Academic Theme 2022
Climate Justice, Climate Action
The 2022–2023 academic theme of “Climate Justice, Climate Action” is a continuation and extension of the 2021–2022 theme, “Climate Reckonings, Climate Justice.” By continuing to use Climate as an organizing concept, we expect faculty who integrated climate into their classes can reuse those resources and lessons learned in courses this coming academic year. We also hope that other faculty who discovered connections with the theme can now use this opportunity to associate some portion of their courses to the revised theme.
By highlighting “Action,” we are explicitly inviting the Whitman community to focus on ways in which we can make an impact on climate issues internally and locally. A major focus this year will be a speaker series organized by student leaders that will forefront local and national change-makers on the issue of climate. In addition, we seek to partner with local leaders and institutions, to engage the community in meaningful conversations on issues impacting our region. Our aim is to not only acquire a broader understanding of issues, but to offer opportunities for the Whitman community to take part in solutions.
Exploring Climate Justice in Whitman Classes
Since the rise of the “third wave,” feminists have sought to problematize the centrality of the “White Western Woman” in classical feminism. Among these approaches are alternative feminisms developed from the unique experiences and struggles of Indigenous women in the Americas. These Indigenous activists and scholars have challenged the exclusion of their histories and voices within hegemonic feminist traditions. This course explores the work of pioneer figures from Domitila Barrios de Chungara (Bolivia) and Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala) to the Zapatista women (Mexico). As we read texts by and about Indigenous women, we will explore the relationship between Indigenous feminisms and other feminist traditions; the unique concepts of indigeneity, gender, and class in these movements; and the reasons that Indigenous feminists connect women’s struggles to the broader resistance struggles of Indigenous communities.
Solving Wicked Problems: Technology, Literature, and the Brain
Wicked problems proliferate everywhere, from climate change to public policy, education, health, discrimination and political polarization; wicked problems are complex, contradictory and dynamic and do not fit tidy disciplinary categories. Technology is often seen as a key source of solutions, but, as we have seen over the last decade, it often brings with it biases, problematic algorithms, and ethical dilemmas. This course posits culture, and literature in particular, as a way to productively study and assess wicked problems and potential technological solutions. Since Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein and The Last Man in the early nineteenth century, literature has invited its readers to think deeply about new technologies, its possibilities and its dangers, enabling readers to model possible scenarios and evaluate risk, to place technology within the context of the human condition. This course will begin with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and its response to technology of the Victorian era and will then move to a plethora of recent literary works that engage with postmodern technology. This course has no prerequisites and invites students interested in all disciplines to participate. Readings will include literary works by such authors as: Charles Dickens, Ian McEwan, Susanna Clark, Patricia Lockwood, and Nnedi Okorafor. During discussions of these texts we will consider a variety of theories about how reading literature increases the imaginative capacity of the brain, and about the relationship between technology, culture, and ethics including concepts from such books as: Sheila Jasanoff's Ethics of Invention, Adam Greenfield's Radical Technologies: the Design of Everyday Life, Safiya Umoja Noble's Algorithms of Oppression, Paul B. Armstrong's How Literature Plays with the Brain, and Shoshana Zuboff's Surveillance Capitalism.
Sep 6: Camila Thorndike, “The Fight for U.S. Climate Policy”
Camila Thorndike has organized across eight states and D.C. for climate action and progressive change. As a legislative assistant to Senator Bernie Sanders, she worked on key elements of the Inflation Reduction Act, the largest climate investment in U.S. history. Camila co-founded Our Climate, a national youth advocacy nonprofit, and led the campaign to pass 100% renewable electricity in the District of Columbia. At Whitman she was a student activist, ‘08 Westie, and Environmental Humanities major. After graduation, Camila served in the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution; led outreach for a regional land use planning process in Arizona; and spearheaded public engagement for a musical about fossil fuels. In 2020 she received a master’s degree as an environmental fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Sep. 17: Floods in Pakistan Awareness Campaign
by South Asian Student Association (SASA)
Pakistan has declared a national emergency: a third of the country is drowning. More than 30 million people have been displaced, and the resulting floods have hit more than 1.5 million homes. As of September 7, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) reported that the floods have resulted in 1,355 deaths (including 481 children and 273 women). More than 1.5 million houses have been partially or entirely damaged, around 800 schools (600 in Balochistan alone) were destroyed, and 246 bridges and 6,579 km of road sections have been affected.
We held an awareness session Saturday Sep. 17, 4–5 p.m. in the Reid basement. We also set up an awareness and donation table at Cleveland during lunch time. For more information about donating, please email Kainat Ansari.
Oct. 27: Youth Climate Speaker Series 1
A video recording of this event is available to members of the Whitman community:
Meet the speakers for the first panel of the Youth Climate Justice and Activism Speaker Series! Javan Santos (co-speaking with Louise Stephens) and Selina Leem are youth activists bringing diverse perspectives on the climate crisis to campus. Each will be discussing their work, highlighting how climate justice fits into what they do and how climate action is necessary regardless of age or experience.
Javan Santos is the Policy Manager for the Climate Initiative, currently based in Washington D.C. He is a proud CHamoru, indigenous to the Pacific Island of Guam in the Marianas Islands. He has worked in policy for over eight years, his notable achievement being passing a plastic bag ban into Guam law as a youth representative in the Guam Youth Congress when he was a student. Working in policy since high school, Javan hopes to help young people have access to understanding policy and our government to inform their climate solutions. With the Climate Initiative, he does that by creating state-level policy toolkits and hosting programming on climate policy. In his spare time, Javan loves to play Pokémon, cook CHamoru desserts, and write articles on climate issues and issues facing the Pacific Islander community.
Louise Stephens will be a co-speaker with Javan. She has worked on environmental issues throughout her entire career. She joins The Climate Initiative team after helping set the conservation strategy at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN. She has conducted sustainability research for Walt Disney World and, before that, was with Manta Consulting and IMPACTS Research & Development where she focused on projects for nonprofit clients. Louise holds a BA in History from Whitman College and an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Selina Leem is a climate justice, spoken word performer, and a poet from the large oceanic nation of Aelōn̄ Kein Ad, the Marshall Islands. Crediting her late grandfather for her deep awareness of the fate of her home, she has made it her mission to globally raise awareness about the climate crisis. Representing the Marshall Islands at the age of 18, Leem was the youngest delegate at the COP21 (the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris). Alongside the Marshall Islands' Foreign Minister Tony deBrum, she delivered the closing statement for their country. Leem went on to many other global stages to speak on behalf of her people, using storytelling and spoken word—most recently becoming a TED speaker at the 2021 TED Countdown Summit.
Dec. 1: Youth Climate Speaker Series 2
Seventeen year old Dakota Peebler (she/her), along with her sibling Charley, co-founded youth-led Heirs To Our Oceans (H2OO) in May 2016: https://h2oo.org/. With a group of 13 ocean-protecting friends aware of the challenges they are inheriting, H2OO’s Founding Chapter was formed in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Ramaytush Ohlone land, where they developed H2OO's mission. H2OO inspires the next generation of leaders by connecting them in purpose, educating them on the environmental and humanitarian crises they are inheriting, cultivating the necessary skills to make real-world change, and supporting youth in realizing solutions to today’s global challenges. H2OO’s commitment is to youth most vulnerably situated considering the ocean, water, climate crises. Dakota developed H2OO’s “fertilizer initiative” after becoming aware of the harms of chemical fertilizer over-use on our coastal marine ecosystems, which developed into H2OO’s RAISE Initiative - Regenerative Agriculture and Indigenous Systems for Our Environment. H2OO formed the U.S. Youth Advisory Council for the UN Ocean Decade, and Dakota participated in the 1st and 2nd Cohort. She is now at the helm supporting the 3rd Cohort. This last summer Dakota spoke at the UNESCO-IOC side event at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon regarding the importance of UN Member States organizing authentic and meaningful youth advisory councils for the Ocean Decade. Dakota has participated in many speaking and media events – television, radio, podcasts and films – and presented on TedX Marin on September 12, 2020. Dakota is a competitive hip hop dancer and an actor, and she utilizes both in raising awareness about the impacts her generation is inheriting on our Blue Planet, such as the making of this moving dance-based story about the climate crisis, “A Source Of Hope.”
Latifah Nansubuga (she/they) is a 19-year old member of Heirs To Our Oceans (H2OO) from Uganda who advocates for healthy oceans, climate justice and clean water. Latifah engages in public speaking opportunities to share her story: Latifah developed Climate Smart Urban Farming at 13 years old to avoid forced child marriage, as severe poverty and hunger due to the climate crisis caused communities to commoditize girls. Latifah is keenly aware of the gender-based violence girls experience due to human rights violations rising from the climate, water and food crises, and she is committing her life to stop injustices to girls and women. Latifah has spoken on many national platforms in Uganda and in the U.S. as well as on international platforms.