Plenary Panel Announcement for the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences 2018 Annual Meeting

Dear Colleagues

Years ago, following experience doing environmental compliance work for a pulp and paper mill and an air quality regulatory agency, I headed to graduate school concerned that environmental risk analyses too often aggregate risks and benefits, rather than understanding more deeply how those risks and benefits are distributed. I now realize that, while important, uneven distribution of risks and benefits is not the only critical concern in environmental risk analysis. Equally challenging is understanding who participates in asking questions and developing answers and whose information is used to inform decisions. That is, who is included and how they are included, and what information is deemed legitimate.  These concerns are more salient now than ever as those who are at greatest risk often have disproportionately less voice in policy making processes and less access to scientific, legal, and other expertise. And the issue has taken a turn to the bizarre as voices in power actively disparage academic expertise. This is among the reasons that AESS has chosen “inclusion and legitimacy” as the theme for our 10th  annual conference.

Several plenary events will earmark the 2018 AESS conference theme. Here, we announce our plenary panel for the morning of Thursday June 21, whose members will provide stimulating perspectives on the challenge and promise of inclusion and legitimacy. We expect that this plenary will establish conversations that continue through the conference and serve to shape environmental studies and sciences programs for decades to come.

Liz Beattie, who lives, works, and studies at the University of British Columbia, on traditional, ancestral, unceded Musqueam territory.

Jaqueline Patterson, who directs the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program, brings broad international experience in women’s rights, economics, health, food access, and the environment.

Ian Zabarte, member of the Western Shoshone, board member of the Native Community Action Council, and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Environmental Studies program, brings years of experience challenging governmental and industry claims about risks to numerous western U.S. tribes associated with uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing, and nuclear waste disposal.

Don’t forget the call for proposals for AESS 2018 is now open. I look forward to seeing you at American University, June 20 – 23, 2018.

We expect in the near future to announce our Wednesday evening Keynote Speaker and Saturday public plenary panel.

Please distribute widely!



[June 4 editor’s note: Teresa Lloro-Bidart was originally listed as a panelist. She will be unable to participate in this session.]