When Goldsmiths, University of London was looking for a new leader who would reorient its fight against climate change, it looked past those who were conventionally qualified, such as environmental scientists.
The British university chose someone with more intuitive insights: a fashion expert. Frances Corner assumed the role of warden at the British university this month, a position equivalent to vice chancellor. And the newcomer wasted little time exerting her full authority to respond to the “climate emergency.”
She banned beef from Goldsmiths’ campus and enacted the equivalent of a 12-cent tax on water bottles and single-use plastic cups….According to Corner’s website, she previously led the London College of Fashion, currently chairs the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes, and was named to the Business of Fashion 500.
But Corner says her passion is using fashion “as an agent for innovation and change,” and it’s evident in her environmentalist streak, which advocates for government control of the economy to save the planet.
Corner has retweeted Greta Thunberg, a teenage Swedish climate activist, as well as the United Nations, the Environmental Audit Committee and other contemporary voices and bodies that call for institutional, mass-scale action against climate change.
“Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words,” Corner said in Goldsmiths’ announcement of the beef ban and bottle tax. “I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history,” which is why Goldsmiths is “willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use.”
The university has been silent on how else the menu is changing under Corner’s direction. If it continues to serve lamb, which is a bigger part of Muslim diets, and dairy products such as cheese and ice cream, Goldsmiths remains complicit in the most polluting farm outputs in England.