Arts & Life

Distributing knowledge to impact the world

From a young age, Lily House-Peters knew that she wanted to work in a field related to the environment because she grew up loving the environment and animals.

House-Peters is an associate professor in the Department of Geography Affiliated Faculty as part of the Environmental Science & Policy (ESP) program at Long Beach State.

House-Peters grew up in Los Angeles, Calif. Later; she moved to the Santa Monica Mountains in Topanga State Park, Calif. It was there that she owned a goat, cats and chickens. She has an affinity for animals and is sensitive to things related to the environment.

“When I got to college, I kind of knew how to go to classes and get good grades,” House-Peters said. “But I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and so [I needed] to find direction as a college student.”

She was not a first-generation student but sometimes felt like she was. House-Peters’s father was a clarinet player while in college. After he graduated, he was a professional musician in several orchestras and later worked as a music critic. Her mother did not go to college and worked different jobs.

House-Peters said that she mostly lived with her mother. Her mother pushed her to go to college but did not know how to help her. Therefore, she had to navigate the college experience on her own.

She wanted to work in a government-related job that worked in environmental policies. At George Washington University, she started as a political science major. She soon realized she did not like the major or the classes.

Then she found out about geography. As a student from a working-class family, she has to work to pay for college. She worked as an assistant teacher for middle school and elementary kids and realized she had a passion for teaching.

As a 21-year-old with a bachelor’s degree, she became a teacher through the AmeriCorps Program. The program placed her as a high school teacher and taught social studies and Spanish. After 2 years, she realized she did not want to teach high school, so she went back to school to get her master’s degree.

She received her master’s degree in geography from Portland State University. It was only when she started her thesis that she was introduced to research. House-Peters lived near the Mississippi River and became interested in water resources.

She found an advisor who did water research and was interested in climate change. For her thesis, they studied climate change models and how those affected water resources in the future.

Once House-Peters graduated, her advisor told her to consider getting a doctorate degree. House-Peters decided to attend the University of Arizona.

For her dissertation, she did research in Sonora, Mexico. There, she focused on issues surrounding the problematic use of mines which used a lot of water resources and was a major contributor to pollution. This also required House-Peters to analyze the way it affected communities around the mines, especially agricultural workers who needed water for work and a healthy environment.

After receiving her doctorate degree, House-Peters started applying to universities to work as a professor, and she got hired at CSULB.

As an instructor, she tries to keep in mind that not everyone knows what they are doing in college. She likes mentoring students in ways such as helping with their class schedule, class requirements and finding resources on campus.

House-Peters also advises students to take advantage of the resources the university offers, stating that students should not be afraid to ask for help.

Shawn Kunipo is a geography undergraduate student from CSULB who has taken classes with House-Peters. He said he enjoyed her teaching methods and that she always allows students to develop their own voices.

“In her classes I have taken, she mixes videos that are relevant to what we are learning that week,” Kunipo said. “ She also does service-learning in one of her classes, which helped [in] connecting what we were learning in class to the real world.”

House-Peters enjoys teaching students at CSULB. She is interested in seeing how passionate students want to improve the environment and how they are linked to the environment and its future.

House-Peters hopes her contribution to the environment will help people turn their attention around and think about their consumption.

“In general, we consume more stuff than we really need,” House-Peters said. “[The goal] is for us as humans to consume less, to consume more intentionally and not deprive each other of things.”

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