Hold onto your pink slips – Van Jones is back. It was announced this week that President Obama’s former green jobs czar (who left the White House almost as soon as he’d arrived) will be emerging from his six-month departure from the limelight and joining Princeton University as a visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Jones is interested in the place where race relations, socio-economic demographics, and sustainability issues overlap under the umbrella term ‘environmental justice’. In other words, he thinks there’s no good reason why wealthy people should be the only ones pushing for and benefiting from environmental initiatives. Americans of all demographics, he’s been telling audiences and readers around the country for years, can and must play a role in the transition to clean energy and sustainable living. And all must reap the immediate and long term rewards of that transition, too.
Jones is also interested helping the US recover from recession by creating lots of new clean energy green jobs – green collar jobs, as he calls them – and pushed hard for George Dubya’s Green Jobs Act of 2007. This green collar jobs agenda is right in line with Jones' ideas about environmental justice. His book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, outlines how we can bring every American into the fold while shooting two birds – failing economy and failing environment – with one stone.
In his new academic collaboration with Princeton’s African American Studies Department and Woodrow Wilson School, Jones will be joining ranks with the likes of Cornel West and Michael Oppenheimer, respectively. The partnership spells innovation for Jones, already listed among Time Magazine’s top 100 influential people of 2009. Onwards and upwards.