Sustainability Professionals Speaker Series

Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 3:00pm to 4:30pm

This is a past event.

Grace Ford Salvatori Hall (GFS), Room 107
3601 Watt Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089

Join us for our next speaker in this monthly sustainability series!

Speaker: Prof. Priscilla Ybarra, Associate Professor, University of North Texas

“On Their Backs the Disaster: How Does Climate Change Reshape Race, Class, and Gender in the U.S.?”

Who takes responsibility for climate change? Not who thinks about it, or who conducts research on it, or who feels guilty about it. But who, in fact, takes material day-to-day responsibility for the way climate change impacts the human sustaining environment on this planet? It is those who have no choice in the matter. Migrant workers face unbearable losses after the Sonoma County fires in the fall of 2017 and working-class families lay most vulnerable to Hurricane Harvey and its toxic fallout in Houston in September 2017. For people of color and the working class, climate change is not a pending outcome but a daily reality. Disasters such as wildfire and hurricanes only exacerbate what already exists.

They say you see your true self in the midst of a disaster, and such extreme circumstances bring out the best in people. What can we say about how race and class structures an exemption for so many from the climate disaster that most people live today? How can we convince everyone to recognize this disaster as an opportunity to become our best selves? What can we learn from the ways that indigenous communities, peoples of color, and the working class demonstrate how to thrive in the shadow of destruction? This work is about hope and the depths of human resilience rather than a diagnosis of doom. I take a genealogical approach to excavate the layers of environmental injustice throughout history in these locales, looking specifically at migrant labor in Napa and Sonoma, and at toxicity in Houston. I identify specific strategies of resistance and resilience that can inspire others to join in fighting the disaster. Let us not let it be on their backs alone the disaster.

The talk will be followed by an informal discussion with students about careers in environmental justice and sustainability paths

Event Type

Lecture / Talk / Workshop


Students, Alumni, Faculty/Staff


University Park Campus




Wrigley Institute
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