Interdisciplinary advocacy

Danielle Zukowski

Sometimes, our focus can become isolated in our own advocacy missions. Full investment in a passion is not inherently bad. Devotion is beautiful when you find an area of focus to be attentive of. However, when we begin to ignore the missions of others, we seem to miss a mutually beneficial opportunity.

I understand the value of time. It may seem a waste to become involved with a program to revive the arts when you value the sciences, but think of the way both the sciences and arts are uplifted through the profession of medical illustrations. The purpose of art is expanded and the understanding of anatomy is enriched. Now, if an individual remains shielded by just one passion, they may actually miss some of that own passion by not reaching out.

To realize the potential of interaction, one must try to weave two seemingly unrelated subjects. Of course, each advocacy group does not connect to another equally well as the next, but introducing interdisciplinary approaches is important to make sure a problem is holistically addressed. The problem I would like to address is the accumulation of waste. In attempting to individually reduce pollution, I sometimes keep my eyes a little too close to the target without looking at the bigger picture.

Lately, I have tried to live according to the motto “helping the people, helps the environment.” I believe uplifting a community can help in other areas as well. For example, a week before spring break, I was invited to work with elderly citizens at Meals on Wheels Atlanta. At first, I was a little hesitant to be involved in a social advocacy Alternative Breaks trip as opposed to an environmental one. I was forced to step outside of my topic of comfort. The experience of interacting with seniors outside of my grandparents reminded me of the connection between the inhabitants and the habitat. The two cannot be separated because they are so intertwined. Life doesn’t function in isolated ways therefore it seems a bit unnatural to isolate ourselves in particular activities.

In order to best uplift our passion, perhaps, we need to act in ways that reflect their natural form. To do so, I believe, we need to be more conscious of intersectionality. I am not a woman before I am bisexual. I am not bisexual before I am a woman. I am a bisexual woman. Likewise, you are your entire identities blended together; each label does not exist separately. Therefore, advocacy can, and maybe even should, be approached in an interdisciplinary manner.

Combining different values and missions is especially important in the diverse and idealistic environment of college. With hundreds of student organizations, there is so much potential. Yet, I often see events hosted by only one that receive very low attendance and find difficulty in reaching their goals. Through collaboration of individuals and groups, success may be more attainable. Imagine a band concert that also partners with international students to bring music from around the world. Or a book club working with speech-language pathology to promote literacy. Bring your abilities and your audience to interact with the abilities and audience of another in order to advocate for both groups as well as create a stronger sense of community.