Experts weigh in during climate change panel

The interdisciplinary panel brought together experts from the fields of art, political science, law, environmental studies and food justice.

An interdisciplinary panel featuring experts on art, political science, law, environmental studies, and food justice gathered on Wednesday, Nov. 6, to discuss climate change solutions in McKinnon Hall.

The event featured panelists with various expertise including Associate Professor of Art and Environmental Studies Samantha DiRosa, food activist Njathi Kabui, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies Aaron Sparks, Assistant Professor of Law Vanessa Zboreak, and Lecturer in Environmental Studies and English Michael Strickland.

The evening was focused on addressing the issue of climate change as well as offering solutions to the global crisis. Drawing from their own unique backgrounds and areas of expertise, the panelists discussed the far-reaching impact of climate change and the urgent need for change.

Moderator and Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship Elena Kennedy opened the evening’s discussion by asking each of the panelists how climate change effects their individual disciplines and continued to pose questions surrounding the challenges of politization, engagement, and opportunity.

Zboreak noted the topic of climate change touches many areas of life. “The law is massive and everything is climate change,” Zboreak said.

As panelists echoed this sentiment, they also offered their own contextual expertise ranging from their experiences in the farming industry as well as in political studies and art.

Kabui was born in Kenya and came to the United States for education and one of the things he has come to understand over time is that climate change effects people in unequal ways in the United States and internationally. As a chef and food activist, Kabui highlights how food is directly impacted by climate change, something Strickland knows well.

“The whole issue is transdisciplinary,” Strickland said.

Strickland called the audience to action, especially in regards to food selection. One of the ways Strickland said that individual people can get involved is by supporting local farmers instead of corporate agriculture and “voting with your food dollars.”

Another major issue raised at the panel was political polarization in the United States and the question of whether that helps or hinders policy on climate change.

Zboreak shared that the level of political engagement in the United States is high and informational literacy rate is rising. This, she says, may be one way in which polarization is an “opportunity to create awareness.”

As the evening came to a close, DiRosa also called for awareness that takes the form of connection. Specifically, DiRosa expresses the need to reduce ideas of separateness in order to nurture connection and to “fall back in love with the Earth.”