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Bates dedicates King Day to environmental justice

Julian Agyeman, a pioneering environmental justice and sustainability advocate, offers the keynote address during Martin Luther King Jr. Day observances at Bates College at 9:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 16 in the College Chapel, 275 College St., Lewiston.

Professor and chair of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University, Agyeman is known as the co-originator with Robert D. Bullard and Bob Evans of “just sustainabilities,” a concept espousing the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, while living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.

His keynote address at Bates is titled “The Dream Lives on: Towards a ‘Just’ Sustainability.”

The theme for 2012 King Day programming at Bates is “Environmental Justice: Martin Luther King’s Unfinished Agenda.” Events on Jan. 16 include a student debate and workshops that explore the “Unfinished Agenda” theme during the day, and a student performance in the evening. Related events take place Jan. 13-15.

A complete schedule will be published in January. King Day events at Bates are open to the public at no cost. For more information, please call 786-6400.

A college with a bold commitment to equality and social justice rooted in its very founding by abolitionists prior to the Civil War, Bates has long been distinctive in its observances of the King holiday. Regular classes are canceled and the entire campus turns its attention to issues around civil rights, social justice and King’s legacy.

The 2012 King Day events extend an emphasis on environmental justice at Bates during this academic year. For the King Day programming, “we chose this ‘Unfinished Agenda’ theme because we believe that Dr. King would have been an advocate for environmental justice,” says Charles Nero, chair of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Planning Committee and professor of rhetoric and African American studies.

“The committee has worked really hard for almost a year to put this program together,” Nero said. “We are especially happy that the workshops include much interdisciplinary effort.”

Agyeman speaks twice at Bates. In addition to Monday’s keynote, he offers the homily for the college’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Service of Worship at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 in the Bates College Chapel, 275 College St. To learn more about this service, please call 786-8272.

Following the keynote, concurrent breakout sessions take place at 11 a.m. in rooms to be announced in Hedge Hall, 7 Andrews Road (Alumni Walk). Concurrent workshop sessions are scheduled for 2:30 and 3:45 p.m. in Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Road.

The breakout sessions and workshops have slightly different formats, Nero explains. “The breakouts provide an opportunity to reflect on the keynote address and to focus on and develop activist strategies based upon it,” he said.

A scholar and activist who has worked in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia and Africa, “Professor Agyeman brings a much needed international perspective to justice and sustainability,” says Nero.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Agyeman’s expertise and research interests critically explore the complex and embedded relations between humans and the environment, whether mediated by institutions or social movement organizations, and their implications for public policy and planning, particularly in relation to notions of justice and equity.

He is the co-founder and co-editor of the international journal Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. He has written more than 150 publications.

Agyeman holds visiting appointments as affiliate professor in environmental justice and sustainability at the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia, Adelaide; and as visiting professor at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.

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