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Closeup of green leaf with veins

Closeup of green leaf with veins

Filibustering for Planet Earth

For a week, Santa Clara's campus will "tUrn" itself over to the topic of climate change.

For a week in October, Santa Clara University’s campus will turn itself over to the topic of climate change, including a 12-hour filibuster-style public reading of Pope Francis’s environmental teaching, Laudato Si', and dozens of events and course takeovers.

An engineering class will hear from their professor on the challenges of “carbon capture” as a solution to global warming. A guidance counselor will invite her colleagues to discuss alternatives to recycling. Dance composition and choreography students will attend a talk on environmental injustice, and build a dance around its themes. An English writing class will watch a video of teen activist Greta Thunberg’s speech to the U.N., and write about the issues raised.


These are just a few of the dozens of grass-roots projects being planned for the weeklong effort, the brainchild of theater & dance senior lecturer Kristin Kusanovich, working with the University’s Center for the Arts and Humanities and Center for Sustainability. She dubbed the initiative, which is taking place during SCU's traditional Sustainability Week, tUrn, for the U-turn that is required to halt climate degeneration.

“Each person at SCU is being invited to shift what he or she is doing from Oct 14-18, and deal face-to-face with each other and the climate crisis,” said Kusanovich. “We need to make a u-turn for humanity and the planet’s ability to sustain life as we know it.”

All corners of campus— from first-generation LEAD Scholars, to the Jesuit School of Theology, to the three Centers of Distinction on campus— are excited and motivated to bring their own gifts to bear to tackle this urgent topic, she said.

In addition to class-by-class curricular efforts, the week will also feature a robust lineup of speakers and programming open to campus and the community, including:

  • Laudato Si'  Under a Tree: 36 students, faculty and staff will each take turns reading 20 minutes of Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical Laudato Si', for a total of 12 hours of reading from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 16, on the campus’s St. Ignatius Lawn near the Mission Church. SCU President Kevin O’Brien, S.J., will kick off the event.
  • Getting Real with the Green New Deals: On Oct. 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at SCU’s Music Recital Hall, panelists Stephanie Hughes (Environmental Studies & Sciences), Bill Sundstrom (Economics), Ed Maurer (Engineering) and Heather Freeman (Romero Institute) will talk about legislative proposals to combat climate change, including old new deals, green new deals, green real deals, red new deals, green power and the Sunrise Movement.
  • Ethics Spotlight: Climate Crisis: For the week of Oct. 14 to 18, the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics will focus their periodic series of topic-centered essays on climate change, including ethical concerns for the sustainability of technology (data, energy, ewaste); “topic fatigue” for readers of climate crisis coverage in the media; the media’s false equivalence between climate change coverage and denial, in an attempt to appear balanced; and conducting productive dialogues with those of opposing views.
  • Nudging a Company toward 100% Renewables: On Oct. 17, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., the former chief of staff to Equinix CEO Brian Thomas, will discuss his Equinix journey of persuading the company to move toward 100% renewables. In the Wiegand Room in Vari Hall.
  • Honoring Native American Perspectives & Realities: An event Oct. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m at the de Saisset Museum will include master basketweaver and Ohlone native Linda Yamane on the environment and Oglala Sioux Native Chase Iron Eyes who represents Standing Rock tribe discussing their globally watched standoff over the Keystone Pipeline.
  • Who Pays? A Talk on Environmental Injustice: On Oct. 17 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., SCU Environmental Studies and Sciences Professor Christopher Bacon and SCU alumna and Switzer Prize Awardee Déjà Thomas ’17 will discuss food, agriculture, and who pays the most for environmental degradation and injustice. It will take place in Studio A in the Music and Dance Building.
  • Sustainability Fest: On Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on the Alameda Lawn in front of the SCU library, students can learn about sustainable programs and local businesses at the Center for Sustainability’s annual vendor fair. Members from the Sunrise Movement and Romero Institute will be at a tUrn booth to discuss the Green New Deal.
  • Climate Change Lawsuit: On Oct. 24 from 2:40 to 4 p.m., Phil Gregory J.D./MBA ’80, co-counsel for Juliana v. United states, will discuss the landmark lawsuit brought by 21 youth for their constitutional rights to a future. Charney Hall Room 103.
  • Water and Climate Change: On Oct. 24 from 5:45 p.m to 7:45 p.m. in SCU’s Forge Garden, SCU Religious Studies Prof. Teresia Hinga will convene students and local faith communities for a viewing of the documentary ON WATER and a presentation/discussion inspired by Pope Francis' Laudato Si' and the late Prof. Wangari Maathai, Ecofeminist and Champion of Sustainability, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2004.
  • Laudato Si, Explained: On Oct 15 at 12:15 p.m. to 12:55 p.m., Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s Keith Warner, OFM, an expert on Laudato Si', will convene a talk explaining the papal encyclical, and its importance in the climate change discussion.

Another tUrn week will be held from April 20 to 24, 2020 (including the 50th anniversary of Earth Day April 22). A full listing of events can be found online



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