Charles Hopkins to Deliver Sustainability Keynote
by Sheila Julson
The Dallas College 10th annual Sustainability Summit, hosted by the Dallas College Mountain View Campus, will be held virtually on November 6. This year’s theme is Resilience for the Next 50 Years.
Dr. Charles Hopkins, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) chair focused on reorienting education towards sustainability at York University, in Toronto, is the keynote speaker. In his talk, "In the Pursuit of Resiliency: Sustainability & Social Justice for All,” Hopkins will raise issues that face countries around the globe while encouraging attendees to think of ways to create the Texas they want to live in through lifelong learning and local action
Hopkins has served as an advisor to education ministries in Asia and Europe, as well as universities and colleges in the Americas. He will emphasize that resilience is a part of life, noting, “Resilience can be understood in three stages. The first stage is to see that change is coming. Secondly, it’s to mitigate and try to reduce the impact. The third stage is learning to adapt by having the frame of mind of being able to cope, not feeling overwhelmed and not simply wanting to go back to ‘the good old days.’”
To achieve a resilient, sustainable future, Hopkins notes it’s important to pay attention to how power, or a lack of power, affects our daily lives. Depending on our place of birth, race, ethnicity and economic status, there may be very different qualities of life we have access to, and discrimination and overt persecution ultimately lead to injustice. “When perceived injustice is not dealt with, what you have is pushback that results in civil unrest and uprising, so we have to have ways of discussing social justice and ways of addressing it,” explains Hopkins.
He cites the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of a crisis that through no fault of their own, is disproportionately affecting people living in poverty, particularly the working poor and those living in crowded conditions. Hopkins believes the crisis has been exacerbated by misinformation from multiple sources that pulls people in different directions, resulting in poor choices which make it more difficult to achieve a resilient, sustainable future for others.
Hopkins maintains hope that coordinated efforts and likeminded goals can lead to resilient social change. By building a synergistic movement among those striving for social justice, whether it be working to improve healthy food systems, fighting for fair wages or protesting racial inequality, we can build a resilient future.
“At the moment, you have people doing bits and pieces of work, but overall, there’s no national strategy to try and look at how we can facilitate the work of these groups and see the big picture of how we can create a more sustainable future,” says Hopkins. “At the moment, we’re driving forward, but guided by looking in the rearview mirror. We see what we’re trying to drive away from, but not what we’re trying to drive towards.”
The scholar hopes his talk will open a discussion of our responsibility as citizens to consider not just where we are trying to be as individuals, but not limiting others, as well. “The idea of resilient sustainability varies greatly from culture to culture around the world, so I think it is up to each local populace to figure out their social responsibility,” he advises.
“How they perceive the world is a topic educated people need to revisit at times, especially in context of building resilience. For example, if you’re going to accept change, and you see that change is geared toward greater economic diversity, we need to address poverty and do something about extreme poverty—but you don’t hear people say we should do something about extreme wealth. That’s all part of understanding the principles that are shaping the future of a country,” shares Hopkins.
For more information and to register, visit DCCCD.edu/about/sustainability/events/summit and UNESCOchair.info.yorku.ca.