By Kathryn Doorey

“What kind of person do you want to become?”

This was the booming question that guest speaker Alan Richards posed for students at his lecture Tuesday, Dec. 4 titled, “Today’s Youth, and Global Crises in Justice and Nature.”

The seminar was the beginning of the Colloquium Series for the Global Information Internship Program (GIIP), a student-run program that focuses on youth activism involving an array of national and international issues.

Richards told his audience that “when one acts, not only do you affect the world, but you are also simultaneously creating yourself. Who we are is contingent, is produced and it is a constantly revised story.”

For nearly nine years, GIIP has been informing students by finding funding, aiding travel and encouraging in-depth study of international issues such as the global climate crisis, poverty, sustainable living, and wanton inter-country violence.

Paul Lubeck, GIIP founder and director, said, “We have over 100 students a year that come through the program. What we want to create is a whole new generation of info-savvy social activists and social entrepreneurs.”

According to Lubeck, the program also works actively with today’s technology, using various media outlets and forums, like web design.

“We use these as a tool to advocate social justice, women’s empowerment, sustainable environments, peace and conflict resolution, and education and social enterprise,” Lubeck said.

Lubeck added that through the initiative of GIIP, the sociology department has recently approved a minor called Global Information and Social Enterprise Studies. He said, “It’s evident that at UCSC, there is a lot of organized change.”

During the conference, Richards gave students grounds to be alarmed at the world’s current state, but suggested ways one can effectively make a difference.

Chiara Cabiglio, first-year UC Santa Cruz student said, “[Richards] really opened my eyes to how I need to personally handle [the world’s current state]. I really want to make a difference in the world, not only with global warming, but with human rights, the Darfur genocide and animal rights. All I can do is my part of it, but I know its not going to be a sudden process.”

Richards urged students to say no to the culture of denial, what he dubs the “ostrich program.” Richards said that the answer to the world’s problems “starts with everyone. We need everybody, especially all talents. Because everything we are doing now has to be redesigned and rethought,” he said. “We need a shift in the way we look at things.”

_Want to get involved with GIIP? Visit http://giip.ucsc.edu_