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The Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service

Fall 2023

Use the key word search function  at the left of this page to find specific events

Fixing the Climate Crisis

November 14

On November 14, the Foley Institute hosted Brian Henning from Gonzaga University who explained our role in caring for the earth. He believes that humans are tasked with being stewards of the earth, rather than owners, as stewardship implies a level of respect that is not associated with ownership.  

Henning begins his talk by emphasizing that we still have the ability to repair the damage we have done to the climate, it is simply a matter of determining the best solution. He highlights sustainability and stewardship through recognizable pop culture references such as Lord of the Rings to describe the dynamic.  

Henning concludes his talk by detailing the technicalities of the climate change problem and imagining solutions. He asserts that it is both a problem of sustainability and morality; wherein we must find a balance between the standard of modern living and the Earth that we are sworn to protect. 


Climate Denialism

October 26

On October 26, Michael Goldsby of Washington State University, led a discussion on the lethal logic of climate change. 

Goldsby began by defining climate denial and outlining the myths of climate denial. One key aspect of denialism, he says, is that climate deniers will often find ways to justify their actions as not contributing to climate change in order to avoid confronting their contribution to its devastating impacts. He cites the Gap Model as a problematic theory in which climate deniers don’t have all the information, or more commonly, don’t have a sophisticated understanding of the science.  

He concludes is speech by providing tips for confronting climate denialists such as avoiding casting the interlocuter as a villain, remembering the Mansfield-Biden maxim, and asking them to make predictions based on their theories. 


The culture of climate adaptation

October 19

On October 19, 2023, Anne Pisor of Washington State University hosted a talk regarding the adaptation and resilience of communities impacted by climate change.  

Pisor began the discussion with acknowledgement of ongoing struggles arising from climate change within communities in Washington State and across the globe. Pisor identifies the need for progress in adaptation to reinforce resilience to climate issues and strategies for gathering evidence to make informed policy about climate adaptation. Pisor focuses on past and present, individual level adaptation to deal with climate impacts and addressing what “counts” as effective ways to reduce risk. 

Pisor then discusses the vital role culture plays in climate change adaptation, culture being the information we use to adapt from brain to brain. Pisor also addresses the effective suggestions that data can contribute to the change. She states that the data that does exist about the effective, locally led solutions are often retained and transmitted. The talk is concluded with the emphasis on supporting community-led innovation to help combat risks that may arise while adaptation occurs.  


Addressing climate change one state at a time

October 5

On October 5, Mark Stephan of Washington State University hosted a talk surrounding climate change policy at the sub-national level.  

Stephan began the discussion by considering the idea that local governments potentially view climate change as an issue that is “too big” for smaller scale policy to make a significant effect. He counters this thought by detailing specific action that local and state governments can take to move climate policy toward the federal level. Stephan continues to note several different policies that have been implemented into state governments which begin to tackle the carbon emission crisis in the U.S.  

He then goes on to discuss the idea that the demographic of people and needed policy is different in each state. Resources vary by state and what is desirable in one state might not be a priority in another. Stephan closes by talking about speculative fiction about climate change and the states, and provides means for students to read accurate, professionally researched information surrounding local climate policy. 


The environmental migration crisis in the Sahel

October 3rd

On October 3rd, El Hadj Djitteye of the Timbuktu Center for Strategic Studies on the Sahel led a talk on the environmental migration crisis in the Sahel.

El Hadj Djitteye spoke about the impacts of climate change-induced drought on West Africa, its people, and authority within the region. Forced migration was a focus of Djitteye’s talk; it occurs when people have no choice but to relocate due to violence or a lack of resources, making their current location uninhabitable. In West Africa, climate change-induced drought has resulted in around 3.2 million displaced people, and it has caused around one hundred thousand people a month to relocate across the Mediterranean Sea and into Europe in search of more water and economic stability. This has resulted in hostility, as some neighboring states were unwilling to share their resources with refugees. This struggle for necessities is a grim look into a problem that will only worsen as lack of action against climate change causes these extreme conditions to amplify. Djitteye’s first-hand account of forced migration and the struggle to maintain peace when resources become limited offers an eye-opening perspective that reminds us that climate change is not a problem for the future; people are suffering from its effects today. 


Faith and Climate Science

September 28

On September 28, 2023, former congressman Bob Inglis delivered a talk on the connection between faith and climate science.  

He shared his experience of realizing the importance of taking action against climate change as someone who identified and served as a conservative Republican. Through his education on the matter, he realized that he needed to take action within his party and founded RepublicEN. He emphasized the importance of communicating effectively with conservative religious groups and appealing to their relationship with God. This included using biblical analogies and reminding them that, by endowing them with free will, God made them responsible for the upkeep and preservation of the earth. Inglis also touched lightly on the difficulties of appealing to certain apocalyptic, religious groups that prophesize a fiery and desolate start to parousia. 

Inglis closed by reminding us that keeping an open mind and listening to opposing views can lead to enlightening realizations. He urged us not to let polarization stand in the way of achieving climate policy. Creating respectful dialogue around the issue of climate change is the key to expanding the movement and enacting change.  


Climate Activism

September 21

On September 21, Aseem Prakash and Nives Dolšak of the University of Washington, led a discussion on climate activism and effective protest initiatives. 

They spoke about property violence, and the moral implications of endorsing that form of protest. Recently, the epidemic of artwork vandalism has been at the forefront, as climate activists seek to emulate the urgency of climate policy. Prakash and Dolšak criticized the lack of specificity present within this form of protest. They argue that this vagueness is the reason for the “modest” impact that these groups have in the grand scheme of the policy adoption process. The pair proposed a simple solution: directional measures and specific goals that add purpose to the protesting. 

Prakash and Dolšak conclude by discussing the public perception of climate justice in the wake of new, innovative methods of protest. They emphasize that vandalism can result in bad publicity; activists should seek nonviolent ways to inspire change in policy. 


Beyond Denial

September 12

On September 12, Dylan Bugden of Washington State University delivered a talk regarding the partisan climate gap.  

He spoke about the fluctuation of beliefs within the parties surrounding climate change and emphasized that the Democratic party had displayed more significant change in their views regarding the importance of climate policy. In addition to this, he noted that the Republican party remained stagnant. Bugden emphasized that despite the typical narrative regarding the relationship between Republicans and science, conservatives often trust and utilize science in regard to their own policies. The difference between the parties lies in when they choose to utilize science and how they use it to advance their policies.  

Bugden noted that it is unreasonable to expect the public to conduct their own research on every point of political interest. For this reason, they rely heavily on party leaders to inform their opinions. Bugden concludes his talk by opening the floor to questions from spectating students and community members. 


It’s Complicated

September 7

On September 7, the Foley Institute hosted Matthew Slater, the John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy of Bucknell University. He led a talk about public perception of climate science.  

Dr. Slater began his presentation by familiarizing the crowd with the concept of scientific consensus. 97% of scientists are in agreement that the overarching cause to climate change is human activity. He introduced the idea of a “gateway belief” and discussed the importance of viewing scientific culture as a public, collective enterprise. He warns against the common perception of science as an individualistic endeavor.  

Slater concluded his talk by addressing the question, “where do we go from here?” He emphasizes that a valuable solution to the divide is embracing open science practices and reforming education techniques.  


Panic or Action

August 31

On August 31, Jason Vogel, University of Washington, presented about climate change and how we as individuals can act to combat its effects.  

Vogel began by highlighting the detrimental effects of climate change that we have seen thus far in the Pacific Northwest. Wildfires, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and increased temperatures are all direct results of our failure to address this dire issue. Vogel was intentional about emphasizing that the planet is not yet beyond saving. Change begins with you speaking out and sparking dialogue to spread awareness among people who are ignorant to the cause. Vogel then went over ways that we can negate our individual impacts on the climate crisis. He included a variety of measures that went beyond simply recycling, such as limiting air travel, changing eating habits, and finding other ways to reduce overall carbon footprint.  

Vogel concludes his talk by reminding us again that there is still time to act. It is up to us to preserve the future of humanity, by keeping our planet hospitable and abundant for the next generation.