There’s much to be outraged about, Burke said. She encouraged the graduating class to remain outraged and passionate about what’s happening in the world. But at the same time, she cautioned students to be strategic about their outrage, because it consumes a lot of energy.
She urged them to find humility in moments of anger, to recognize that their perspectives might not always be correct, to show respect to those with whom they disagree, and to nurture discussion rather than engaging in revenge.
“It is a time of outrage and is a time when the world needs your leadership,” she said. “It needs your leadership, your scholarship, and your continuing discretion about where to aim your outrage.
“We put our faith in you. You are among the most brilliant, passionate, strategic and energetic individuals I have ever known. You will be leaders, as are our other 4,900 alumni all over the world — making a difference in NGOs, state and national and international agencies, and universities, and companies, and local communities. Today we launch you upon the world, another 156 environmental leaders and scholars to move the world forward.”
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The School’s 117th
graduating class, which received their diplomas under a tent on the sun-splashed Kroon courtyard, included 12 Ph.D. recipients, who will now tackle a wide range of environmental challenges, from installing solar plants on U.S. public lands and verifying the legality of forest product markets, to improving salt marsh ecosystem function and evaluating the link between air pollution and birth outcomes.
Also receiving diplomas were 156 master’s students. Among those were 34 joint-degree students, including the first group of students to receive a combination of Master of Environmental Management and Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Tsinghua University in China.