Prescott College to Host 12th Annual Sustainability Education Ph.D. Symposium April 15th-17th

Prescott College’s 12th Annual Ph.D. Sustainability Education Ph.D. Symposium, set for April 15-17, 2020 promises to be an exciting and stimulating community experience. The symposium, which is traditionally an on-campus event, will be held virtually this year, due to the COVID-19 stay at home order. 

In addition to 10 Dissertation presentations and additional interactive workshops and panels, Prescott College is proud to welcome two keynote speakers, Rachel Rachel Dunbar, Ph.D. and Dina Gilio-Whitaker.

On Wednesday, April 15th, starting at 9:15 a.m., Rachel Rachel Dunbar, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Re-Direct Consulting (RDC, Inc.) will deliver a keynote presentation titled, “Sustainability Superhero: A Crash Course in Attitudes, Actions, and Accountability,”  While many of us believe that we are “saving the day” on a local level, it is not uncommon for us to miss the mark more broadly. Even as well-meaning advocates, our judgment can be clouded by our unconscious biases. Subsequently, that has the potential to influence our dispositions.

During this interactive workshop, Dr. Dunbar will engage participants in an activity called the “Grain Game” to “survive” with limited resources in a simulated 3rd world environment. Participants of the activity will explore how exposure to different cultural backgrounds may impact future educators’ attitudes and thoughts towards the mindful use of resources.

Dr. Dunbar holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Doctorate in Early Childhood Education/Urban Education from Georgia State University. RDC, Inc. is an educational consulting firm specializing in industry assessment and program restructuring to help clients realize academic and professional excellence. She has spent significant time overseas in Asia and Australia, developing and implementing educational programs. She has pinned #getapassportandgo as a personal campaign to encourage students, particularly those of color, to travel abroad and explore the world.

On Thursday, April 16th, starting at 9:00 a.m., Dina Gilio-Whitaker will present a keynote titled, “Indigenous Knowledge and Planetary Health in a Time of Coronavirus.”  The coronavirus has, with lightning speed, drawn the world's attention to how vulnerable humankind is to new pathogens that cross the boundaries between the human and natural world with catastrophic results. In the media, we have also begun to hear from a little known and emergent academic discipline known as planetary health, an interdisciplinary field that studies the impact of development on human health. As with so many science-based disciplines, scientific knowledge is based on Eurocentric, reductionistic, and compartmentalized perspectives that evade the examination of the philosophical underpinnings of those systems. But in recent years, climate change and environmental studies scholars have begun to engage Indigenous ecological knowledge, recognizing that epistemological frameworks that acknowledge a different relationship to the natural world built societies that have been sustainable for millennia. This presentation argues that planetary health, too, has something to learn from Indigenous ecological knowledge.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker is a nationally-recognized leader in Environmental Justice Policy and a lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos. Her research surrounds issues involving the rights, health, culture, governance and treatment of Indigenous Peoples across the world. She is an experienced presenter on topics such as indigenous environmental justice in Southern California beach spaces, indigenous and feminist contributions to the American Surf Culture, and decolonizing the humanities through indigenous knowledge. A prolific writer, she is a current contributor to the Los Angeles Times, and copy editor and contributing writer to Fourth World Journal.

Prescott’s Ph.D. Sustainability Education Symposium provides both information and inspiration as students continue on their learning path. A complete schedule of events, including Dissertation presentations and panel discussions, provide the opportunity for students to present research, ideas, and work-in-progress to peers and faculty, receiving both support and challenge in return. The symposium also includes opportunities to learn about the work of others in the field, meet with their faculty, and gather with their cohort of fellow learners.

Additional presentations and discussions include the following topics,: “Higher Education Consortia: Working Together for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, ”Sustainable Artistic & Sacred Interventions for Hospice Patients,” “Decolonizing Pedagogy in Action: Exploring Community-Based Experiential Projects and Practices,” “Expanding the Moral Universe: Re-imaginingEnvironmental Ethics in the Anthropocene,” “Democratizing the Purpose Economy,” and many more.

A full schedule of Symposium events for April 15-18 is available for download. All events are FREE and open to the public and will be available online via Zoom (