Sustainability Showcase Series To Kickoff Virtually September 11
Despite being in the middle of a global pandemic, Penn State’s Council of Sustainable Leaders (CSL) is just as committed as ever to promoting sustainability.
For the third year in a row, CSL is putting on its Sustainability Showcase Series, this time virtually, with the first speaker lined up for Friday, September 11.
This year’s themes, justice, equity, and intersectionality, are especially relevant these days given the social justice movements sweeping across the United States.
Nora Van Horn, the executive director of the Council of Sustainable Leaders, plays a large role in organizing and running the showcases each year. The series began in 2017 when Doug Goodstein, associate director for student engagement at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, along with two interns, was looking for ways to get people engaged and excited with sustainability.
Since 2017, the showcase series has only gotten bigger.
“We’ve been able to open the conversation from just environmental sustainability, which is what sustainability is often thought of,” Van Horn said. “To the other integral parts of sustainability like justice, and equity, and anti-racism.”
Van Horn, Goodstein, and Maddy Mitchell, the former executive director of CSL, picked this year’s themes during the beginning of Penn State’s remote learning period in the spring. Planning this event in the middle of a global pandemic brought a whole new slate of issues to their attention.
“We talked about firstly, adapting to COVID,” Van Horn said. “I was interested in doing that as a two-prong thing. Firstly, understanding that the showcases are going to look a little bit differently this year, obviously they’re going to take place virtually, and how do we create a community despite that?”
“But also, how do we talk about the issues that have enabled COVID to be as rampant as it is within the United States? How can we talk about the fact that COVID has disproportionally affected communities of color?” Van Horn said. “How do we talk about the fact that this has exposed health equity issues, and this has exposed a lack of consideration for people who are considered to be essential workers?”
After Van Horn, Goodstein, and Mitchell had those integral discussions, a separate conversation with the dean of the College of Education, Dean Lawless really brought these themes to life and gave them ideas for which speakers to select.
Building a sense of community during these trying times is especially important to Van Horn and the rest of the team at CSL right now.
“By exposing people to a variety of perspectives, exposing them to ideas that maybe they hadn’t thought about before, about injustices that they’ve never been able to see in this time of trauma enables us to come together as a community and find opportunities to care about people in really meaningful way,” Van Horn said.
This year the series kicks off on Friday, September 11, and runs until December 4. Registration for the series is open and can be found here.
The following speakers are set to take the virtual stage:
- September 11: Bob McKinnon, a Bellisario alum who created the “What’s Your American Dream Score?” quiz and founded GALEWiLL Design, which designs social change programs, communications, advocacy, and action.
- September 18: Zachary McKay, Penn State’s student body president. McKay will speak about the importance of voting in social justice and sustainable development.
- September 25: Dr. Gaurab Basu, an Instructor at Harvard Medical School, and the Co-Director of the Center for Health Equity Education & Advocacy there. Basu will talk about the intersection between COVID, climate change, and social inequalities.
- October 2: Dr. Jennifer Deitloff, an Associate Professor at Lock Haven University, and a co-author of “Opinion: In the wake of COVID-19, academia needs new solutions to ensure gender equity.” She will be talking about COVID, DEI, and Academia.
- October 9: Dr. Daniel Morales-Doyle, an assistant professor of science education and coordinator of the licensure strand of the MEd Science Education program at the University of Illinois. Morales-Doyle has done extensive work on justice-centered science pedagogy and using science education for social change.
- October 16: Karen Washington, the co-owner and a farmer at Rise and Root Farm and a co-founder of Black Urban Growers. Washington will be talking about how “food justice” is more than just growing food and feeding people.
- October 23: Dr. Susan Russell, an associate professor in Penn State’s School of Theatre, as part of our collaboration with the College of Arts and Architecture Sustainability Symposium. Dr. Russell will be talking about “sustaining the self.”
- October 30: Tai Simpson, a Citizen of the Nimiipuu Nation, Storyteller, Activist/Organizer. Tai, who has an extensive background in indigenous peoples’ rights and anti-racism, will discuss decolonizing social justice.
- November` 6: Dr. Sophia McClennen, a Penn State Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature and the founding director of Penn State’s Center for Global Studies, will speak about Tactics for Nonviolent Activism.
- November 13: Dr. Rachel Gross, an assistant professor of history at the University of Colorado Denver, will be talking about consumerism, outdoor gear, and political identity.
- December 4: Lorah Steichen & Ashik Siddique, who both work at the Institute for Policy Studies, will discuss the intersection between militarization and global warming.
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