William & Mary: W&M conversation series to focus on climate change and water

This spring’s Daily Work of Justice conversation series at William & Mary will focus on some of the region’s most pressing issues: climate change and water.

The talks will take place in person March 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Sadler Center Tidewater B and virtually March 8 at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. Participants are asked to register in advance as space is limited.

The conversations offer an opportunity for people to share their stories with small groups of W&M and local community members. Developed by a committee from across the university and led by the Office of Community Engagement, the series aims to explore issues by having people share their lived experiences, “as a way of providing space for others to engage with empathy, understanding and action,” according to its website. Past topics have been the criminal justice system, addiction and substance abuse, and ability and disability.

W&M’s recently released strategic plan Vision 2026 emphasizes water as one of the most pressing issues to be addressed for a sustainable future. The university’s Sustainability Plan and Climate Action Roadmap are in place to guide efforts towards a more sustainable campus.

“Climate change affects all of us,” said Elizabeth Miller, associate director of the Office of Community Engagement. “But sometimes with issues this large and systemic, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and to disconnect. What I love about the Daily Work of Justice conversations is it brings us back to the personal.

“You connect with someone and hear how flooding has affected their livelihood or poor water quality has affected their health. And you also hear about their resilience and commitment to positive change. Those personal connections keep us engaged in the work for more just and sustainable communities.”

Participants will engage in facilitated small group conversation with farmers, fishermen, scientists, journalists, artists and community organizers, among others.

Featured guest speakers with direct experience with climate change and water will bring their varied perspectives on flooding, agriculture and fisheries, health impacts and services, water toxicity and sewage management, water damage to homes and property, emergency services and disaster preparedness, and aquatic ecosystems.

Participating specialists in climate change and water from the W&M community will include Director of Sustainability Calandra Waters Lake as well as faculty and staff from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Arts & Sciences. Professor Elizabeth Andrews, director of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center, will be participating in the March 1 program.

Community members are welcome to join one or both conversations and will be provided with resources to learn more and act on the issues discussed. After brief opening remarks, each table will engage in facilitated small group discussion with the guest speakers at their tables.

“This really is a conversation series, so not only will the guest speakers be sharing their stories, attendees will also be welcome to share their experiences,” Miller said “Together we’ll talk about how climate change affects us and the people we care about, the role water plays in our lives and the visions we have for a more just world when it comes to climate change and water.”

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