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Courtney Pal (BS '18)

June 21, 2018

Courtney is a senior in the Human-Environmental Systems track from New Canaan, CT. She is a double-major in Earth Systems and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, with a focus in both majors on how to use land use processes to promote environmental justice. 

Courtney first became interested in environmental planning during her Earth Systems internship, where she conducted research related to a Forest Plan Revision process in Northeastern Washington. Returning to campus after that internship, Courtney learned about Stanford University’s upcoming General Use Permit, which planned out the University’s development until 2035 and would be up for approval in late 2018. Along with a group of friends, she started a student group, the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (or SCoPE 2035 for short), that advocates for affordable housing, benefits for workers, and sustainability in the General Use Permit process. Through her work with SCoPE 2035, Courtney has sought to engage administrators and students alike with a vision for what equitable land use looks like at Stanford. 

In the classroom, Courtney has similarly focused on the intersection of land use and equity. Her favorite courses include a community-engaged learning class on gentrification, in which she co-wrote a policy memo on preventing displacement in East Palo Alto, and a course called Shades of Green, in which she collaborated on a toolkit to promote culturally relevant environmental education. She also completed an Earth Systems Capstone analyzing public comments on environmental justice issues that fall outside the scope of the state's environmental review process for new developments. This past summer, she worked at California Rural Legal Assistance and assisted community organizations with interpreting and taking action on local land use issues.

Courtney’s other projects include working to make the Stanford Outdoor Center more inclusive; working with the Power Shift Network to connect young environmental organizers; and becoming a Wilderness EMT. In the future, she hopes to become an attorney specializing in environmental review or land use.