit organization that implements sustainable business practices in its activities.
How has your involvement in Net Impact played a role in your sustainability education journey?
Joining Net Impact was, without a doubt, one of the best decisions that I’ve made so far in college. In joining, I surrounded myself with compassionate, like-minded students who share a vision for integrating and advocating for sustainable strategies in business models. Through networking events, case competitions, and site visits, I learned valuable networking skills and was introduced to the applications of sustainability in the business world through experiential learning. Most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of making mistakes and viewing those as opportunities for critical self-reflection and growth in character. Also, all the members mean the world to me and I see them as family both on and off campus, so that says a lot, too.
Why did you enroll in the sustainable business minor and how is your major being amplified by the minor?
While learning about the real-world applications of sustainability these past few terms, I understood policy and business to be the two most significant avenues for change regarding environmental issues in supplement to advocacy and activism. I feel that policy and business are so tightly intertwined, it’s increasingly important to study one in tandem with the other, especially when it comes to issues around the environment and sustainability.
How do you see the sustainable business minor elevating your career opportunities after you graduate?
This minor allows me to take interdisciplinary courses while also providing me with access to networking opportunities that may overlap with my future goals.
I just have a feeling that the minor—and the passionate individuals I’m making connections with through it—will be a springboard for a more active future.
Why do you think learning about sustainability is critical to student education?
I acknowledge that definitions and applications of “sustainability” are inherently cloudy and complex in a globalized world driven by histories of colonialism, imperialism, and social injustices. Sustainability reaches across all disciplines, serving as an intersectional framework tying together issues of environmental stewardship, social justice, cultural relativism, and economic activity. This makes it imperative that—regardless of their academic interests—students who care about justice and equity learn about the complex underpinnings of sustainability to work toward a better future.
—Terri Chrestenson, Class of 2022