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2016-2017

The Christensen Symposium

Jim Wallis – “The Bridge to a New America”
Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Jim Wallis is president and founder of Sojourners, a nonprofit, faith-based organization whose mission statement calls for “putting faith into action for social justice.” Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, and social activist. He has written for major newspapers and authors regular columns for Huffington Post and TIME.com. Wallis teaches at Georgetown University and has taught at Harvard University. He served on President Obama’s first White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation

Nekima Levy-Pounds, J.D.: “Renewing King’s Call For Social Justice, Equity, and Inclusion, in an Age of Demagoguery”
Monday, January 16, 2017

Nekima Levy-Pounds is a civil rights attorney, freedom fighter, legal scholar, blogger, and nationally recognized expert on issues at the intersections of race, public policy, economic justice, public education, juvenile justice, and the criminal justice system. She is the author of several articles and essays focused on racial justice, poverty, incarceration, and the War on Drugs. Her work has been featured in The Associated Press, The Crisis Magazine, Huffington Post, and the Star Tribune. She has appeared on national news outlets such as CNN, PBS, Al Jazeera America, News One, and HuffPost Live. Currently, she is co-owner and co-founder of Black Pearl, LLC, a multi-faceted company that provides business consulting, talent management, and media management services.

In 2016, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the State of Minnesota Governor’s Council on the MLK Day Celebration. In 2015, she was named one of “40 Under 40” by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. In 2014, she was named a “Minnesota Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer and recognized as one of “50 Under 50 Most Influential Law Professors of Color in the Country” by Lawyers of Color Magazine. She formerly served as a law professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School for 13 years, as president of the Minneapolis NAACP, and as an advisor to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis. Most recently, she announced her candidacy for mayor of the City of Minneapolis.

The General Leif J. Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Program

Hope Jahren
“Twenty Things That Everyone Should Know About Global Change”
“Be as a Tree Planted by the Waters: The Magic of Roots, Leaves, and Everything in Between”
January 23-24, 2017

Hope Jahren is an award-winning scientist who has been pursuing independent research in paleobiology since 1996 when she completed her doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, and began teaching and researching, first at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then at Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards and is one of four scientists, and the only woman, to have been awarded both of the Young Investigator Medals given within the earth sciences. Currently, she is a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu, wherein 2008 she built the Isotope Geobiology Laboratories, with support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health.

Batalden Seminar in Applied Ethics

Carolyn Finney: “Truth Claims: Black Faces, White Spaces, and the Environmental Imagination”
February 10, 2017

Carolyn Finney, Ph.D., is a writer, performer, and cultural geographer. As a professor of geography at the University of Kentucky, she is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. In particular, she explores how issues of difference impact participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues. More broadly she likes to trouble our theoretical and methodological edges that shape knowledge production and determine whose knowledge counts.

Carolyn is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing—she pursued an acting career for 11 years, but a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.

Carolyn has appeared on the Tavis Smiley show, MSNBC, NPR and has been interviewed for numerous newspapers and magazines. Along with public speaking, writing and consulting, she serves on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board that is working to assist the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities. As a national spokesperson, she is part of The Next 100 Coalition—a first-of-its-kind coalition of civil rights, environmental justice, conservation and community leaders from around the country who have put together a vision statement and policy document on diversity and public lands for the Obama Administration with the intention of having President Obama issue a Presidential Memorandum. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors was released in 2014 (UNC Press).

Koryne Horbal Lecture

Sharon M. Day, “Ngah Itzhichigay Nibi Ohnjay — ‘I will do it for the water.'”
April 5, 2017

Sharon M. Day, an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, is among the founders of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. Formerly known as the Minnesota American Indian AIDS Task Force, IPTF was launched as a volunteer organization in 1987 and hired its initial staff in 1988. Day has served IPTF as executive director since 1990, guiding the organization as it grounds its services in the culture of American Indian people. Day is second-degree M’dewiwin and follows the spiritual path of the Anishinabe people. She is an artist, musician, and writer who has studied public health at the University of Minnesota.

Day has received numerous honors, including the Resourceful Woman Award, the Gisela Knopka Award, BIHA’s Women of Color Award, the National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center’s Red Ribbon Award, and—most recently—the Alston Bannerman Sabbatical Award. The state of Minnesota and the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis have recognized Day’s contributions, in part, by declaring November 10, 1998, in her honor.

She served as editor for the anthology, “Sing! Whisper! Shout! Pray! Feminist Visions for a Just World,” published by Edgework Books in 2000, and contributed to “Drink of the Winds, Let the Waters Flow Free,” published by the Johnson Institute in 1978.

Day has led nine water walks since 2011, including a journey from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Superior for the Mother Earth Water Walk and the Mississippi River Water Walk. Water walkers carry water from its source to the mouth of the river or lake to pray for the water and to promote waterway conservation.