Liberal arts colleges provide endless opportunities to grow and learn.

As a Loras College student, I have memorized and held close to my heart this quote from American theologian and writer Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Our world’s deepest hunger is a response to the climate crisis. The human-caused phenomenon of climate change is completely altering the Earth’s natural systems, causing immense suffering across the planet.

While it can be extremely troubling to think about this current and future suffering inflicted by the existential crisis, I still have found my “deep gladness” or joy by being a climate action leader. I believe I am called to a life of climate action.

In the spring, I was honored to receive a Loras College Valder Scholarship, which helps fund social justice internships. I knew I wanted to engage in climate change solutions, but I had no idea what organization or where in the country that would be.

Trusting the Spirit would guide me, just a week before the deadline, I received an email from the director of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, Matt Russell, who invited me to join a team of five Iowa college interns in planning a conference centered around the theme “Called to Climate Action.”

After a summer of working in Des Moines with Iowa IPL, I couldn’t be more inspired.

Although more devastating events related to the climate crisis have augmented this summer — the warmest June on record, a report that the last six months were the wettest ever, or even the release of a study predicting the end of humanity by 2050 — I still remain hopeful.

We are lost without hope.

Early on in the internship, Matt mentioned something that really resonated with me. He said, “The experts say we have the technology to solve climate change. We don’t have to invent something unthinkable. It’s completely solvable; we just have to go make the change.”

Not only do we have the needed technology, but we also have faith, which is arguably just as important.

We summer interns developed the framework for the conference “Called to Climate Action, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 26, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in the Cedar Rapids suburb of Hiawatha, Iowa.

All aspects of the project were rooted in our faith. When considering the climate crisis, it’s easy to become hopeless. However, acting through faith instills a sense of optimism that we have the ability to solve this emergency, which humanity created.

Our “Called to Climate Action” project has come together, and it is because of the passion of Iowa college students. I think my increased passion for climate action has been the greatest gift of the summer. Yes, I have learned so much, and it was a pretty sweet deal to spend a summer in Iowa’s capital city.

Overall, I couldn’t be more excited to take action in Dubuque for my senior year at Loras.

In fact, a group of students is planning a Dubuque Climate Strike and Rally on Friday, Sept. 27. All are welcome to meet at 11:30 a.m. at Alta Vista Street and Loras Boulevard. We will march to Washington Park, and then attend a rally from noon to 1 p.m. to bring attention to this crucial issue.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and I am so lucky to spend a summer and hopefully a career in my “deep gladness” helping alleviate “the world’s greatest hunger.”

Jansen grew up in Elkader, Iowa. He is a senior at Loras College, where he double-majors in politics and sociology and double-minors in Catholic studies and peace and justice. His email address is jacob.jansen@loras.edu.

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