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Spotlight on environmental justice continues this spring

Several events planned to highlight 2023-2024 FOCUS theme

2023-2024 FOCUS theme
Campus Life

Spotlight on environmental justice continues this spring

From a semester-long art exhibit to several talks and lectures, the focus this spring is on environmental justice.

That’s the topic for Miami University’s 2023-2024 FOCUS initiative, and it’s one that has engaged students and faculty across multiple disciplines, said Amy Bergerson, associate provost and dean for undergraduate education, who is co-chairing this year’s initiative with Jonathan Levy, director of the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability.

“It’s a great resource and a way to maybe get people thinking about things they don’t think about every day,” Bergerson said.

Partnering with the John W. Altman Program in the Humanities, the FOCUS initiative is bringing speakers and events to campus that spotlight the issues, problems, and solutions associated with environmental justice.

This is the third theme since the inaugural FOCUS program in 2021-2022, which highlighted race and racial justice. The FOCUS theme in 2022-2023 was tribal sovereignty.

In 2024-2025, the FOCUS initiative topic will be artificial intelligence. FOCUS is a university-wide initiative that coordinates groups, centers, institutes, and departments to create a year-long examination of a worthwhile topic.

“It’s a great campus community effort in both selecting the theme and deciding what the programming around that theme might look like,” Bergerson said. “We try to come up with themes that are of universal interest and allow people to think about how they want to engage with them through various disciplinary interests.”

Tying into this year’s theme is “The World in Which We Live: The Art of Environmental Awareness” exhibit featured at the Richard and Carole Cocks Art Museum through June 8.

Upcoming events include Robert Musil’s talk on author and marine biologist Rachel Carson March 5 at Shriver Center; the March 13 Art History capstone exhibition opening reception and student gallery talks; and an April 2 appearance by author and assistant professor Elizabeth Rush at Armstrong Student Center.

A full listing of events is available on the FOCUS website.

Bergerson noted faculty members have rolled some of the FOCUS information into their syllabi, which drives student engagement with the theme.

“We’ve had scientists and environmental activists, writers and artists. Everyone viewing the theme of environmental justice through their lens offers lots of different ways of looking at a problem and how we might have a positive impact,” Bergerson said.