June 14, 2024 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Joanna Regan’s passion for environmental issues began at age 13 when she delivered a speech on chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and their impact on the ozone layer. “This early exposure to the real-world effects of human activity on the environment sparked a deep interest in understanding and addressing environmental challenges,” Regan recalls.

Graduating from the School of Social Work at King’s, Regan says the courses she took at King’s “significantly impacted my passion for environmental social work and the critical role that strong communities play in fostering resilience against environmental challenges.”

Regan has introduced several initiatives that have improved sustainability practices on campus and empowered students to continue advocating for environmental justice in their future social work careers, according to Tosha Densky, Social Work Programs Liaison at the School of Social Work.

Regan explains that by integrating sustainability into social work programs, King’s can prepare future social workers to address the complex intersection of environmental and social issues. This interdisciplinary approach helps students understand how environmental degradation disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, in turn fostering a commitment to environmental justice.

“The implementation of holistic and collaborative education throughout liberal arts programs not only raises awareness about the importance of sustainability but can empower us to implement programs that build resilient communities,” says Regan.

Regan “has made a lasting positive impact on campus through her passionate advocacy for environmental change action and education. Joanna’s tireless work and dedication have left an indelible mark within the School of Social Work, fostering a culture of environmental responsibility and advocacy,” says Densky.

Regan organized and facilitated the Social Work Environmental Equity Awareness Initiative, bringing together Social Work students and faculty to raise awareness of environmental justice issues and share ideas on how to educate others about initiating change.

“Her leadership and vision galvanized the social work community, creating a cohesive group committed to making a difference,” says Densky.

Regan also produced a newsletter titled “Social Work Environmental Initiatives,” which included articles about environmental sustainability on King's campus and issues surrounding environmental social work and equity, such as eco-anxiety and eco-grief. The newsletter described social workers' responsibilities when addressing climate disaster responses in the community. The newsletter was distributed on OWL to all Social Work students and, through word of mouth, reached a wider audience of students and faculty from other disciplines at King’s.

“This newsletter not only educated her peers but also inspired many to join the movement and take action in their daily lives,” says Densky.

After the first three issues were produced, the King’s Social Work Constitution was changed to include an environmental representative whose duties would include writing a newsletter each month.

One of Regan’s most significant achievements, Densky says, was her successful effort to secure an environmental sustainability representative on both the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) student associations. Her efforts ensured environmental concerns would be consistently addressed in student governance and that sustainability would remain a priority in both social work programs.

Regan conducted thorough research on social work and environmental sustainability initiatives at King’s, compiling data and information to illustrate how social work skills can promote environmental sustainability and equity. She engaged with the associations’ presidents and members to emphasize the importance of having an environmental sustainability representative and establishing frameworks to sustain this work beyond her time at King’s.

“I could not have pursued this without Tosha Densky. Tosha was my sounding board and was an incredible resource as well as an incredible mentor,” says Regan.

Regan has been accepted into the Master of Social Policy program at Acadia University. She attributes this achievement to King’s giving her an understanding of how social work can empower communities to build resilience against environmental challenges and her passion for creating sustainable, equitable solutions.

She believes the program will equip her with the knowledge of how her learned social work principles can be applied to advocate for environmental justice. “This dual focus on environmental sustainability and community resilience continues to drive my passion and efforts in making a positive impact,” says Regan.