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Saint Mary’s College hosts two-part Climate Justice Week

| Thursday, March 31, 2022

Saint Mary’s is hosting a two-part event for Climate Justice Week with faculty members Megan Zwart and Cassie Majetic. The event will feature Saint Mary’s sustainable farm director Debra Durall, City of South Bend Office of Sustainability director, Evelyn Bauman and Sunrise Movement activist Tessine Murgi. The first part of the event took place Tuesday with a screening of the film “This Changes Everything.”

According to philosophy professor Andrew Pierce, the film “presents climate change in a very provocative sort of justice-forward way.”

The second part of the week will be a series of speakers talking about the subject of climate change Thursday evening from 5 to 6:15 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium.

Philosophy professor Megan Zwart will be speaking about the environmental harms that are caused by our industrial food system: the intensive use of land, water and energy required to produce our meat and dairy heavy diet, soil erosion and water pollution created by industrial farming practices, the emissions of harmful greenhouse gases and monocropping and the loss of biodiversity.

Zwart highlighted the role of consumers in advocating for their values.

“Saint Mary’s mission encourages us to care about justice and sustainability, but so many of our daily practices contribute to injustice and damage our environment,” Zwart said. “We can’t do everything as consumers, but we can learn about how our actions contribute to climate change, make incremental changes that bring our actions more in line with our values and speak out against unjust systems that harm the environment.”

Environmental studies chair professor Cassie Majetic will also speak about changes in plant leafing, blooming and their trickle-down effects on ecosystems. Majetic believes that this is an important event for Saint Mary’s to hold due to the nature of discussion about climate change.  

“It becomes really important for us to recognize that those scientific facts, and in many cases, that the big laundry list of problems that we‘re facing have a human face, and it is connected to justice at heart,” she said. “So I think it’s really important for us to come together around that topic and really engage with that topic, because otherwise we have a tendency to think about them in separate buckets. We need to put them together.”

Pierce added that there is an aspect of justice within climate change. 

“Oftentimes when people think about climate change, they think about it primarily from the perspective of the impacts on animals, on ecosystems. And of course, it does have those kinds of impacts,” Pierce said. “But climate justice really centers its impacts on human communities, and especially the most oppressed and marginalized communities in the world because climate change does tend to disproportionately impact [those] communities.”

Led by Bard College, Saint Mary‘s Climate Justice Week serves as part of a broader initiative with over 1,000 college campuses.

“It was a great opportunity for the school to just sort of plug into something larger,” Pierce said.

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