The Roosevelt Institute for American Studies (RIAS) is pleased to offer the third annual
“Sustainable Freedoms Essay Prize” to a UCR student for the best essay on an issue that
connects environmental issues to human rights. The essay may consist of a Senior Research
Project or a term paper written for a specific UCR course.
The three Roosevelts who helped shape the course of American and world history in the 20th
century—Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor—left strong legacies on issues concerning
conservationism; environmental protection; national parks and forests; and human rights. In
the political ideology of the Roosevelts, environmental issues were inextricably linked to
human rights. Sustainable natural resources, they argued, provide the very foundations for
collective welfare, peace, and democracy.
This view has only grown in importance in the present day. The United Nations Office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights now explicitly links environment issues to human
rights, warning that “unsustainable, wasteful growth patterns increase environmental
degradation and accelerate climate change, generating effects that harm health, access to
water and sanitation, food, housing and land rights, and endanger life.” The UN calls upon
local and national governments around the world to implement environmental policies that
“respect, protect and fulfil human rights, guaranteeing those affected access to information,
decision-making, public participation and remedies.”
The RIAS invites UCR students to explore the interconnections between environmental
sustainability and human rights in any facet, from the free speech and legal protections of
scientists and environmental activists; to the participation of disenfranchised communities in
political decision-making regarding (ab)use of land and water; to the healthcare rights of
people impacted by environmental waste. The specific topic is completely open and may deal
with either historical or contemporary issues in any region or time period. The “environment”
may be broadly defined and include lived spaces.
Essays for consideration should be submitted to your instructor at UCR by 1 May 2023. UCR will then
nominate 5 finalists to be evaluated by a jury at the RIAS. The finalists should be submitted to
RIAS at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 9 June 2023. Besides the respect of both the
UCR and the RIAS, the winner will also receive a prize of €500 as well as a certificate, to be
awarded at a special ceremony (date to be announced in accordance with the winner).
For more information, please contact your UCR instructor or the RIAS
Alisa Adams, the winner of the 2021 Essay Prize, receiving her certificate