Student Forum for Climate Justice Logo, Circular dots and arches

Friday, January 31 - 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

University Memorial Center

Register for Student Forum for Climate Justice

Free; advance registration is requested.

Explore and redefine the leading edges of social and environmental solutions at the Student Forum for Climate Justice. Join us for two days of learning and action featuring climate justice-centered workshops led by local change agents and re-broadcasts of climate justice focused selections from the national Bioneers plenaries*, which sets a global context for the local event.

Bioneers is the preeminent international gathering of leading innovators and visionaries who offer practical solutions to the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time. Through tapping the inspiration and wisdom of globally renowned climate justice leaders and learning innovative strategies from campus and community change agents, students will cultivate a collective voice for practical and visionary solutions and create pathways for a regenerative future. 

Participate in the sessions of interest to you on either or both days.


Friday, January 31

10 am - 12 pm | Bioneers* Broadcasts and Discussion | UMC 235

[20 minutes] Kenny Ausubel, CEO and founder of Bioneers, is an award-winning social entrepreneur, journalist, author and filmmaker. Co-founder and first CEO of the organic seed company, Seeds of Change, his film (and companion book) Hoxsey: When Healing Becomes a Crime helped influence national alternative medicine policy. He has edited several books and written four, including, most recently, Dreaming the Future: Reimagining Civilization in the Age of Nature.

[18 minutes] Heather McTeer Toney Moving Past Stereotypes: Climate Action IS the Social Justice Issue of Our Time For years, “environmentalists” have been typecast as white, tree-hugging vegetarians who care more for whales than southside Chicago aware, or rural Mississippi. But the fact is that not only are poor and vulnerable populations, especially communities of color, environmentally aware, they are the most at risk from the impacts of climate change. Heather McTeer Toney will address how we must embrace climate action as the social justice issue of our time, and tear down old stereotypes so that we can build sustainable and resilient alliances to fight effectively together and affirm our common humanity. Heather is currently National Field Director of Mom’s Clean Air Force. Previously she served as the first African American, first female, and youngest-ever mayor of Greenville, Mississippi, and as a prominent leader in the Obama-era EPA.

[25 minutes] Bill McKibben - Changing the Climate: What We've Learned in the Last 30 Years. What lessons can we draw from three decades of struggles to address the existential threat of climate disruption? What do our failures reveal about the flaws of our political system and the economic nihilism of the fossil fuel industry? What strategies are most likely to lead to greater success to save our species from itself? Bill McKibben is perhaps our nation’s most influential environmental activist as well as one of our most brilliant thinkers and authors. The co-founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, Bill wrote The End of Nature (1989), the first general audience book that warned the country about climate change.

[13 minutes] Climbing PoeTree These two Brooklyn-based poets-artists-activists-educators-musicians-performers may be the most brilliant socially engaged spoken word duo in the known universe. They perform material from their recent kickass album, “Intrinsic”. Climbing PoeTree (Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman) are award-winning multimedia artists, organizers, educators and a spoken word duo who have independently organized 30 tours, taking their work from South Africa to Cuba, the UK to Mexico, and 11,000 miles around the U.S. on a bus running on recycled vegetable oil, presenting alongside powerhouses such as Vandana Shiva, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys, and Alice Walker, in venues ranging from the UN to Harvard to Riker’s Island Prison.

[8 minutes] Mishka Banuri A first generation Pakistani immigrant, Mishka Banuri moved to Utah when she was 12 years old and fell in love with that state’s wondrous mountains, aspen trees and red rocks, but she saw many of those sacred lands despoiled by the greed of extractive industries. This awakened her to the global systems of resource exploitation ravaging ecosystems and poor communities around the world and has made her an extraordinarily passionate and effective youth climate justice activist in Utah.

[8 minutes] Julian Brave Noisecat The brilliant young writer, journalist and activist Julian Noisecat offers his insights into how, around the world, Indigenous peoples are rising in a global renaissance that holds untapped promise for a world in peril.

[17 minutes] Demond Drummer New Consensus is a leading-edge non-profit policy “think tank” working behind the scenes supplying research and detailed policy proposals for the Green New Deal to its leading political advocates, such as Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasion Cortez. Demond Drummer, New Consensus’ co-founder and Executive Director, well known in Chicago as a highly effective activist whose notable projects include CoderSpace, a computer science learning lab where students develop leadership skills, and a community-driven effort to reclaim city-owned vacant lots, is one of the true intellectual architects of the Green New Deal. He will draw from the history of FDR’s WWII mobilization, the moonshot of the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement to explain the critical importance of the Green New Deal as the next chapter of the American story.

1 - 2:40 pm | Concurrent Sessions and Workshops

What if we looked more to nature to solve our problems? How do we build upon and take practical inspiration from the parts of nature we find most inspiring, like: symbiosis, abundant yields, sustainable product design, storage, biodiversity, composting and eliminating the concept of waste? Join our amazing panelists who work to mimic healthy ecosystem practices in their gardens, relationships, businesses, and studies using diverse ecological design frameworks like permaculture and biomimicry. There are lots of solutions to even our most dire problems, if we just start looking and thinking in different  ways, inspired by billions of years of design. Presenters: Beverly Grant and David Braden.

Front Line Farming works to make the connections between race, food and other social justice issues are ever more evident by growing healthy food and through education, advocacy, and food access. They operate a multi-plot farm committed to providing food to people of all income levels sustainably. As a new, cutting-edge organization, Frontline Farming is creating greater equity across our food system on  the Front Range of Colorado rooted in tradition. Traditions of speaking truth, connecting with the land, building relations and acknowledging what has come before. Join Front Line Farming to hear about starting a new non-profit, explore food sovereignty, and engage in a conversation about what racial and food justice could look like in Colorado and beyond.

3 - 4:40 pm | Concurrent Sessions and Workshops

Indigenous Ecological Knowledge - Native Wisdom for Navigating Climate Chaos Native arts and culture are seeing a resurgence in the United States and beyond as communities leade environmental efforts, reclaim lands, languages, and traditional ecological practices and food ways. What is the indigenous legacy in environmental ingenuity and sustainable management practices? How can different native ways of designing and relating with our ecosystems and climate inform our choices in this time of climate chaos? What ethical practices, intercultural tools, native sciences, cultivation practices, and ecological traditions can help us make a change and reimagine healthy, just futures? How can we create a world where people across boundares and our ecosystems can thrive? Presented by Heidi McCann, Tiara Na'aputi, and Natalie Avalos. 

Social Justice Warriors - Deep Political Stories: Lessons from the frontline of climate change communication There is a mind-boggling disconnect between widespread climate denial in the U.S and the dire warnings of climate scientists as they track the impact of climate change and global warming in the world today.  But there are very solid reasons for this disconnect. Social psychology research reveals four “deep political stories” in our society that are responsible for widespread denial and pushback on many social justice issues, not just climate change.  This workshop will help you identify these deep political stories wherever you encounter them - at work, among friends and family, or in the public and policy-making sphere. We'll look closely at why they explain more than the left-right political divide. And we'll also practice counteracting them by crafting our own authentic, personal narratives and stories. This will be a highly interactive workshop with plenty of visual aids, small-group discussion and hands-on practice.  Presented by Maria Talero of Climate Courage Education and Organizing.

Getting to Zero: How to Acheive Carbon-Free Communities and Other Sustainability Strategies This session will focus on the goals and innovative strategies that campuses and communities are using to reduce waste and carbon emissions.  What are the leading edges of sustainability strategies? What are the stories for change? How can breakthrough solutions happen? These questions will be explored in a fishbowl discussion format.  To tap the creativity and ideas from the student participants, students are encouraged to contribute their own ideas, questions and challenges to the panelists. Confirmed panelists include: Sonrisa Lucero, City and County of Denver; Carol Dollard, Colorado State University; Dave Newport with CU Environmental Center.  Note: For students participating in the President's Sustainable Solutions Challenge and/or New Venture Challenge, this session may spark new ideas or help with guidance on proposals.

bowl of indigenous food 5 - 7 pm | Decolonize your Diet | REC Large Ice Rink Overlook Room -EVENT IS NOW FULL


Dinner provided; seating and food limited to those who register in advance.

Decolonize Your Diet Workshop & Meal Join an interactive discussion and workshop on food sovereignty and food justice while exploring the meaning of decolonizing your diet and enjoying delicious healthy foods. We will experience traditional native foods prepared by local indigenous chefs.


Saturday, February 1

10 am - 12 pm | Bioneers* Broadcasts and Discussion | UMC 235

[14 minutes] Zarina Kopyrina and Andreas Dzhons The duet OLOX, which combines Zarina Kopyrina’s ancient, traditional Siberian shamanic music with modern sounds, has performed around the world, from Burning Man to the Kremlin to Iceland to the Arctic. Zarina is passionately engaged with activism and advocacy for the rights and lands of far northern Indigenous peoples.

[27 minutes] Paul Hawken The visionary goal of Project Drawdown, founded by Paul Hawken, is to actually reverse global warming by drawing carbon out of the atmosphere back down to pre-industrial levels. All the practices and technologies documented in Paul’s best-selling Drawdown book are already commonly available, economically viable, and scientifically valid. The true power of Drawdown is its holistic nature. Doing what’s right for the climate means doing the right thing across the board and will also create abundant, meaningful jobs and a vibrant green economy. For over 30 years, Paul has been at the forefront of transformative solutions for people and planet, including his highly influential books The Ecology of Commerce, Natural Capitalism and Blessed Unrest.

[20 minutes] Leila Salazar-Lopez Unprecedented fires, deliberately set to expand industrial agriculture and other extractive development, are burning across the Amazon, a dangerous escalation of the global climate emergency. Scientists warn that the Amazon is reaching “the tipping point” of ecological collapse, but Indigenous movements across the region are resisting and calling for international solidarity to help them defend their rights and territories. For thousands of years, Indigenous peoples have protected their sacred ancestral territories. Leila Salazar Lopez, Executive Director of Amazon Watch, urges to stand with them to protect and restore the bio-cultural integrity of the Amazon, because our collective future depends on it.

[21 minutes] brandon king Given the existential threats of climate change, economic inequality and ever escalating political instability, we need concrete, integrated solutions to our shared problems. An inspiring model of what such an integrated approach could look like is Jackson, Mississippi’s Cooperation Jackson, an emerging network of worker cooperatives and solidarity economy institutions working to institute a Just Transition Plan to develop a regenerative economy and participatory democracy in that city. brandon king, Founding Member of Cooperation Jackson, shares his experiences helping conceive and build these extraordinarily promising strategies and social structures that reveal that we can put our shoulders to the wheel and build a truly just and sustainable future.

[8 minutes] Isha Clarke To build a successful global climate movement, we must prioritize the voices of those most impacted by environmental injustice. We must recognize that our current climate crisis is rooted in racism, white supremacy, and greed. We must also resist efforts to tokenize the term “intersectionality” rather than actually implementing it in our movements and daily lives. What would a movement and a society functioning on a genuine understanding of intersectionality look like?

[14 minutes] Climbing PoeTree These two Brooklyn-based poets-artists-activists-educators-musicians-performers may be the most brilliant socially engaged spoken word duo in the known universe. They perform material from their recent kickass album, “Intrinsic”. Climbing PoeTree (Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman) are award-winning multimedia artists, organizers, educators and a spoken word duo who have independently organized 30 tours, taking their work from South Africa to Cuba, the UK to Mexico, and 11,000 miles around the U.S. on a bus running on recycled vegetable oil, presenting alongside powerhouses such as Vandana Shiva, Angela Davis, Alicia Keys, and Alice Walker, in venues ranging from the UN to Harvard to Riker’s Island Prison.

Student Forum for Climate Justice Logo, Circular dots and arches 1 - 5 p | Students for Climate Justice Workshop | UMC 235 

Lunch provided 12-1pm to people who registered in advance.

Students for Climate Justice Workshop: Developing a Collective Platform for Change How do we build a climate justice movement that is reflective of the diversity of this country? Join members of Sunrise Movement - a national, youth-led movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process - for a workshop on creating equitable and just movements. The workshop is designed to give participants the skills necessary to be effective leaders in the movement for climate justice. Topics will include: principles of the Environmental Justice movement, building just partnerships, democratic organizing, equitable recruitement and base-building, and the technique of storytelling and resonating.


What is Climate Justice?

Everyone has a right to a healthy climate, but disenfranchised communities often bear the brunt of environmental and climatic burdens. Too often, communities who have contributed the least to climate change are being hit the "first and worst" by its impacts. In essence, the movement for climate justice wants all communities, starting with those that have been disenfranchised from policy and decision-making processes, including youth, people of color, and indigenous communities, among others, to have a voice in these processes which impact them and the climate.

Climate justice calls for a Just Transition where we re-examine our consumption of everythign from goods and food to energy and water and move to cleaner, more equitable, healthier, and prosperous ways of life. Climate Justice inspires us to ask: 'How can we move into a relationship with our planet and people that is more ecologically wise and socially equitable?'


*Selected presentations are re-broadcast from National Bioneers Conference 2019. 

Contact with questions about this event. updated 1/16/20.