Vidya Muthupillai (she/her) is a second-year student at the George Washington University majoring in Political Science with a focus on Public Policy and International Affairs with a concentration in International Environmental Studies. After taking courses with GW’s Department of Sustainability, she is also considering adding a minor in sustainability to further explore the intersectionalities of environmental, social, and economic justice.
Vidya hails from the great(ish) state of Texas and was raised in the Greater Houston Area, where she experienced first-hand the impacts of climate change, narratives, and solutions (or lack thereof). After growing up experiencing countless climate disasters – droughts, hurricanes, back-to-back floods, winter storms and blackouts – she pursued climate activism throughout high school and served as one of the Co-General Coordinators of Houston Youth Climate Strike. Her organizing with fellow youth climate activists in Houston spurred her interest in storytelling to help reframe the climate narrative of Houston, a city reckoning with being both the fossil fuel capital of the United States and on the front lines of the climate crisis. Along with peers in Houston Youth Climate Strike, she worked with the City of Houston on the Houston Climate Action Plan to establish a Youth Working Group to assist in implementing climate action, lobbied local and state officials for climate legislation, organized youth-led climate protests and strikes, coordinated with a national network of organizers on fossil fuel divestment, and published multiple op-eds in the Houston Chronicle on climate action. Her biggest accomplishment is having co-written an op-ed with Bill McKibben on fossil fuel divestment for The Nation, and she is still slightly starstruck that it happened.
As she pursues higher education, Vidya hopes to advance her understanding of nuances in climate action and climate solutions. Her experience on the front lines of climate change and interest in equity in climate action guide her current study of sustainability, where she hopes to learn more about sustainable development and the use of climate solutions to promote social and economic justice.
Vidya is inspired by climate innovation, Indigenous sustainability practices, and most of all, the persistence of ordinary peoples on the front lines of driving change. She hopes to one day visit all the U.S. National Parks and have a cat.