Fellow Story

Goodrich SDSU spotlight: where wetlands protection and social justice intersect

Editor’s note: the following story originally appeared in SDSU News, by Michael Klitzing on May 11, 2023. 

It’s natural to wonder how an environmental professional working at a coastal research reserve would find herself immersed in the Community-Based Block (CBB), San Diego State University’s multicultural community counseling and social justice education master’s program.

To Kristen Goodrich —  coastal training program coordinator at the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve and a proud CBBer — the connection is clear as day. 

“We’re focused on wetlands protection and restoration, but we're doing so in this big urban setting surrounded by the cities of Tijuana, Imperial Beach and San Diego,” Goodrich said. “Our approaches need to think a lot about how we engage the community in developing solutions.”

Goodrich already holds a Ph.D. from UC Irvine in social ecology, which explores the relationship between people and their environments. 

She’s now in her 14th year at the Tijuana River reserve — one of 30 sites in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System. In her position, she provides coastal decision-makers with science-based information related to environmental management issues.

“My work is about environmental protection, but at the same time we have to think about the human dimension,” Goodrich explains. “At the research reserve, we like to advance co-benefits: how can we protect places, but at the same time protect people? How can we be in more of a reciprocal relationship?”

That’s what got her interested in the CBB program, which focuses heavily on social justice and cultural competence. For most CBB students, the ultimate goal is a career as a licensed professional clinical counselor; for Goodrich, it’s also about applying the same principles to her current field. 

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