Environmental Affairs Symposium Highlights Local and Global Conservation
October 14, 2020
by Yancee Gordon BA ’21
The ENVX Symposium is about crossing boundaries, whether they be intellectual, geographical, or communicative. Diverse perspectives are welcome, and attendees are encouraged to reevaluate how they approach environmental issues. This year’s theme, Conservation Conversations, will bring together a local and global outlook to the meaning of contemporary biodiversity conservation from October 20–22.
“I have been an active member of the ENVX symposium for three years, and I craved a discourse about conservation that we could contextualize in various ways,” says session facilitator Tobias Varntoft BA ’21, an environmental studies major and political economy minor from Terslev, Denmark. “The theme of conservation is prevalent in our classes, so utilizing the symposium to talk about it in relation to other important themes, like race, COVID-19, and cities, is important in enhancing our understanding of conservation in general.”
Many of the symposium’s sessions will continue the discourse from this summer’s ENVS reading group. The topics discussed in the group will all be analyzed further during the symposium to highlight some solutions and unique opportunities available for the modern challenges involved with conservation.
“Conservation is a topic where specific beliefs can create distance,” says international affairs major and environmental studies minor Maya Rutherford BA ’22. A Third Culture Kid, she grew up in Japan, Senegal, and Egypt. “We want to use this symposium to open up constructive dialogues that can move us forward.”
Global conservation will also be discussed in collaboration with the Lewis & Clark Overseas and Off-Campus Programs office. Current students who have recently studied abroad in Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, East Africa, and Thailand will describe their experiences abroad, the environmental situations of their host countries, and how global perspectives on conservation fit within the specific contexts of individual countries.
“As a cofacilitator for the Conservation Around the World session, I have been outlining a schedule for the 90-minute session, brainstorming discussion questions, and figuring out the best way to engage with participants via Zoom,” says Helen Guyton BA ’23, a sociology and anthropology major and environmental studies and Japanese double minor from Cologne, Germany. “These conversations are important because without discussion and exposure to the need for conservation, we cannot reach workable solutions.”