Faith-based and community-based academic collaboration for action: The 2023 Climate and Environmental Justice Conference at Santa Clara University

Faith-based and community-based academic collaboration for action: The 2023 Climate and Environmental Justice Conference at Santa Clara University

Participants from higher education institutions, civil society organizations, research institutions, and faith-based organizations, among others, gathered on 27 to 29 April for the 2023 Climate and Environmental Justice Conference hosted by Santa Clara University in California, USA.

With the worsening food and nutrition insecurity and climate and biodiversity crisis, it is critical to scale up collaboration and action in addressing human and ecological suffering towards transformative change. This gathering heeds this call by building bridges between “faith-based and secular institutions to co-produce actionable knowledge and social change with frontline communities.”

The Conference objectives are:

  • To build stronger partnerships among grassroots environmental justice organizations, social ministry organizations, Catholic universities, and rights and interfaith faith-based approaches to climate justice
  • To spread a community-driven, participatory approachto research, teaching, and advocacy for climate justice and the common good among Northern California and global Catholic higher education
  • To create opportunities for Catholic philanthropy to fund collaborative programs between Catholic practitioner organizations and to advance Environmental Justice and the Common Good.

Key topics tackled during the Conference drew from concerns on the ground:

  • Centering race, indigeneity and income in community-university collaborations for climate and environmental justice in the West
  • Co-producing actionable knowledge for climate and environmental justice in the Americas
  • Training for transformation: Community-engaged research and learning for climate and environmental justice
  • Strengthening partnerships for restorative climate and environmental justice: Networking, capacity building, and collective action

On the last day, a workshop to strengthen faith-based and community-based collaboration to advance environmental and climate justice was undertaken and where Pedro Walpole SJ, Global Coordinator of Ecojesuit, presented on Strengthening Partnerships for Action across K-12, Universities, and Social Ministry for Climate Justice. Earlier, he joined a panel that discussed on Diversifying and Decolonizing Food Systems for Climate Resilience in California and Central America.

Part of the Conference program was a Poster Session that shared diverse community-based research on climate and environmental justice and a Youth-led Environmental Justice Action Summit where young people got together  to “support their ambition, creativity, and energy to counter the consequences of climate change and drive forward environmental action.”

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