HomeNewsEarth Day 2023: IonE community shares reasons for hope

Earth Day 2023: IonE community shares reasons for hope

As we continue to reflect and celebrate the work that our IonE community has accomplished and are actively working on, we recognize that the topic of climate change isn’t always the most uplifting. It is difficult at times to take a step back and recognize how far we have come and the positive change that individuals, groups, and organizations are making in this space.

To continue to celebrate the days leading up to Earth Day, we share with you more responses from the IonE community with a focus of positive outlook. We asked individuals to answer the question: What gives you hope for the future?


Xinyi Qian (she/her) headshotToday’s youth give me the biggest hope for the future. Our young people are willing to engage in highly complex societal issues, well versed in technological tools, and able to leverage a variety of communication channels. They are open-minded to nuanced views and eager to work together to tackle challenges that no single entity can take on by itself. The planet needs their passion, collaborative spirit, and eagerness for change. What also gives me hope is that scholars and public agencies have started to integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge in climate-related work. This is a good start to strive for equity and inclusion in the climate adaptation process. Additionally, a bigger share of the population are now participating in outdoor recreation, partly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators, families, non-profit organizations, and public agencies are working to provide children with opportunities to experience nature-based activities. A stronger connection with nature fosters environmental stewardship – a collective action essential to planetary health.

Xinyi Qian (she/her) is an IonE Associate and Director of the Tourism Center on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.


Suby Sharma (she/her) headshotSystems thinking and interdisciplinary research have created hope for sustainability and climate resilience by providing a more comprehensive understanding of the complex interactions between natural and human systems. These approaches recognize that environmental problems are not isolated but interconnected with social, economic, and political factors. By adopting a systems perspective, researchers can identify the root causes of sustainability challenges and develop more effective solutions that consider the interconnections between different systems. Moreover, interdisciplinary research fosters collaboration and communication across various fields and disciplines, leading to a better understanding of the complexity of environmental problems and the development of more effective strategies to address them. Ultimately, adopting systems thinking and interdisciplinary research has created hope that we can build a more sustainable and resilient future for ourselves and the planet.

Dr. Suby Sharma (she/her) is a Postdoctoral scholar in Climate Resilience as part of IonE’s Knowledge Initiatives team.


Michael Zarbock (he/him) headshotClimate change and communicating about it quickly became a passion of mine as I have spent more time working for IonE. The reasons why it has become such a passion are also what give me hope for the future.

Passionate people. The individuals on my team, the people I’ve met in office, and the IonE affiliates I’ve interviewed have all talked about their careers and fields so passionately that it has ignited in me a want to learn more about climate change and action. These people are our current present, and without their passion and excitement for what they do, I wouldn’t be as influenced.

Our current students, a.k.a. our future leaders. As I’ve sat in student-activated climate change sessions on campus, it quickly became clear how ready our current students are to take action and participate in making change. They have diverse perspectives, inclusive mindsets, and creative thinking that will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible, and I’m excited to see how they push climate action forward.

Michael Zarbock (he/him) is a Communications and Editorial Assistant at IonE. He is completing his final year of undergraduate studies in Strategic Communications.


Dalila Hussein (she/her) headshotPassion and practicality, both coming hand in hand. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by passionate humans who bring their passion forward with practice in their work, research, and daily lives. Our society and the problems that exacerbate it are highly complex and thinking of those wicked problems in totality can really be disheartening to me. However, I do find refuge and much hope in learning about people’s passions and how they bring it forward in their work. 

Dalila Hussein (she/her) is a Graduate Leader at IonE and a Master of Development Practice student in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.


Apoorva Joshi (she/her) headshotThe increased focus on creating interdisciplinary, equitable, and scalable innovations and solutions to complex socio-environmental problems. Also how engaged the younger generations seem in building awareness and leading by example when it comes to adopting sustainable behaviors. I’m also hoping that with more research on misinformation and navigating digital spaces, that we will be able to advance media and science literacy in society, creating better pathways for the success of science and environmental communication. The kind of research I get to do at IonE makes me ever so hopeful about collaborative impactful work for our future.

Dr. Apoorva Joshi (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Associate in Decision Support as part of IonE’s Knowledge Initiative’s team.


Jessica Hellmann kicked off this week with a blog post – From the Director: the next chapter

Our first set of responses focused on the question – what was the most exciting thing to happen in your field this past year?

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