From the president

Lauren Funke is a Junior Environmental Studies major at the College of St. Benedict. She is passionate about environmental issues, particularly their disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. Lauren currently works as a Student Naturalist at Outdoor University where she leads field trips and events focused on helping others learn about the environment and history of the land. Last summer, Lauren interned with the Lower Phalen Creek project where her efforts were focused on teaching the history of the land and implementing restorative justice practices with local indigenous communities. Lauren plans to continue to work for environmental causes and plans to pursue a career that allows her to advocate for marginalized groups and individuals.

Brian Bruess


College of Saint Benedict


Personal Statement

I first became interested in advocating for racial equality when I was twelve and my mom told me about racist voting laws. Once I was a teenager, I learned about mass incarceration and when George Floyd was murdered, I made signs and protested in the Twin Cities. In college this interest led me to become an environmental studies major where I learn about the racial inequalities tied to climate change and disaster recovery. I came to realize that toxic waste is most frequently dumped in BIPOC or poorer communities and they are also often neglected by insurance companies and evacuation procedures in severe storms. I took this work with me when I attended the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference in Egypt this fall and conducted my own research on loss and damage from climate change. I interviewed four people from countries most vulnerable to climate change to understand what they demand from the Global North as compensation. I used this research to publish a column for Project Optimist and spark these conversations with people in my home community and I continue to advocate for policies that bring justice to marginalized communities.

Lauren Funke

Environmental Studies

College of Saint Benedict