“Earth itself has become the n*gger of the world.”
The Center for Eco-Justice is committed to the education, advocacy, and activism of scholarship, initiatives, and solutions on environmental justice in our changing world.
The Center will participate in four activities:
1) a yearly conference where six papers from different constituencies are presented with the objective of publishing the papers in an edited volume to comprise The Iliff Environmental Justice Book Series.
2) plan yearly eco-tours to different parts of the world to study the problem and explore possible solutions to our current ecological crises.
3) develop a film and arts festival which will be held simultaneously with the Environmental Justice yearly conference.
4) establish a center for activists groups engaged in transformation.
Q & A with Migeul De La Torre
Why is this Center needed?
There exists a narrative that dismisses the science which indicates the looming environmental crises facing humanity. Both denials of and approaches to this crises has been rooted in Eurocentric methodologies and thought.
What has thus far been missing from the normative discuss are marginalized voices who are, and will continue suffering the brunt consequences of the continuing environmental degradation of the planet. A strong need exists to bring these voices to the conversation.
What sets the Center apart other similar endeavors?
Many institutions which deal with environmental issues approach the discourse with uncritical and unexamined Eurocentric assumptions.
There exists no academic institution within the United States which will approach the current environmental crises through the lens of a) Critical Race Theory, 2) Liberation Theology, and 3) Post – Coloniality.
What are the immediate priorities of the Center?
1. Create a think-tank which each year brings together scientist, policy makers, political leaders, academicians, and (of course) religious scholars and practitioners to explore an aspect of the overall environmental crises which intersects with marginalized communities to discuss an aspect of the discourse usually ignored. For example, the first year focus will be the negative impact of water polices on communities of color.
2. Train students and community leaders on how to advocate for science-based policies which can create a more just and equitable approach to environmental justice.
3. Through the art and film component of the program, use creative means by reach to raise the consciousness of the general public. Also, provide a vehicle for artists and cinematographer to find ways to raise these issues.
4. Create a space where Denver community activists can connect to national scientists, scholars, political leaders, and religious leaders for networking
5. Tape presentations and create podcasts which will be disseminated at no cost.
6. Publish a book.
What impact will your Center have?
1. Give voice to those currently shut out of the conversation
2. Help establish a network and grassroots’ movement in Denver which can provide elected officials with science-based policies initiatives for implementation.
3. Raise the consciousness of the “moveable middle” about the looming crises
What are the desired outcomes within five years?
1. Developing a Center which becomes a leading voice in developing scholarship and implementing policy initiatives.
2. Expanding the environmental discourse so that the “minoritized” issues raised in our yearly conference becomes mainstream.
3. A website which becomes a to-go address for rigorous scholarship on these issues
What does success look like?
1. Exploring topics now which will be the issues discussed five years from now.
2. Raising funds to eventually establish a Chair in Environmental Justice
3. Becoming the to-go Center for issues concerning the environment and racism/ethnic discrimination.
Who does the Center serve?
1. The entire student body of the Iliff School of Theology
2. The different environmental groups in Denver and the surrounding area
3. The academic community – across disciplines – which focus on environmental degradation.
What sets the Center up for growth and success?
1. Iliff has an international reputation as being THE social justice school.
2. Iliff is the ideal location to house this Center.
3. The program is being led by Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre who has authored over thirty-five books on social justice and served as past president of the Society of Christian Ethics. He thus has the gravitas to accomplish the academic portion of the project. Furthermore, prior to academia he founded and for fifteen years ran a 100-employee firm and holds a MPA, thus providing the academic and practical skills to run the Center.
To get involved or find out about the latest developments at the Center, contact us .
The Center will host its inaugural conference on “The Intersection of Water and Environmental Racism” in October 24-26, 2019. The Center is currently inviting papers for the conference.
The first eco-tour is to the southern border where participants will explore the inter-connection between immigration and environment degradation. It is tentatively planned for December 2019.
Miguel A. De La Torre is the Director of the Center for Eco-Justice. He is also Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at the Iliff School of Theology.
A scholar-activist, Professor De La Torre is committed to the pursuit, advancement, and research on social ethics within the contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class, and gender oppression.
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