Building Bridges Celebrates 25th Anniversary Saturday

The annual conference tackles the social justice implications of climate change on Saturday, March 7, 2020.
Posted on March 2nd, 2020 by

The Building Bridges Conference will tackle climate justice and the intersections of climate change at the 25th annual student-led social justice conference on Saturday, March 7 beginning at 9 a.m. in Christ Chapel. Tickets are free for students and faculty and available now to the general public. The keynote speakers will also be streamed live online.

The conference, “Climate Justice: Unearthing the Climate Crisis as an Issue of Human Suffering,” will include engaging lectures followed by a series of workshops, an interactive walkthrough, and an opportunity for active reflections.

Building Bridges co-chairs Greta Dupslaff ’20 and James Miller ‘21 began planning the 25th annual conference before the start of the 2019-2020 school year. “We feel that climate change is the single greatest, most intersectional, and one of the most complex issues of social justice the world has ever seen,” the co-chairs said in a statement.

Keynote speaker David Archambault II

Building Bridges began as a student organization at Gustavus Adolphus College focusing on educating and informing community members on issues relating to social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The annual Building Bridges Conference is known as Building Bridges’ signature event which takes place every spring with a week of events leading up to the conference day. This year’s events include a Monday session on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a Tuesday panel during the daily chapel service at 10 a.m., Wednesday’s Eating for the Earth Workshop, Thursday’s Open Mic Night, and Friday’s chapel service, in which Dupslaff and Miller will speak.

This past year, the campus has seen significant momentum surrounding climate action and presents numerous opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage with the topic, including Nobel Conference 55. “We want to use the Building Bridges Conference as an avenue through which to continue thinking about climate change from a social justice perspective,” Dupslaff and Miller said. The conference is intentionally set up to be interactive and engaging while encompassing aspects of the liberal arts through the multiple perspectives on climate justice.

Keynote speaker Nnimmo Bassey

The conference will feature keynote speakers David Archambault II and Nnimmo Bassey. Archambault is a former tribal Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota and emerged as a global leader for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. He continues to be a voice for tribal sovereignty and explores the next steps, not just for Standing Rock, but for all of Indigenous people to stand together against injustice. Bassey is the director of the ecological think tank Health of Mother Earth Foundation and member steering committee of Oilwatch International. He was the co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” and received the Rafto Human Rights Award two years later.

Following the lectures on Saturday are a series of workshops showcasing how climate justice is interdisciplinary and intersectional. Workshops include: Planetary Solidarity, Practicing the Agricultural Imagination, An Indigenous Perspective on Climate Change, and more. Each of the workshops lead in to an essential component of the Building Bridges Conference, the interpretive walkthrough. The interpretive walkthrough is an immersive experience exploring climate change and its intersections with social justice. “Our goal is to transform something overwhelming and daunting into an informative and empowering experience,” Dupslaff and Miller explained.

Before the conference ends, attendees are given the opportunity to engage with material and insights learned throughout the day and reflect in a meaningful way. The active reflection session is encouraged in order to work together and think about how we can move forward in solidarity.

“The Building Bridges Conference is the first time that students engage with these topics from a social justice perspective, and we see this conference as part of a greater campus conversation about climate change and the power of student activism.The goal of the day is to educate the community and inspire others to take action,” Dupslaff and Miller said.

Learn more at the Gustavus Building Bridges website.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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