2018 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar Grace Nosek is interested in how law can be used to protect climate change science, particularly in an environment of doubt created by companies focused on protecting profit. A former Fulbright Fellow, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Law at UBC.
“I am relentlessly practical when it comes to climate change. Scientists have said we have three years to peak global greenhouse gas emissions or we risk climate catastrophe. I carry that timeline in my head and in my heart every day, and I think about what I can do to make it better.”
Outside of her scholarship, Nosek spends a lot of time volunteering on climate projects, including the Climate Hub, a new initiative started by a group of students under the UBC Sustainability Collective to work on environmental justice issues. UBC President Santa J. Ono recently pledged $25,000 to support the creation of the hub.
Nosek is also committed to finding ways of disseminate what she’s learnt. “I have the privilege of learning all of these amazing things and I want to make sure it’s accessible to a wider audience,” she said. “I know that maybe 300 or 400 people will read a Law Review article that I write, if I’m lucky. We just need to be reaching so many more people on climate change and making them feel hopeful and that this is their fight.”
She is the author of a series of young adult eco-fantasy books, the Ava of the Gaia Series, that incorporates important issues like climate change into compelling storytelling. She is also launching a Hopeful Climate podcast to re-center the story away from the threat and the doom, and refocus it around the people doing the work in the climate fight.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
I wanted to learn more about how we got where we are on climate change, and how law might be able to shift where we’re going. And then I wanted to be able to share that story as broadly as possible. I thought graduate school would equip me with the time, knowledge, support, and tools to do that.
Why did you decide to study at UBC?
I’m originally from the east coast of the United States, so I’m pretty far from home. After doing a Fulbright fellowship with the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria I fell in love with this coast and with the community of people working for climate justice along the coast. Through that experience, I met some of the wonderful professors I now work with at UBC, and getting a graduate degree here seemed like a natural next step.
What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?
UBC is the ideal place to pursue my graduate research because my research draws heavily on the work of my supervisor, Joel Bakan, professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law. My research project is uniquely situated at the intersection of environmental, corporate, and freedom of expression jurisprudence, all of which are areas of expertise for the Allard School of Law faculty.
What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?
There have been many wonderful surprises. Something that has brought a lot of joy and meaning to life in Vancouver is organizing around climate justice with the UBC Sustainability Collective. Working with undergraduate and graduate students from across disciplines to advance climate action at UBC and beyond has been profoundly energizing. After months of work and thousands of hours of preparation, the Collective received seed funding from President Ono to create a Climate Hub at UBC. The Hub will connect and amplify climate initiatives within the university and in the broader community.
What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?
I say hello to the ocean every day, rain or shine. As I mentioned above, I’ve never met a dance party I didn’t want to join. And I write. I just finished the last book in the Ava of the Gaia trilogy—hopeful climate fantasy for readers of all ages!
What advice do you have for new graduate students?
My general approach to grad school has been to find community, be kind to myself and others, and never say no to a dance party.