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UST Hosts Climate Symposium

Rothko ChapelJoin the Rothko Chapel and University of St. Thomas for a three day symposium exploring the current climate crisis, its impact on vulnerable communities, and mitigation efforts being implemented locally and nationally.Given the global interconnectedness of the climate crisis, the symposium will explore how best to move to a zero emission, low carbon economy through the engagement of presenters from religious, Indigenous, public health, energy, government, philanthropic, academic and arts sectors and communities. A central focus will be on individual and institutional actions, practices and policies that must be taken to create a more livable and equitable future.

Opening Keynote Address, Thursday, February 28, 7pmSomini Sengupta, New York Times Global Climate Reporter and George Polk Award-winning foreign correspondent

Somini Sengupta, The New York Times’s international climate reporter, tells the stories of communities and landscapes most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A George Polk Award-winning foreign correspondent, she has reported from a Congo River ferry, a Himalayan glacier, the streets of Baghdad and Mumbai and many places in between. As The Times’s United Nations correspondent, she reported on global challenges from war to women's rights. Her first book, The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young was published in 2016 by W.W. Norton. She grew up in India, Canada and the United States, graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.

Friday, March 1: 8am-9pm

Morning ObservanceTiokasin Ghosthorse, Founder, Host, and Executive Producer of First Voices Indigenous Radio and Member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota

An Interfaith Conversation on Climate Change including perspectives from the Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Sikh traditions. This panel discussion will be moderated by Steve Kolmes, Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Portland in Oregon.

  • Vijaya Nagarajan, Associate Professor in Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Program of Environmental Studies at University of San Francisco
  • Sister Damien Marie Savino, F.S.E., Ph.D., Dean of Science and Sustainability at Aquinas College
  • Rajwant Singh, President at EcoSikh and Executive Director of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation
  • Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Spiritual Leader at Temple Hesed and Executive Director of Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

The Impact of Climate Change on Our Mind, Body, and Spirit This panel discussion will be moderated by Alejandro Chaoul, Director of The Jung Center’s Mind Body Spirit Institute and Director of Education at the Integrative Medicine program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

  • Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Founder, Host, and Executive Producer of First Voices Indigenous Radio and member of the Cheyenne River Lakota of South Dakota
  • Umair Shah, Executive Director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health Department
  • Lise Van Susteren, Psychiatrist and mental health advocate focused on the psychological effects of climate change

Challenges Faced by Vulnerable and Frontline Communities This presentation and conversation will include a pre-recorded message and poetry video from Marshall Islander poet Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner. This panel discussion will be moderated by Erthea Nance, Associate Professor in the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.

  • Byron Encalade, native of East Pointe-A-La Hache, LA third-generation oysterman (joining remotely)
  • Bryan Parras, Co-Founder of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.) and Dirty Fuels Gulf Coast Organizer at Sierra Club
  • Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation in the Pacific Northwest

Exploring the Science, Energy, and Economics of Climate Change and the Opportunities for Imagination and InnovationThis cross-sector, interactive session will include presentations, breakout discussions and a moderated conversation.

  • Jim Blackburn, Co-Director of Severe Storm Predication, Education, and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center
  • Mark Boling, Founder and CEO of 2C Energy, LLC
  • Astrid Caldas, Senior Climate Scientist at Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Maha N. Haji, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Mechanical Engineering, Research Affiliate
  • Amy Myers Jaffe, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations

Art Exhibition and ReceptionTransart Foundation for Art and AnthropologyFeaturing artwork by Maria Christina Jadick, a Houston-based artist

Film Screening & Talk BackNot Ok by anthropologists at Rice University, Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer

Saturday, March 2: 8am-4pm

Morning PoetryJackson Neal, Houston’s Youth Poet Laureate, three-time member of Houston’s premier youth poetry slam team Meta-Four Houston, 2018 Space City Grand Slam Champion.

Paving the Way for a Brighter Future: Young Activists Speak Out  This morning session will highlight youth activists and poets.

  • Jayden Foytlin, a 14-year-old from Rayne, Louisiana, an indigenous climate activist, and a plaintiff in the case, Juliana v. United States
  • Additional presenters being confirmed.

Communicating Climate ChangeThis session explores the tactics individuals have taken to communicate the realities of climate change and how it has impacted their communities.

  • Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Founder, Host and Producer of First Voices Indigenous Radio and a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota
  • Jim Morris, journalist and interim CEO of the Center for Public Integrity
  • Eve Mosher, artist and creator of the HighWater Line project
  • Nick Mullins, a former Appalachia coal miner who is working to bridge a gap between those working in the coal mines and environmentalists

Houston Climate Action Plan Presentation and Community Discussion The Honorable Mayor Sylvester Turner will give a short address, followed by a presentation and discussion by staff from the City of Houston and community organizations.

Legislation and Public Policy DiscussionThis panel will be moderated by Elizabeth Love, Senior Program Officer for the Houston Endowment, Inc. Health and Environmental Portfolios.

  • Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, TX, the largest city in the U.S. to be powered entirely by renewable energy
  • Additional panelists being confirmed

There will be an interactive station at the University of St. Thomas, created by Writers in the Schools’ The Bayouth Collective on Friday and Saturday.

Many thanks to our promotional partners: Asia Society Texas Center; BikeHouston; Buffalo Bayou Partnership; Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston); Houston BCycle; Houston Climate Movement; Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston; The Jung Center of Houston, Texas; Lone Star Legal Aid; The Mind, Body, Spirit Institute at the Jung Center; Plant It Forward Farms; Public Citizen; and Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

Registration Costs:

Through the generous support of underwriters and donors, we are able to offer the full symposium at a rate of $150 (plus processing fees) for general admission. Additional pricing options are available for day passes and select individual sessions.

For more info on student discounts and scholarships, please contact kelly.johnson@rothkochapel.org. Students, please attach a copy of your valid student ID in your correspondence. Please note, these discounted tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you are in the position to pay more to help support others to attend, please consider making an additional donation - suggested $25/50/100/150 or another amount that works for you. 

To register, visit the Rothko Chapel website.