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18th Environmental Affairs Symposium looks to cross boundaries, spark collaboration

October 01, 2015

Can sustainability survive change? How can art further the goals of environmental movements? What tools do students have at their disposal to create a connected, environmentally conscious community on campus?

These are just a few of the questions that Lewis & Clark’s 18th annual Environmental Affairs Symposium will address. Running from October 20-22, free and open to the public, the student-organized symposium will explore how environmentalism and sustainability can be promoted in all fields of study with this year’s theme Environment Across Boundaries.

The symposium, an annual gathering spearheaded by Lewis & Clark’s stellar interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program, is divided into multiple thematic threads, each of which explores different social, cultural, and academic perspectives on the environment. Each of these threads will include scholarly, practical, and creative sessions.

Notable panelists this year include Julia Gisler, an urban planning professional for the City of Portland, and Bill Southworth, who has worked at MIT and will draw on his background in environmental psychology to discuss how individuals promote and influence environmental interests.

Each thread’s practical event, where participants can play games or conduct research, grants a deeper understanding of the issue being addressed. These sessions include a class on creating environmental art, a hands-on demonstration of solar energy software, and a student-led hike to the Columbia River Gorge.

These diverse areas of inquiry will be tied together by a keynote address from sculptor Elizabeth Demaray, associate professor of fine arts at Rutgers University. Her work explores the interactions between man-made and natural environments, and her keynote address will be a preface to the opening of her new exhibition, titled Across Boundaries.  

Demaray herself has often spoken about the artistic benefits of crossing boundaries, “Collaboration,” she says, “can lead to innovation in directions that isolated fields might not consider.”Rutgers University Associate Professor of Fine Arts Elizabeth Demaray, this year's symposium keynote speaker.Rutgers University Associate Professor of Fine Arts Elizabeth Demaray, this year's symposium keynote speaker.

“True to this year’s theme, Environment Across Boundaries, Elizabeth’s art weaves together seeming opposites—nature and technology, mourning and humor, disaster and hope,” said Professor Jim Proctor, director of Lewis & Clark’s environmental studies program. “When this exhibit hall is open, feel free to experience Elizabeth’s art and meditate on the boundaries that limit environmental thought and practice… boundaries we, like Elizabeth, can with sufficient determination cross in our own lives.”

Drew Williamson, a student co-chair of the symposium, expressed the committee’s hope that “the informational, practical, and artistic components of each theme will give attendees multiple perspectives to better ground the topics and enable them to take more away from the overall experience.”

For a full schedule of speakers and events visit 

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