Fordham Focuses on Climate Change


Published: Febrary 14, 2008

FORDHAM—The topic of conversation at Fordham and 1,800 other institutions on Jan. 31 was “going green.” As a part of Focus the Nation, a nationwide teach-in about global warming solutions, Fordham’s Rose Hill campus hosted an all-day affair that featured more than 30 presentations on climate change and sustainability.

“The ‘planet’ has to be understood to include not only some vague notion of the ‘environment’ but the millions of specific species that will become extinct in the next century, the drastic changes to ocean chemistry that could occur and the millions and millions of vulnerable human beings living in regions in particular risk from global warming shifts,” said Jude Jones, associate professor of philosophy at Fordham and an organizer of the event.

Teach-in presenters included faculty, students, community members and government representatives. Along with a series of presentations and panels, Jones said some of the other events included a dance performance, an art exhibit featuring student and children’s artwork focused on global warming, carbon footprint testing and letter-writing advice for students who want to contact elected officials.

Another feature of the events was a ‘Sustainability Marketplace of Goods and Good Ideas’ in McGinley Center, which Jones described as “an area with information and product booths to bring awareness to matters such as Fair Trade, the connection of war and energy policy, alternative cooking and energy for developing regions, local Bronx and NY initiatives for a greener future and more.”

Focus the Nation was founded in 2006 by Eban Goodstein, professor of economics at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. Jones said the organization is designed to bring the attention of the nation into focus on issues of climate change, with efforts to “thwart some of the effects of climate change” by reaching out to elected officials, industry leaders and communities.

The Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, was unable to attend the events but said in a statement, “Here at Fordham we have already begun to do our part. The larger part of the work lies with you … to educate, inspire and move public and policy officials to act always for the common good.”

Some of the goals of the teach-in included urging the community to focus on matters of climate change and sustainability, as well as energizing the community to see these issues as a part of the social justice mission of university life, Jones explained. “We would like to have this spark the development of a Sustainability Office at the university level, and would like to have our Web site possibly evolve into a hub for area organizations working towards sustainability,” she added.

Jones said the teach-in was a tremendous success, with a full house attendance in the morning, slightly slower in the afternoon, and a larger crowd by the evening.

She continued by describing the next step: “We need to bring pressure to our elected officials as soon as possible, so that they act on necessary energy policy changes.” She continued by saying that she urges everyone to take action, particularly on Feb. 19, when congressional representatives will be in their district offices and available to constituents.

“[The teach-in] was just the beginning, and it was a great beginning,” Jones added.