Fordham’s Climate Action Summit Set for April 8 at Rose Hill Campus

| 04/2/2024

By: Armando Machado

“We want to make sure that people are aware…We want to bring this front and center”

An audience member speaks at the microphone during the 2023 Fordham Climate Action Summit.
An audience member speaks at the microphone during the 2023 Fordham Climate Action Summit. The 2024 event is set for Monday, April 8. Photo courtesy of Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning.

The 2024 Fordham Climate Action Summit is scheduled for Monday, April 8, at the Rose Hill Campus of Fordham University in the Bronx, part of a larger effort at the university to “Care for Our Common Home,” as Pope Francis has requested.

The keynote address will be given by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., a marine biologist and co-founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for the future of coastal cities. Dr. Johnson’s talk is titled “What if We Get It Right: Visions of Climate Futures.” This second annual summit, which is sponsored by Fordham’s Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), is set to start at 11 a.m. and will be held at the university’s McShane Campus Center.   

Dr. Johnson is also a policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She earned a B.A. in environmental science and public policy from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with a dissertation on the ecology, socioeconomics, and policy of sustainably managing coral reefs.                              

“We want to make sure that we uplift the work that is already happening – to elevate the work that local, grassroots community organizations are doing specifically when it comes to environmental justice,” Surey Miranda-Alarcon, a lead Summit organizer, told The Good Newsroom in an interview. “There’s a lot of work that has been happening for years, and a lot of advocacy. So the event will have different components. We want to make sure that people are aware, that people are engaged. We want to bring this front and center.”  

Miranda-Alarcon, CCEL’s director of campus and community engagement, noted the Summit will start with a Climate Summit Expo, with a goal to “connect students and other participants with organizations that are doing the work; so the organizations will be highlighting what they’ve done as well as discussing upcoming initiatives; such as the (NYC) Department of Transportation seeking input from the community to reimagine the Cross-Bronx Expressway.” 

On the call from Pope Francis to care for our common home, she said, “It is the inspiration; it is the engine.”

Breakout discussion topics during the Climate Action Summit will include Resourcing Our Aspirations: Federal Funding for Community Led Solutions; The Future of Environmental Justice in Higher Education: A Conversation with Julie Gafney, Ph.D., executive director, Center for Community Engaged Learning; and The Greenhouse Economy: Career Pathways and Innovative Workforce Solutions. (Dr. Gafney is also Fordham’s assistant vice president of Strategic Mission Initiatives).  

Care for Our Common Home 

With the goal of minimizing its environmental impact, Fordham University has worked to reduce the greenhouse gasses generated from all aspects of the university’s operations; it has reduced its carbon emissions intensity by 31.77% and energy consumption by 22.6% since 2005, according to the Sustainability at Fordham section of the university’s website.    

Keeping in mind Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’ On Care for Our Common Home, “at Fordham, we endeavor to design, construct and maintain our buildings, infrastructure, and grounds in a manner that ensures environmental sustainability and demonstrates best practices in a broad range of areas.” [Laudato Si’ is Latin for Praised Be].      

The Jesuit university notes that on Earth Day 2021, Pope Francis issued the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, “a new imperative to our world to act courageously in addressing climate change. This bold and visionary approach asks all Catholic institutions to holistically transform over the next seven years to stave off catastrophic global warming. At Fordham, the offices of mission integration and ministry, the provost, and facilities management came together to respond.” 

After convening a task force for six months, the university published its Laudato Si’ Action Plan, joining 67 other universities around the world in doing so. Fordham’s April 2023 document is a seven-year plan with climate-care goals. 

For registration or general information on the Fordham Climate Action Summit, visit the event website.

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