Spring 2018: The Health of the Planet
Willis Jenkins is Professor of Religion, Ethics & Environment at the University of Virginia, where he is also Co-Director of the Institute for Practical Ethics. Jenkins studies how religious traditions interpret social questions, with a particular interest in intersections of religious ethics and environmental questions. He teaches and writes about the ethics of climate change, the ethics of food, the relation of Christian theology to modern environmental problems, and other questions attending moral life in the Anthropocene. Currently, he is also directing an environmental humanities lab that develops transdisciplinary reflections on coastal change at UVA’s NSF-funded Long-Term Ecological Research site.
Jenkins is the author of two award-winning books: Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology (Oxford 2008), which won a Templeton Award for Theological Promise, and The Future of Ethics: Sustainability, Social Justice, and Religious Creativity (Georgetown 2013), which won an American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion. He is co-editor of the Routledge Handbook of Religion and Ecology (2017), as well as author of recent articles on plutocracy, on virtue ethics in climate discourse, and on Pope Francis – among other topics. He is currently writing a book on how the ethics of food matters for post- natural environmental thought.
Gasson Hall, Room 100
Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of four collections of poetry: Thrall (2012); Native Guard (2006), for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002); and Domestic Work (2000), which was selected by Rita Dove as the winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African American poet and won both the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Her book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Bunting Fellowship Program of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. At Emory University she is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing. In 2012, she was named Poet Laureate of the State of Mississippi and in 2013 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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Nikki Silvestri is the Founder and CEO of Soil and Shadow, a project design and management firm working to create systems change while improving relationships between communities. As the Co- Founder of Live Real and former Executive Director of People’s Grocery and Green for All, Nikki has built and strengthened social equity for underrepresented populations in food systems, social services, public health, climate solutions, and economic development. A nationally recognized thought leader, her many honors include being named one of The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans.
An accomplished communicator, Nikki is well known for her combination of vulnerability and razor- sharp analysis. In addition to her speaking appearances at conferences and private events, Nikki regularly forwards the message of equitable economies through numerous media channels. BET.com, the Huffington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle have featured her writing, and her recent television appearances include All In with Chris Hayes and the Melissa Harris Perry Show on MSNBC.
Nikki is a Faculty Member at the Food Business School (she co-designed and taught one of their inaugural courses, “Ethical Leadership in Food Business”). She sits on the Board of Directors of the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies (BALLE), and is an advisory board member of MeWe, the next-gen social network. Nikki began her work in social change through the foster care system in Southern California, where she directed Foster Youth Empowerment Workshops. She has a masters degree in African American Studies from UCLA, and is originally from Los Angeles. She currently lives in Oakland, with her husband.
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