Statement from Director Benjamin Houlton

To the UC Davis Muir Institute Community:

In 1997, the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment was launched on a simple idea: that diversity is our strength and our strength is our diversity. This principle is codified in our core belief ‘…in human diversity and its power to unlock innovation.’ The recent events in our society reveal just how far we need to go to achieve our goals.

The Muir Institute stands in solidarity with the Black community and all People of Color. We are dedicated to righting the wrongs of society and environmental injustice, creating an equitable world that values diversity in all its forms. It is clear that a society wrought with racism, bigotry, and division is not one that aligns with the nature of reality:  interconnectedness, unity, diversity, and people and planet as one.

We mourn with the Black community and recognize the amazing spirit of our Black leaders. We vow to adhere to our principle of justice and diversity. And, we reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and the empowerment of People of Color through our education, outreach and research programs, consistent with Chancellor May’s statement for the campus.

In the words of the early leader of the Black Consciousness movement Steve Biko “People must not give into hardships of life. People must have a hope.”

Our hardship is clear in George Floyd’s agonizing call for breath. Our hope is that we can work together through non-violence to eradicate racism in all its forms. Anything less is beneath our namesake, beneath our institution. 


Benjamin Z. Houlton, PhD
Director, John Muir Institute of the Environment
“Discover. Research. Solve.”
Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow
Global Environmental Studies
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
University of California – Davis

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