Because a better world is everyone’s business. Mason’s Business for a Better World Center (B4BW) is dedicated to this vision. Committed to helping the planet, B4BW is preparing students and faculty to be changemakers within society. Impact Fellows, a flagship B4BW initiative is focused on this central mission. The students selected participate in collaborative cohorts, partake in experiential learning, and receive mentorship and networking opportunities—all with the goal of helping them become problem solvers, addressing the key issues facing our planet. Ji Eun Kim, who was recently hired as the student communications assistant for Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth (ISE), is one such Impact Fellow. Aimed at connecting Mason with individuals, businesses, communities, and institutions fighting to address pressing topics with sustainable solutions, ISE shares the B4BW mindset of making an impact in support of a more just, prosperous, and sustainable world.
Drawn to Mason and its commitment to creating amazing opportunities for all, first-year business marketing student, Kim will be using her expertise to help promote ISE’s many activities and programs. Serving as communications assistant, she will be responsible for managing the institute’s website, graphic design, and social media accounts. She will also be handling correspondence between ISE and its many stakeholders-professors, partners, and affiliates—affording her the chance to increase engagement and impact for the Institute. As Kim explains it, ISE “attempts to put research and scholarship more hand-in-hand to support a prosperous and sustainable world, and so we are trying to connect different parts of the Mason community with policymakers, businesses, and organizations which will allow us to address these pressing issues and challenges that are coming up in our community.”
In particular, ISE is focused on efforts that support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals such as affordable housing, clean water, hunger, quality education, and good health. And ideally, partnerships come together that create programs allowing for students to be directly involved and have opportunities to develop professionally and grow as community members. One example is a new Summer Fellowship Program being developed by ISE for graduate students. These funded positions will allow those selected to work directly with leading individuals and organizations such as the Sierra Club, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions.
When asked what she was most looking forward to learning during her time with ISE, Kim shared, “I think to broaden my perspective and my view because that was my whole purpose of coming to Mason, being able to expand beyond myself and push beyond my comfort level and what I’m comfortable working with. So, I think being able to meet different people and experience different experiences helps so that we can not only better the world but have a good time along the way.”
Learn more about Impact Fellow Ji Eun Kim
Where: Born in Korea, raised in Chicago
Degree: 1st year student studying business marketing
B4BW: 1st year Impact Fellow
What drew you to George Mason?
“I really wanted a change of environment and my aunt suggested Mason, as she also attended here, so I’ve always had family around Virginia. I heard about Mason’s great business program and that Mason provides opportunities for its students.”
Why pursue a business marketing degree?
“I think the great thing about business is that it is so multifaceted and versatile. You obviously get to meet a lot of different people from a lot of different industries, and so you get to work on your social networking skills just being able to put yourself out there, which is something that’s different compared to other fields where you focus on the same group of people or the same demographic. Business really gives you an opportunity to go beyond yourself and your community. For me personally, as a Korean American, I think business has a lot of opportunities abroad, such as Korea, where you can build those connections there.”
Can you tell us more about that?
“With my new communications assistant role in the Institute for a Sustainable Earth, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of individuals who are in academia or they are professors or faculty members. Recently I met with an individual who was asking if I could do some work in Korea where I can meet individuals regarding how we can make the NOVA area more sustainable. So, I think building those bridges where I’m from, here in Virginia, across the globe in Korea is a great opportunity for not only me, but [for] everyone in the community to grow.”
How would you go about doing that? In what areas would you like to see change?
“Just the way we operate right now. It’s obviously alright, right now, but the way we can just derive different ideas from different cultures, different countries, different areas of the United States is a way that we can simply grow in different areas of our infrastructure. For example, making Dulles Airport more sustainable and more environmentally friendly. Or by deriving different mental health resources that other countries have been working with and have been successful with.”
What techniques does Korea use that we don’t have and please explain types of change that you would like to see implemented here?
“I think a lot of these changes are implemented on the government level and I know it’s a little more complicated because we have the state government and then the federal government, but for example, Korea is good about recycling. They have these systems in place where it is super convenient for you to recycle and it is mandatory by law where you separate food from things that are recyclable versus things you simply throw out. It’s not that the entire United States is lacking on this… there are areas like Boston that are really good about this… but it would be really interesting and awesome if NOVA could follow and join on the bandwagon.”
What do you think is preventing this from happening so far?
“I believe that obviously there’s a lot of people that live in the United States, so it is definitely hard to implement these widespread systems when a lot of people are against change, and understandably so, because we’ve been doing the same thing for so many years, but I think that’s really up to the responsibility of the state government, local governments that are trying to implement this into their communities. And as more communities are joining along then it will be easier to create that change versus the top down where the state government is just kind of barking orders, you know, ‘hey do this’ versus people in your community being like ‘Hey, why don’t we do this together right’.”
Being born in Korea and raised in the United States you’ve been raised in two cultures. What ideas would you have to help spread awareness and to hopefully encourage people to help make such changes?
“I think creating awareness is always a great help. Awareness not only through different organizations, but even the school itself. I think Mason does do a great job at that, but if we can all take a step further, for example, our dining halls right now, we create a lot of food waste, yet as far as I know we don’t really do anything about that. So, if we can create steps to educate others within our classrooms, within our homes, then we can start to grow that awareness and have that willingness to create these systematic changes… I looked at food waste on college campuses in my communications class first semester and I feel like it’s very achievable for an institution like Mason to implement. Especially with Mason’s climate action plan and pledge program right now aiming to decrease their carbon footprint. Other ideas students have been talking about were more clean energy, sustainable energy, not only on campus but other parts in town. Just growing towards a system where we can survive past just 100 years more than that because now, at this rate, our planet, it’s dying. And if we don’t do anything about it, then there won’t be a future for our children and for future generations to come.”
Charish Bishop is a Graduate Student in the Folklore Department and Graduate Research Assistant for the Business for a Better World Center.