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Santa Monica College Holds Environmental Symposium
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By Lookout Staff

May 9, 2016 -- Pursuing the "good life" seems like a good common goal, but what values should guide that pursuit?

The Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute will try answering the question during its 5th annual spring symposium "Re-imagine Environmental Justice" taking place in venues across the bayside city this week.

The symposium kicks off Monday, May 9, when guest speaker Adam Briggle, who teaches philosophy at the University of North Texas, describes his journey into activism helping a Texas town successfully challenge the oil and gas industry.

Briggle, who serves on a citizens’ advisory group, helped lead an initiative to ban hydraulic fracturing in Denton that is now viewed as "a beacon for grassroots democracy and a model for using regulatory processes to halt the spread of fracking," Institute officials said.

The talk -- titled “Saving The Planet One Town At A Time” -- takes place at 7 p.m. at The Broad Stage at Santa Monica College's Performing Arts Center on Santa Monica Boulevard at 11th Street.

On Tuesday morning, SMC students take a more global perspective when they debate whether “global citizenship” is the best way to achieve environmental justice.

"Some say 'global citizenship' is merely ideology for global capitalism, while others claim it offers the best platform for environmental justice," Institute officials said.

The debate, facilitated by SMC Philosophy Professor Amber Katherine, takes place at 11:15 a.m. at SMC's main campus at 1900 Pico Boulevard, HSS-165.

The symposium continues Wednesday with a screening of Naomi Klein’s film "“This Changes Everything,” which Institute officials call "an epic attempt to re-imagine the challenge of climate change" that was filmed in nine countries and five continents over four years.

The screening is followed by a round table discussion with Dean Koubani, the director of the City of Santa Monica's Office of Sustainability and the Environment, and Christopher Toussaint, an award-winning producer, director, editor, and cameraman. The screening takes place at 5 p.m. at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue.

On Thursday, guest speaker Dr. Chris J. Cuomo, a professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies at the University of Georgia, discusses how the politics of race, class and gender harm the global environment but also help create alternatives.

Among the issues addressed by Dr. Cuomo, who serves on the Georgia Climate Change Coalition, is how to "blend social and ecological justice into multi-cultures of mutual respect, health and flourishing" and what it means "to really love other species."

The talk, titled, "Climate Justice and Loving Other Species: Why Race, Class and Gender Matter" takes place at 11:15 a.m. in SMC HSS-165 on the main campus.

Later on Thurday, a panel composed of local officials wrestles with the question, "How Should We Re-Imagine Environmental Justice?"

The Institute's co-director, SMC Professor Tahvildaran-Jesswein, will moderate the panel, which includes SMC Superintendent and President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, State Assemblymember Richard Bloom and Santa Monica Councilmembers Pam O’Connor and Terry O’Day.

The discussion takes place at 6:30 p.m. at the Santa Monica Woman’s Club, 1210 Fourth Street.

The symposium concludes on Friday with "Ecosextravaganza," which Institute officials describe as "a rallying call to incite inter-generational, barrier-busting planetary dialogue and tectonic paradigm shifting."

The event -- which takes place at 8 p.m. at the Santa Monica Woman’s Club -- includes music, dancing, spoken word and performance art and is open to those 18 and older.

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