Toward a Better Future: Transforming the Climate Crisis

Join the Rothko Chapel and University of St. Thomas for a three day symposium exploring the current climate crisis, its impact on vulnerable communities, and mitigation efforts being implemented locally and nationally.

Given the global interconnectedness of the climate crisis, the symposium will explore how best to move to a zero emission, low carbon economy through the engagement of presenters from religious, Indigenous, public health, energy, government, philanthropic, academic and arts sectors and communities. A central focus will be on individual and institutional actions, practices and policies that must be taken to create a more livable and equitable future.

Opening Keynote Address, Thursday, February 28, 7pm
Somini Sengupta, New York Times Global Climate Reporter and George Polk Award-winning foreign correspondent

Somini Sengupta, The New York Times’s international climate reporter, tells the stories of communities and landscapes most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. A George Polk Award-winning foreign correspondent, she has reported from a Congo River ferry, a Himalayan glacier, the streets of Baghdad and Mumbai and many places in between. As The Times’s United Nations correspondent, she reported on global challenges from war to women's rights. Her first book, The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India's Young was published in 2016 by W.W. Norton. She grew up in India, Canada and the United States, graduating from the University of California at Berkeley.


Presentations and Panels on Friday, March 1 through Saturday, March 2, including:

  • Jim Blackburn, Co-director of Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center at Rice University

  • Mark Boling, Founder and CEO of 2C Energy, LLC

  • Alejandro Chaoul, Director of The Jung Center’s Mind Body Spirit Institute and Director of Education at the Integrative Medicine Program at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Founder, Host and Executive Producer of First Voices Indigenous Radio and Member of Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota

  • Amy Myers Jaffe, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations

  • Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, Marshall Islander poet and spoken word artist (virtual message and performance)

  • Steve Kolmes, Director of the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Portland

  • Elizabeth Love, Senior Program Officer for the Houston Endowment Health and Environmental Portfolios

  • Jim Morris, journalist and Interim CEO of the Center for Public Integrity

  • Eve Mosher, artist and creator of the HighWater Line project

  • Nick Mullins, a former coal miner from the Appalachia region who is working to bridge a gap between those working in the coal mines and environmentalist

  • Vijaya Nagarajan, Associate Professor in Department of Theology and Religious Studies and the Program of Environmental Studies at University of San Francisco

  • Bryan Parras, Co-Founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.) and Dirty Fuels Gulf Coast Organizer at Sierra Club

  • Juan Parras, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.)

  • Mayor Dale Ross of Georgetown, TX, the largest city in the US to be powered entirely by renewable energy

  • Sister Damien Marie Savino, F.S.E., Ph.D., Dean of Science and Sustainability at Aquinas College

  • Umair Shah, Executive Director and Local Health Authority for Harris County Public Health Department

  • Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation in the Pacific Northwest

  • Rajwant Singh, President at EcoSikh and Executive Director of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation

  • Lise Van Susteren, psychiatrist and mental health advocate focused on psychological effects of climate change

  • Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Spiritual Leader at Temple Hesed and Executive Director of Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

Also offered:

  • Reception for exhibition of artwork by Maria Cristina Jadick at The Transart Foundation for Art & Anthropology

  • Film screening of Not Ok and talk back with directors and anthropologists at Rice University, Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer

  • Poetry performed by Writers in the Schools (WITS)

  • Breakfasts, lunches, and evening receptions

More speakers and offerings to be announced. Check back for updates!

Many thanks to our promotional partners: Asia Society Texas Center; BikeHouston; Buffalo Bayou Partnership; Citizens' Environmental Coalition (Houston); Houston BCycle; Houston Climate Movement; Interfaith Environmental Network of Houston; The Jung Center of Houston, Texas; The Mind, Body, Spirit Institute at the Jung Center; and Plant It Forward Farms.

Registration Costs:

Through the generous support of underwriters and donors, we are able to offer the full symposium at a rate of $150 (plus processing fees) for general admission. Additional pricing options are available for day passes and select individual sessions.

For more info on student discounts and scholarships, please contact kelly.johnson@rothkochapel.org. Students, please attach a copy of your valid student ID in your correspondence. Please note, these discounted tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you are in the position to pay more to help support others to attend, please consider making an additional donation - suggested $25/50/100/150 or another amount that works for you. 

For more information on event logistics and frequently asked questions, please click here.

Saturday, March 2, 2019
4:30 PM