Social Justice Week features films, environmental walks, debates

Elizabethtown College opens discussion, broader understanding of link between environment, social issues

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Promised Land film

ELIZABETHTOWN, PA (09/11/2014)(readMedia)-- An environmental walk across campus Sunday, Sept. 21, begins a week of environmental and social justice events at Elizabethtown College.

The International Peace Day excursion, leaving the College's Brossman Commons Terrace at 1:45 p.m. is a means of helping participants understand that environmental issues impact daily lives, even when we do not always see the effect. The walk, led by Dr. David Bowne, associate professor of biology at Elizabethtown, is free.

Social justice is a key component at Elizabethtown College, and this series of events is designed to foster discussion about social justice at the school and beyond.

"Given that it is a mission of the college, the event is important as it helps begin dialogue around various social justice issues," said Dr. Rita Shah, assistant professor of sociology. "For students, it is a way to learn about the various issues, learn why it is often difficult to address the issues, learn how various sides view the issues and, potentially, learn how they can get more involved to advocate for or address the issues."

The main goal of the week of events is to open a discussion and broader understanding of the link between the environment and social issues and how environmental policies impact groups of people differently.

Additional events include a screening of Promised Land at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, in Gibble Auditorium. The film, directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Damon and Hal Holbrook, follows the story of hydraulic fracturing and two corporate salespeople who visit a rural town in an attempt to buy drilling rights from the local residents.

After the film, Dr. David R. Bowne, assistant professor of biology, will lead a discussion.

On Wednesday, Sept. 24, the College hosts an Environmental Policy Discussion from 11 a.m. until noon in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. The goal of the panel is to visit environmental issues from a policy perspective. The panel will include a 30-minute moderated discussion of how policy decisions and environmental activism can help, but also potentially hurt, each other's goals and a 30-minute Q&A.

Panelists include:

• Dr. Tom Murray, professor of biology and director of the Environmental Science Program at Elizabethtown College. Murray's primary research interests are in aquatic ecology and the restoration of impaired aquatic systems.

• Joanne Kilgour, director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter in the organization's Harrisburg office.

• John Quigley, former Secretary of PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. He is a national leader on sustainable shale gas development and has advocated this position nationally and internationally on television, radio and newspapers.

Rounding out the week is an Environmental Justice Debate from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, in the College's KAV. Individuals on both sides of environmental justice discuss the various issues of poverty and the disparate impacts of environmental decisions across groups.

Debaters include:

• Matthew Haar, a litigation attorney and partner in the Harrisburg office of Saul Ewing LLP and a member of the firm's Oil and Gas practice.

• Donald A. Brown, Scholar in Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law, and professor at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg. Brown also is a part-time professor at Nanjing (China) University of Science Information and Technology, where he lectures on climate change ethics.

• Dr. Kyle C. Kopko, assistant professor of political science and director of the Pre-Law Program at Elizabethtown College.

All Social Justice Week events are free.

Contact: Rita Shah at or 717-361-1351

Read about additional events at Elizabethtown College.

Elizabethtown College, located in historic Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a private coed institution offering more than four dozen liberal arts, fine and performing arts, science and engineering, business, communications and education degrees. Learn more:

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