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American University's 1st Annual Seeing Climate Change Symposium

November 5-7, 2021

Seeing Climate Change SymposiumVoices, Visions, Justice, Hope

November 5-7, 2021

Registration Open

American University is proud to host the first annual Seeing Climate Change symposium. Seeing Climate Change will bring together leading figures from the arts, sciences, and policy worlds to examine how best to understand and respond to human-induced global heating.

Symposium Overview

  • Friday, November 5
    AU Museum Open Hours 11:00-5:00 p.m.

    Exhibition Opening Panel Discussion, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
    Reception, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

  • Saturday, November 6
    Session I: Who Sets the Climate Agenda, 9:00-10:15 a.m.
    Session II: Making Change—Voices in Climate Action, 10:45-12:00 p.m.
    Lunchtime Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, 12:30-:30 p.m.
    Session III: Making Climate Change Visible, 1:45-3:00 p.m.

    Closing Keynote Speaker: 3:30-4:45 p.m.

  • Sunday, November 7

    Artist Talk: Jaimes Mayhew, 10:00-11:00 a.m.
    Green Tours of Campus, 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
    Age of Nature, Film Screening and Panel Discussion, 5:30-8:00 p.m.

Symposium Description

Climate change is in one sense an abstract challenge. It involves interactions among invisible gases and invisible solar radiation, driven by hard-to-see political and social forces, with the most profound and pressing impacts hidden from those with greatest obligation and capacity to take action. Yet climate change is also tangible and visceral. Our screens carry daily images of human displacement and disruptions to food supplies; extremes of floods and droughts; wildfires and the mass dying of species and destruction of habitats. The multi-day Seeing Climate Change symposium is concerned with how climate change can be better made visible and acted upon. We will learn from the interplay among scientific insight, artistic imagining, political struggle, and public searching.

The Seeing Climate Change symposium is sponsored in 2021 by American University’s environmental programs and is inspired by the exhibition Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change, on display through December 12 at the American University Museum.

Diane Burko, Summer Heat (detail), 2020.
See more at the AU Museum Diane Burko exhibition.

Information for Symposium Attendees

The symposium will be a hybrid event with all sessions streamed virtually. There will be the opportunity for a limited in-person audience for the Friday and Saturday sessions (COVID conditions permitting). Sunday's programming will be limited to AU community members only, thus offering the chance for in-person engagement amongst our students.

Friday, November 5

11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Patrons are encouraged to visit the exhibition, Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change, 2002-2021

5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Zoom Webinar & Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center

Join artist Diane Burko and others for a discussion about art and climate change. We will hear about the inspiration behind the making of her climate change-themed art, the opportunities and obligations for artists in the climate age, and the connections between the production of art and the production of social action. The conversation will be moderated by Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator of the AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, with opening remarks by Dean Max Paul Friedman, AU College of Arts & Science.

Panelists Include:

  • Diane Burko, artist
  • Eleanor Heartney, art critic and author
  • TBD

AU is additionally honored to present recorded remarks by Bill McKibben, environmentalist, author and journalist.

6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
AU Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

Reception featuring exhibition, Diane Burko: Seeing Climate Change, 2002-2021

Saturday, November 6

9:00 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Zoom Webinar & Hall of Science Discovery Hall

There are many different possible ways to see and understand climate change. Who gets to decide how climate change is represented? What are the implications for how climate change is viewed and addressed? Our guests will consider the roles played by the media, visual arts, and science when it comes to representing climate change, explore the contestation and struggle over what climate change is and means, and help us understand what’s at stake in seeing climate change. This conversation will be moderated by Dean Sam Fulwood III, AU School of Communication.

Panelists Include:

  • Andrew Revkin, environmental journalist
  • Devi Lockwood, author
  • Olufemi Taiwo, philosopher

10:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Zoom Webinar & Hall of Science Discovery Hall

The Seeing Climate Change symposium is being held to coincide with the annual international climate meeting under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, this year to be held in Glasgow, Scotland. Domestically, the Biden administration has an ambitious climate change action agenda, and states, cities, corporations, and citizens are responding to climate change with new urgency. In this session we’ll hear about the realities of and prospects for, and explore the roles of art and science in giving shape to, meaningful climate action. This conversation will be moderated by Jeffrey Madison, AU School of Communication.

Panelists Include:

  • Ramón Cruz, President of the Sierra Club Board of Directors
  • Kahlil Kettering, Bezos Earth Fund Project Director, The Nature Conservancy
  • Jane Flegal, Council on Environmental Quality (invited)

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Zoom Webinar & Mary Graydon Center (MGC 3-5)

1:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Zoom Webinar & Hall of Science Discovery Hall

In this session we will hear from a variety of people who produce climate-themed art and/or have the production or use of art at the center of their climate-oriented work. Panelists will explore the interface between art, science, and policy, discussing how their work exists at this interface and charting a course toward even more productive engagement. This conversation will be moderated by Maggie Stogner, Executive Director of the AU Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

Panelists Include:

  • Lauren Bon, artist
  • Jesse Ribot, scholar of environmental justice and artist
  • Monica Jahan Bose, artist, lawyer, activist
  • Signe Wilkinson, editorial cartoonist

3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Zoom Webinar & Hall of Science Discovery Hall

Sunday, November 7

In-person programming for AU community only

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Zoom Webinar & Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
American University Campus and Online

For those unable to visit campus, AU’s Office of Sustainability has produced a Virtual Sustainability Tour. Once you are able to visit campus, the Office of Sustainability has a Sustainability Story Map that is mobile-friendly, and can be used as a self-guided tour. This option is suitable for individuals or small groups.

5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Zoom Webinar & Amphitheater