Sustainability Fair Focuses on Environmental and Climate Justice

October 16, 2020
By: Kristen O'Reilly

Environmental and Climate Justice is the theme for the 2020 Sustainability Fair, which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Thursday, Oct. 22, in a virtual format. The popular annual event includes both live and pre-recorded teach-ins by Worcester State faculty and staff, as well as online access to several exhibitors and organizations.

“In the past, we’ve had more than 1,500 people participate in the Sustainability Fair. We knew early on that we weren’t going to be able to pull it off in person this year,” says Sustainability Coordinator Steve Bandarra. “Just like everyone, we’ve had to adapt to the current circumstances.”

Although the theme was selected by the committee last year, environmental and climate justice are even more appropriate topics for today’s world, Bandarra says. Studies show that pollution causing industries have historically been placed in or near neighborhoods that typically have a higher population of black, indigenous, and other people of color.

Each day will feature a live teach-in:

  • On Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 11:30 a.m., Assistant Professor Matthew Palm, Ph.D., from Urban Studies will present “From Green Gentrification to Inclusive Development,” which will explore strategies for making sustainable transit infrastructure more equitable and socially just.
  • On Thursday, Oct. 22, at 11:30 a.m., Henry Theriault, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic affairs, will present “Denial Crisis 2020: The Five-Headed Hydra of Climate Denial, COVID Denial, Racism Denial, Violence Against Women Denial, and Genocide Denial.”

Each day will also end with a relaxing live session: On Wednesday at 2 p.m., Julie Glovin, a counselor in the Counseling Services Department, will speak about mindfulness as a resiliency skill in “The Sustainable Mind,” and on Thursday, at 2 p.m., Chef Matt from Chartwells will present “Live Virtual Teaching Kitchen.”

“We decided to do this because many of us are very stressed about environmental and racial justice problems  so taking care of ourselves while we advocate for these important issues is critical,” says Bandarra.

Pre-recorded teach-ins by faculty across all disciplines will be available to view at any time during six hours of each day. [See the full schedule here: https://www.worcester.edu/Sustainability-Food-Fair/]

“A benefit to a virtual format is that participants don’t have to miss any of the talks, and you can fit them into your day when convenient. It gives you time to catch all of them,” says Bandarra.

He recommends to start by viewing a couple of short videos: “An Introduction to Environmental Justice,” because they are “easy to consume and produced by national organizations,” he says. They can be found in the pre-recorded teach-in section.

The exhibit area is a new experience with echoes of familiarity. Participants can create their own avatar and sit down at “tables” just like they would in the Student Center Exhibit Area. They can talk to representatives from an organization via a video connection, or view posted materials.

“I really want to thank the faculty for their support in making the Sustainability Fair a success, both in teaching and encouraging their students to participate,” says Bandarra, who noted additional

appreciation for members of the Sustainability Fair Committee, the Urban Action Institute, Chartwells, and Facilities.

All members of the Worcester State community are invited, including alumni. Registration is required here: https://worcester-state.heysummit.com/#. Participants can preregister at any time, but because it takes about 5-10 minutes to process, Bandarra recommends not waiting until the last minute.

More information can be found here: https://www.worcester.edu/Sustainability-Food-Fair/

 

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