Social justice movement leader to keynote Ecological Sciences and Engineering Symposium

September 11, 2015  

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Mia Henry 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A longtime educator and leader in the social justice movement will be the keynote speaker this month at Purdue's Ecological Sciences and Engineering Symposium 2015, which follows the theme, "Inequality in Complex Systems: Characterizing Global Disparities."

Mia Henry, executive director for the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, will speak at 6:15 p.m. Sept. 21 in Purdue Memorial Union's North Ballroom. Both her talk and the daylong event, sponsored by Purdue's Ecological Sciences and Engineering Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, are free and open to the public.

Although the symposium is free, registration is required by going online to Co-chairs for this year's symposium are ESE graduate students Charlotte Lee and Zachary Reaver.

"Inequality exists in many different forms and systems, including access to resources, social equity and even ecology," Lee said. "The inequality gap in many of these systems has appeared to widen in recent years, such as in the distribution of wealth."

Through the event, Reaver and Lee say, participants will gain an expanded understanding of defining inequality, how it exists in human and natural systems, and how to see solutions in the future. The complete agenda is at

"The discussions aim to inspire participants to use a complex systems approach in their own research and to better understand the world around them," Reaver said.

In August 2014, Henry was appointed to lead the Arcus Center, established by Kalamazoo College in 2009 with support from the Arcus Foundation. She previously spent nearly two decades as a nonprofit administrator, education program developer, public school and university instructor, and social justice leader at the local and national level.

Henry also serves on the national leadership team for Black Space, an initiative of Safe Places for the Advancement of Community and Equity that supports intergenerational groups of community leaders working for racial equity across the United States.

She sits on the boards of directors for the Community Justice for Youth Institute and the Worker's Center for Racial Justice, both in Chicago, and has been a consultant with the Chicago History Museum, Chicago Public Schools, University of Chicago Hospital and the University of Chicago Oriental Institute.

The student-run, interdisciplinary event at Purdue provides undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to present their research and interact with experts in various environmental fields. The annual symposium also raises awareness about the ESE program and other environmentally focused initiatives. 

Writers: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Anna Schultz, 765-494-4719, 

Sources: Charlotte Lee,

Zachary Reaver, 

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