Pavilion V on the UVA Lawn

Climate Justice


Online, Closed Captioned



Discussion panel moderated by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ian Baucom with panelists Barbara Brown Wilson (Faculty Director, UVA Equity Center), Kim Fields (Assistant Professor, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies), and Howie Epstein (Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Sciences). Opening remarks by ERI Director Karen McGlathery.  Climate change has differing social, economic, public health and other adverse impacts on underserved populations. Extreme weather, rising sea levels, floods and drought amplify inequitable social conditions. Panelists will discuss how environmental justice must be a core tenet of climate action, bringing considerations of race, gender, indigenous cultures and class to the center of plans to achieve equitable mitigation and resilience outcomes.


Ian Baucom

Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Ian Baucom is the Buckner W. Clay Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Virginia, appointed in 2014.

Under his leadership, Arts & Sciences launched its new College Curriculum to better prepare undergraduate students for 21st-century lives through a variety of means—especially as a result of a reimagined first-year student experience. The new curriculum begins its implementation phase over the course of the 2020-21 academic year, building on the success of a three-year pilot program that attracted more than 1,900 students.

In addition, Baucom is working to advance the research mission and to further strengthen graduate programs based on an examination of the Graduate School’s current state and future ambitions. Under his guidance, significant investments have been made in the Graduate School to help draw the most talented graduate students and researchers to UVA.

At the same time, he has partnered with colleagues across the University to form the Democracy Initiative, to enhance UVA’s brain science and environmental initiatives through faculty cluster hires and other programs, and to help launch global programs like UVA London First. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Baucom collaborated with University leaders to create UVA Launchpad, an online eight-week summer program designed to prepare students for the world of work by combining liberal arts coursework, technical “bootcamp” style training, and career-focused projects with real-world companies.

Over the past six years, in the midst of a generational turnover of esteemed faculty, Baucom has worked with UVA colleagues to attract more than 150 renowned faculty members to the College and has encouraged a culture of innovation. He continues to emphasize the importance of recruiting at the highest level of excellence and enhancing the faculty’s diversity.

Baucom came to UVA after serving 17 years in Duke University’s Department of English as a professor and as the director of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute. He is the author of Out of Place: Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity, and Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History. He is the co-editor of Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain. His latest book, History 4° Celsius, released August 2020, places Black studies into conversation with climate change. Baucom, in partnership with colleagues from around the world, is also writing a new book that will explore the idea of the urgent and how universities can help tackle the many challenges and rapid transformations facing societies around the world today.

Baucom earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Wake Forest University and holds a master’s degree in African studies and a doctorate in English, both from Yale University.

Howard Epstein

Professor of Environmental Sciences and Chair, Department of Environmental Sciences

My current research efforts are in the arctic tundra of North America and Russia, and the temperate forests of the U.S. Mid-Atlantic. In the Arctic, we are examining the recent dynamics of arctic tundra vegetation in response to changing climate and disturbances, and the effects that these vegetation changes have on other arctic ecosystem properties. In the U.S. Mid-Atlantic we are examining carbon cycling along successional gradients from old-field to old-growth, as well as carbon-water interactions in topographically complex watersheds.

Kimberly Fields

Assistant Professor, Carter G. Woodson Center for African-American and African Studies

Kimberly Fields earned her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania, and obtained her B.A. in political science from Temple University.  Kimberly’s research interests include the political construction and maintenace of race, inequality, environmental policy, state and local politics, political behavior, and government responsiveness.  She has current or forthcoming publications in Environmental Justice and the Midwest Journal of Social Science on state environmental justice efforts and anti-discrimination ordinances.  Kimberly is working on a book-length manuscript, Just States: Evaluating State Approaches to Environmental Justice.  The book will present the first in-depth analysis of state efforts to address the racial dimensions of environmental inequality through public policy. It also evaluates the development, implementation and political consequences of these efforts and analyzes the role of political discourse, issue framing and policy-making processes in shaping government responses, institutional outcomes and political participation.

Karen McGlathery

Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences

My research group focuses on the dynamics of ecosystem change in shallow coastal systems, and the roles of climate, nutrient over-enrichment and species invasions on driving these changes. Current projects include: 1) Blue carbon sequestration in seagrass ecosystems, 2) Seagrass restoration and return of ecosystem services, 3) salt marsh resilience to sea-level rise, 4) ecosystem regime shifts in coastal barrier systems, and 5) impacts of invasive macro algae (Gracilaria). I am the lead PI of the Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Project on Virginia’s eastern shore, and the Director of UVA’s Environmental Resilience Institute.

Barbara Brown Wilson

Associate Professor, Urban and Environmental Planning

Barbara Brown Wilson’s research and teaching focus on the history, theory, ethics, and practice of sustainable community design and development, and on the role of urban social movements in the built world. Dr. Wilson writes for both academic and mainstream audiences, and is the author of Resilience for All: Striving for Equity through Community-Driven Design (Island Press: 2018), and co-author of Questioning Architectural Judgement: The Problem of Codes in the United States (Routledge: 2013). Her research is often change-oriented, meaning she collaborates with community partners to identify opportunities for engaged and integrated sustainable community development that creates knowledge to serve both local and educational communities. She is also a co-founder and the faculty director of the UVA Democracy Initiative Center for the Redress of Inequity through Community-Engaged Scholarship (aka The Equity Center).

Wilson teaches required classes in the MUEP program, including Methods of Community Engagement and Research and Planning Theory and Practice, as well as interdisciplinary electives such as Sustainable Community Design and Ecological Democracy. In her classes, students grapple with complex socio-environmental problems like climate change and structural inequities, and develop not only technical skills, but also skills of cultural competency and empathy. In Ecological Democracy, students work with a local community group to apply their skills in collaboration with the local knowledge of their traditionally underserved partners to propose co-designed ideas to community-driven projects.


Registration is free and open to all.

After you register, you will receive a confirmation email with your link to the Zoom webinar. Please check your spam folder for emails from Eventbrite. We will also send a reminder email two days before and two hours before the event.

Program Host & Co-Sponsor

Event Host:  The Environmental Resilience Institute

Co-Sponsor: UVA Lifetime Learning

Lifetime Learning is a program in the Office of Engagement. You can follow us on FacebookTwitter, the Thoughts from the Lawn blog, or subscribe to our email list and we will send you notifications about upcoming Lifetime Learning events, information, and offerings.

The Climate Ambition Summit is offered by the Environmental Resilience Institute in partnership with UVA’s Office of Engagement (Lifetime Learning and UVA Clubs), Career Center, the Office of the President, and Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Media, for an interview, please contact Lifetime Learning’s Senior Director.