The 11th annual summit will be held virtually Nov. 5, followed by the TRACS Summit Nov. 8-9.
Nov. 2, 2021
Dallas College will delve into climate change and cultural, political and humanitarian issues during two virtual summits that the institution will host this month.
The 11th annual virtual Sustainability Summit is set for Friday, Nov. 5, followed by Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability Summit on Nov. 8-9.
Faye Davis, assistant director of sustainability in outreach and engagement for Dallas College. says both summits are free and open to the public but the second summit may be more of interest to students, teachers and higher education faculty.
The two sustainability summits in two consecutive weeks came about because the college hosts an annual summit on sustainability but also participates in a sustainability conference for institutions of higher education.
The TRACS summit takes place annually on the campus of participating schools in a rotation, and 2021 was Dallas College’s year to host it. So organizers scheduled the two events back-to-back with the hope of increasing participation at both conferences through cross promotion.
This is the second year that Dallas College has hosted its summit wholly online in its eleven years of running. Last year saw a decline in attendance, which Davis speculates was caused by virtual conferencing still being a new skill to grasp for potential attendees.
“We're very hopeful for this year that it’s going to be much better. And in the future, we're looking to do a hybrid — in person and have the option of doing it online as well,” she says. “One of the goals of the sustainability department at Dallas College is to educate our students, staff and faculty so we can further help the Dallas community. And this is a step in that direction. It's all about education and informing everybody we can about what we can do to make our community a better one.”
DALLAS COLLEGE SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT
First up is the 11th Annual Virtual Sustainability Summit, set for Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Focusing on social responsibility and cultivating civic engagement, the wholly online conference is open to college faculty and the general public alike. This year, the conference will examine the idea that citizens of the U.S. have a social responsibility to make a positive contribution to our community.
Davis says the summit will avoid looking for the one solution to solve society’s problems and instead explore the multi-pronged approach that’s needed to address social justice and environmental issues. Also key is ensuring that Americans remain engaged in the political process and make their voices heard, she said.
To that end, keynote speaker Courtney Macavinta will start the summit with a presentation on youth development and demonstrate how to build healthy communities. Macavinta co-founded The Respect Institute to help young people break out of cycles of incarceration, domestic violence, substance abuse and other perceived failings through building up a healthy sense of self respect and regard for others. Macavinta is herself a survivor of domestic abuse.
Other presentations for the event are as follows:
Diane Tasian and Barbara Larkin of the Dallas chapter of the League of Women Voters will share their perspective in a presentation called Why Voting Matters.
Lara Schwartz, director of American University’s Project on Civil Discourse will share her idea that ardently defending facts, not striving for gentle debate, is what Americans need in the current political climate.
Jamie Bristow of the Mindfulness Initiative and Christine Wamsler, a professor at the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies in Sweden, will present what their research shows is the factor missing in the endeavor to bring climate change to the top of our world priorities — an emphasis on everyone fostering a state of being more inwardly reflective and compassionate.
The summit will conclude with a presentation by Alex Mahadevan, program manager of MediaWise at the Poynter Institute, who will explore the worldwide scourge that is the inability of billions of people to distinguish between facts and outlandish and often insidious lies, hoaxes and propaganda in social media posts and online resources. In his presentation, Mahadevan will demonstrate simple techniques that can help old and young alike check the facts of a claim and conduct a reverse image search in order to assess the validity of content found online.
Davis says online participants may join in the sessions throughout the day as they please. For those who attend the whole summit, a break for lunch will take place around noon. Opportunities for asking panelists questions through a moderator will also take place.
Then next Monday and Tuesday, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Dallas College will host the annual Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability Summit. TRACS was in part formed by the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Energy Conservation Office.
This year, the TRACS conference will explore five of the 17 sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations: hunger, health, education, inequality and climate change.
The TRACS Summit presentations begin with keynote speaker Bina Venkataraman, a former advisor to President Barack Obama, an experienced teacher, and an author who advocates for future generations by encouraging the use of forethought in an era where recklessness prevails.
A panel featuring Chris Dowdy, vice president of Academic Affairs for Paul Quinn College, will discuss the 21st Century civil rights movement of reducing inequality.
A variety of experts will also discuss a future in which people do not go hungry for lack of food followed by a panel exploring how higher education should respond to immigration,
Susan Alvarez, the assistant director of the City of Dallas Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability, will speak on how Dallas’s new climate action plan will tackle rising temperatures, flooding and air quality in the city while making Dallas carbon-neutral by 2050.
Other panelist forums to be featured during the two-day event will include discussions on enabling cities in Texas and throughout the nation to become sustainable communities, and reducing hunger and promoting mental and physical health on college campuses.
DALLAS COLLEGE SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT
About: 11th annual conference hosted by Dallas College. This year’s theme is Social Responsibility: Cultivating Civic Engagement.
When: Friday, Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
TRACS SUMMIT AT DALLAS COLLEGE
About: The annual summit hosted by Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability Summit will provide educational opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members on five specific SDGs that address hunger, health, education, inequality and climate change.
When: Nov. 8-9, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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