Campus News

Symposium on Race, Justice and the Environment to be Held on Campus February 22 and 23

Story posted January 25, 2002

Whose concern is the environment? Some claim it is a special interest of upper middle-class whites. What are the environmental concerns of people of color, the poor, and other members of society?

Are social justice and concern for the environment at cross-purposes? Do those involved with environmental protection tend to ignore the plight of the poor, while those concerned with social justice are insensitive to the environment?

Is the environment basically a rural concern?

These are just some of the questions that will be addressed at the Bowdoin College Symposium on Race, Justice and the Environment, being held on campus Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23.

Speakers from the United States and abroad will tackle the perplexing questions involving the relationships among racial equality, social justice and environmental protection. The symposium will also identify ways in which different constituencies can help clarify the relationships and promote constructive dialogue.

Wangari Maathai, founder and coordinator of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya and a visiting fellow in conservation at Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, will discuss her work in the movement in the keynote address "The Other Side of the Myths."

Barry Dana, chief of the Penobscot Nation, will speak on "The Penobscot Indian Nation and Its Responsibilities to the Environment."

The symposium has been organized under the leadership of John Rensenbrink, professor emeritus of government at Bowdoin and co-founder of the United States Green Party and the Maine Green Independent Party. Rensenbrink will serve as co-convener of the symposium, and will participate in panel discussions. Other members of the conference committee included Becky Koulouris, project administrator for environmental studies; Noah Long '03; and Betty Trout Kelly, Bowdoin's assistant to the president for multicultural programs and affirmative action officer

Cultural dimensions of race, justice and the environment will be addressed by panelists Gilberto Reyes Jr., history instructor at South Texas Community College and authority on Latino issues; George Khaldun, chief operating officer for the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families in New York City, and a 1973 Bowdoin graduate; Annette Dula, scholar/consultant at Tuskegee University National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care; and Vera Karam de Chueiri, professor of constitutional law and legal theory at the Federal University of Parana, Brazil. Craig A. McEwen, Bowdoin's dean for academic affairs and professor of political economy and sociology, will moderate.

Political dimensions of race, justice and the environment will be addressed by panelists Tony Affigne, co-founder of the Interracial Caucus of the American Political Science Association; Wangari Maathai; Edwardo Lao Rhodes, professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University; Rebecca Sockbeson, director of multicultural student affairs at the University of Southern Maine; and Lance L.P. Guo, assistant professor of government and Asian studies at Bowdoin. Betty Trout-Kelly will moderate.

Other symposium participants include Bowdoin President Barry Mills; Matthew Klingle, Bowdoin assistant professor of history and environmental studies; and Randolph Stakeman, associate professor of history at Bowdoin and Africana studies program director.

The symposium is open to the public free of charge, though registration is required. Registration via phone, fax or e-mail may be directed to Harriet Richards, academic department coordinator, Africana Studies, Bowdoin College: phone (207) 725-3272, fax (207) 725-3766, e-mail:

Complete information about the Symposium - including location, a schedule, and presentation titles - can be downloaded (PDF format) at

The Bowdoin Symposium on Race, Justice and the Environment is sponsored by Bowdoin College, with special support from the Africana Studies and Environmental Studies programs, the Department of Government and Legal Studies, the African American Society, the Evergreens, and the Latin American Student Organization.

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