Villanova University to Host Waterhouse Family Institute 2017 Symposium on the Power of Communication in Impacting Climate Change

Conference, “Just Transitions: Communicating Power in an Age of Climactic Change,” to address how to create a more effective dialogue about climate justice, environmental racism, and just transition advocacy

Villanova University to Host Waterhouse Family Institute 2017 Symposium on the Power of Communication in Impacting Climate Change

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University’s Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society (WFI), housed in the Department of Communication of its College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, will sponsor a two-day symposium April 7-8 focusing on climate justice, environmental racism, and just transition advocacy. Titled, “Just Transitions: Communicating Power in an Age of Climactic Change,” the conference is free and open to the public.

The symposium will include: an interdisciplinary panel on “Science, Expertise & Environmental Injustice;” a Philadelphia Environmental Justice Tour that gives participants the opportunity to engage firsthand with environmental activism and learn more about local efforts to advance climate justice; and a public forum on “Just Transitions: Communicating Power in an Era of Climactic Change” featuring keynote speakers Aaron Mair, president of The Sierra Club and José T. Bravo of The Just Transition Alliance.

“We have chosen this theme for our WFI Symposium because it reflects our belief that communication students, activists, and scholars have a unique perspective on the vital questions of justice and injustice that we face today,” said Bryan Crable, Director of the Waterhouse Family Institute for the Study of Communication and Society and Professor of Communication.

“How we choose to communicate these issues of environment, race, and work have consequences; if we talk about these as interconnected concerns, then we are equipped to face them properly. Our Symposium explores how we might best communicate, and create, the possibility of a truly “Just Transition,” he added.

The conference will open with a panel discussion on “Science, Expertise & Environmental Injustice” from 2:30-4 p.m., April 7 in Driscoll Hall 134 on Villanova’s main campus. Panelists include environmental communication scholar Phaedra C. Pezullo, Associate Professor, Department of Communication at University of Colorado; Giovanna Di Chiro, Professor of Environmental Studies, Swarthmore College; and Amanda Grannas, an environmental chemist and Professor of Chemistry, Villanova University.

“This symposium couldn’t be more timely with the proposed [United States government] budget cuts and trends,” said Pezullo. “Speakers will provide stories from the frontline of scientists, communities, and workers to consider what is at stake in environmental and worker protections today.”

On April 8 the symposium will kick off with an Environmental Justice Tour held from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The event will make stops at a South Philadelphia fossil fuel hub for a discussion about the environmental impact of the site and efforts to oppose it; a visit to Serenity House, a North Philadelphia organization working to build a green economy in its neighborhood; and a visit to Solar States, a North Philadelphia company partnering with local communities to generate green jobs and focus attention on economic and environmental injustice, and the just transition to a sustainable economy. The tour will depart from the Connelly Center on Villanova’s campus. Registration is required by April 5 and space is limited.

Following the tour, the symposium will conclude with a public forum on “Just Transitions: Communicating Power in an Era of Climactic Change” from 4:30-6 p.m. at Driscoll Hall 134 on Villanova’s campus. Sierra Club President Aaron Mair and The Just Transition Alliance Executive Director José T. Bravo are the event’s keynote speakers. For detailed information on all symposium events click here.

The Waterhouse Family Institute’s mission is to create and strengthen a global network of communication scholars and professionals, and to generate new conversations about communication and social change.

Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.