Environmental law conference to focus on 'Changing Currents'

March 4, 2015 - 2:31pm

The annual Public Interest Environmental Law Clinic kicks off Thursday, March 5, with keynote talks by environmental journalist Amy Goodman and Oregon State University philosopher and writer Kathleen Dean Moore.

Those talks begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Erb Memorial Union ballroom, following the opening ceremony at 5:45 p.m. All events at the conference are free and open to the public, although organizers ask that people register here in advance.

Goodman, a widely known independent journalist and the founder and executive producer of Democracy Now!, will deliver her remarks via video. She will be followed by Moore, a distinguished professor emerita of philosophy at OSU and the author of numerous books on the relationship between people and nature.

Since its start in 1983, the annual UO gathering has grown to become one of the top environmental law conferences in the nation. The theme of this year’s conference is “Changing Currents.”

That idea stems from the notion that many of the planet’s physical currents, particularly as seen in climate change, are shifting, and humans need to alter course to adapt for a better future. The conference will be a chance to talk about “how we may move forward in confronting the world of today with an eye towards tomorrow’s reality.”

“The currents that drive our climate system are changing and causing unprecedented changes to human and biotic communities across the globe,” conference materials say. “But, armed with an awareness of these changes, we can mobilize the social currency needed to change currents and set humanity on the path to resiliency.”

The Public Interest Environmental Law Clinic runs through Sunday, March 8. In addition to keynote addresses, the event features numerous panel discussions on a variety of topics, workshops, receptions and other events.

Events will take place at several locations on campus and in Eugene. A complete schedule is available here.

In addition to Goodman and Moore, other keynote speakers are:

  • Bill McKibben — Author, activist, founder of 350.org (appearing via video).
  • Gary Nabhan — Author, ethnobotanist, agricultural ecologist and ecumenical Franciscan Brother.
  • Cyril L. Scott — President, Rosebud Sioux Tribal Council.
  • Janelle Orsi — Attorney; executive director and co-founder of the Sustainable Economies Law Center.
  • Severine von Tscharner Fleming — Farmer, activist, founder of Greenhorns, co-founder of Farm Hack and the National Young Farmers Coalition and director of the Schumacher Center for New Economics.
  • Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez — Youth activist and musician.
  • Wahleah Johns — Co-founder and solar project manager of the Black Mesa Water Coalition.
  • Derrick C. Evans — Director and co-founder of Turkey Creek Community Initiatives and co-founder and managing advisor of the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health.
  • Helen Slottje — Co-founder and managing attorney of the Community Environmental Defense Council.
  • Malia Akutagawa — Board president and founder, Sust‘āinable Molokai and assistant professor of law, University of Hawai‘i at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law and Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge.
  • Rugemeleza A.K. Nshala — Attorney and co-founder of Lawyers Environmental Action Team, Tanzania.

The conference is sponsored by Land Air Water, the world’s oldest environmental law student society. Student members from the UO School of Law organize the event entirely on a volunteer basis.