Wheeling Jesuit University

WJU Hosts National Event: The Ignatian Solidarity Network Spring Teach-In

250 people are expected to attend the gathering for social justice.

WHEELING, WV, Feb. 17, 2010 — What is the moral implication of climate change and who is most impacted? This is the focus of a national gathering of students, educators and administrators this March, hosted by Wheeling Jesuit University.

The annual Ignatian Solidarity Network Spring Teach-In will be held March 5, 6 and 7 on the WJU campus and will be attended by Jesuit schools from across the nation. This includes a total of 250 persons from 17 Catholic high schools, 18 of the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities, retreat centers, parishes, and individual participants.

“A wide variety of people – nationally-known environmentalists, leaders of our Jesuit institutions, and students and parishioners from across the country -- will discuss climate change and how we can pursue justice and sustainability as stewards of the environment,” explained Dr. Jill Kriesky (shown at right), executive director of the Clifford M. Lewis, S.J. Appalachian Institute, located at Wheeling Jesuit. “We’ll also be sharing best practices for creating a sustainable environment that benefits everyone.”

Keynote speakers for the teach-in are:

Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition for Climate Change, a group launched in 2006 to help the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic community address environmental issues.

Maria Gunnoe, Goldman Prize winner and Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition director who is a lifelong resident of Boone County. Gunnoe fights against mountaintop removal mining and valley fill operations and her advocacy has led to the closure of mines in the region and stricter regulations for the industry.

Jessy Tolkan, executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 leading youth organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada. The Energy Action Coalition leverages the power of young people to organize on college campuses, high schools, and in local communities to build models of the clean energy future.

There will be a number of different breakout sessions offered over the weekend, focusing on challenges and best practices on topics including water quality, food and energy production and transportation. Student speakers are scheduled to take the podium as well and offer their thoughts and insights on environmental issues.

The Teach-In includes action too, according to Kriesky.

“This will be an opportunity for hands-on environmental experience in the Wheeling community and provides the necessary skills to carry on the work in home communities long after the Teach-In has ended,” she said.

On Sunday, the final day of the conference, participants can choose among three “action workshops.” Some will elect to work with Wheeling Jesuit professor Ben Stout and the Ohio Valley Trail Partners on further development of the Wheeling area rails-to-trails bicycling and walking paths. Others will join WJU alum Danny Swan in preparing three East Wheeling community gardens for the coming season of local food production. Still others will visit the Hare Krishna New Vrindaban Community to tour their farming community and participate in food production.

Wheeling Jesuit’s Appalachian Institute was established in 2002 and is a center of research and analysis, education and action that focuses on contemporary Appalachian challenges and opportunities. The goal of the Appalachian Institute is safer, healthier and stronger communities in the central Appalachian region and beyond.

For more information, please contact Kriesky at 304-243-6243.

The newest of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States, Wheeling Jesuit University offers students an exceptional education. Since 1995 U.S. News & World Report has ranked WJU among the top institutions in its “Best Master’s Universities in the South” category. WJU ranks 180 out of 600 in the Forbes Best Colleges survey 2009.

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