Every year, the keynote addresses at AASHE’s Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (#GCSHE) are some of the most highly-anticipated sessions of the event. Last year’s virtual #GCSHE ushered in a level of accessibility that the conference had never seen before and opened up the stage to thousands of sustainability leaders gathered to hear the captivating talks. 2020’s speakers presented groundbreaking insights on relevant environmental and socio-political issues from systemic racial inequity to models for a just transition to the impact of student debt. These sessions sent participants on an unforgettable three-day journey of critical thinking, dynamic conversations and deep personal reflection.
Colette Pichon Battle, Founder and Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, kicked off the conference with a framework for a just, inclusive transition, emphasizing the importance of organizing from the bottom up. Similarly, Tasneem Essop, Executive Director of the Climate Action Network International, called for the democratization of the transition, urging that the only way to guarantee true justice is to ensure that all of the voices are at the table. Ecologist and Distinguished Teaching Professor Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (2013), challenged her audience to think of land as a sense of belonging rather than a source of belongings. Kimmerer’s points were further emphasized when Mateo Nube, Co-Founder of the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, explained how to shift our economic focus from extraction to regeneration. The Truth & Reconciliation Panel, the Youth Leadership Panel and Professor Ibram X. Kendi, author of the #1 New York Times Best Seller How to Be an Antiracist (2019), all engaged in critical conversations on dismantling the systemic racial injustices within the higher education system, how to challenge our institutions to do better and how to commit ourselves to be anti-racist. This, and several other speakers, established this event as a space for exchanging and discovering thought-provoking insights.
Each year, the GCSHE evolves and expands its global audience—and the astute array of speakers is a major draw. With a theme of “The Future is…,” this year’s keynote lineup will introduce innovative ideas on how we can bounce back from the obstacles of 2020, and help us reimagine the future of higher education sustainability. The addresses will intersect current environmental, economic, social and political themes to engage audiences of diverse interests and backgrounds. If you are someone who is passionate about engaging in dynamic, thoughtful conversations to better yourself and your community, you can’t miss this opportunity. Are you ready to challenge yourself and change the future?