Columbia Climate Conversations is a series of panels on topics concerning our planet, people, and communities. This initiative is led by Lauren Ritchie, a former undergraduate student in the Sustainable Development program and an Earth Institute intern, and supported by Kailani Acosta (PhD Candidate, Department of Earth and Environmental Science), Kwolanne Felix, an undergraduate student in History, and Benjamin Keisling (former Postdoctoral Fellow, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory), focuses on centering marginalized voices in climate, activism, social justice, environmentalism, policy, and STEM. Columbia Climate Conversations centers diverse perspectives in conversations where they have been historically marginalized by bringing antiracism and intersectionality to the forefront of conversations about climate change. It also supports a Columbia University campus culture of inclusion and belonging by prioritizing the perspectives of students of color in climate spaces.
Columbia Climate Conversations creates a bridge from the world of environmental science, sustainability, and climate activism with an explicit emphasis on the perspectives of people of color into the EI/LDEO communities, and a bridge from the EI/LDEO communities into communities where the needs and concerns of students of color are prioritized. Many of the current seminars hosted at Columbia are focused on either science or society but rarely do we have a forum to engage people with the nexus of those two spheres, which are fundamental to moving both fields forward. By making these links, we hope to create a platform where students of color who are interested in any aspect of the climate, earth, and the environment can engage and feel represented; and to provide opportunities for majority white faculty to engage meaningfully with the perspectives of marginalized communities in a way that is not tokenizing nor extractive. Ultimately, we aim to build genuine bridges founded on trust and mutual respect between communities of color and Earth Institute/LDEO.
Offer unique educational opportunities for Columbia students and EI/LDEO staff alike to hear the perspectives of acclaimed environmental activists, raise awareness about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the environmental sciences, and encourage Columbia students to take action
Increase knowledge of, and participation in, EI/LDEO events among Columbia undergraduate students from diverse groups and different departments via targeted partnerships with student groups within CU and across NYC to co-create programming of mutual interest to diverse undergraduates and the LDEO/EI communities
Expand the reach of EI/LDEO and its name recognition among undergraduate students from diverse groups