Mr. Ward’s Civics and Current Events class had the unique opportunity to have a member of Congress as their guest speaker on January 5, 2022. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) Zoomed into Room 105 to answer students’ questions about how he entered politics, working in the Legislative branch, and specific policies in a “town hall” forum.
Rep. Huffman is the Chair of the United States House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife, so students approached him with questions on environmental policy, including what it is like being an advocate for climate change in Congress. Huffman was very open and straightforward with the students, and told them that, between the devastating tornadoes in Kentucky and the intensity of the wildfires in California and other parts of the West Coast, there is a dawning realization even from climate skeptics that climate change is real. Unfortunately, some people have gone from denial directly to resignation. He emphasized the urgency of moving along talks and policies on climate action, calling it “an existential matter.” “Winning slowly is losing when it comes to something like climate change.”
He also gave the students some advice on how to be better-informed citizens, encouraging them to engage with information outside of their comfort zones, and to seek reputable sources for information. He admitted that not enough is being done to have both major parties collaborate in Congress, but emphasized that the two-party system is very important. Huffman sees engaging with information outside individual echo chambers as the key to helping bridge divides in an increasingly partisan political climate. And, for students in a class on civics and current events, breaking out of personal or classroom echo chambers is necessary to better understand civic life.
Ursuline is grateful to Representative Huffman for his time and thoughtful responses.