With an estimated 150 attendees, the Earth Day Symposium 2021: Climate Change came to fruition on April 1st and was a great success. Attendance was wide-ranging, spanning numerous continents, and including attendees from local Lethbridge high schools. The symposium was organized by 5th-year student Antoine Gendron, with the help of a cohort of 1st-year students from the Global Citizenship Cohort program and supported by anthropology professor Dr. Jodie Asselin and Layla Lahiji from Agility.
The event included a variety of speakers, including University of Lethbridge professors, graduate and undergraduate students, community groups, and two keynote speakers. All presenters came to share their knowledge of and efforts to address climate change from various perspectives. The event also included a display of student work from multiple University of Lethbridge classes through their online site – also student-created.
Our first keynote speaker, University of Alberta professor of anthropology Dr. Mark Nuttall, gave an impactful presentation showcasing climate change in the arctic and how this affects people’s daily lives in Greenland. Our second keynote speaker, climate, energy and environmental psychologist and strategist Dr. Renée Lertzman, delivered a motivating presentation on how we can overcome ambivalence towards climate change. Other topics ranged from greenhouse gas effects to energy policy to the movement of plants due to climate change to local issues and finally, to existential guilt about our consumption.
Every year, the Earth Day Symposium’s mission is to bring awareness to, celebrate efforts on, and encourage people to engage with environmental issues. The event does this while igniting conversations and partnerships among local organizations, businesses, youth, post-secondary students, and any other person to take care of our environment. We were successful in our mission and happy in the knowledge that each person who attended took something home to ponder further and apply to their lives.
Finally, we would like to thank the donors who made this event possible. Thank you to the Office of Research and Innovation Services and the Life and Climate Award endowment in communications, to the Student’s Union, LPIRG, the President’s Office, and the School of Liberal Education.