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Fonna Forman


Wednesday, February 10, 2021, from 12:30 - 1:30 pm on Zoom.


Climate Justice Here and Now: Practical Ethics for Urgent Times



Here I provide an update on the disproportionate impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities here in California, and around the world. I argue that the language of “climate justice” may not be the best language for communicating the urgency of this harm to the general public, and for changing attitudes and behaviors about climate change. How do we move the climate change conversation beyond politics, beyond divisive, ideologically-charged rhetoric? How do we invest everyone in this crisis? Drawing on theories of human motivation in the social sciences, I argue that most people, most often, tend to be motivated by what most directly affects them, their families, and their neighborhoods. Climate change needs to "come home" to every person, every neighborhood, rich and poor alike. I conclude that an accelerated focus on public health is a powerful way to do this.



Fonna Forman (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is Associate Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego, and founding Director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice, an ORU focused on community-based solutions to poverty. A theorist of ethics and public culture, her work focuses on poverty, climate justice, borders and migration, and equitable urbanization. Current research includes a book project on “cross-border citizenship” (London: Verso), and an NSF-funded investigation of climate risk and vulnerability in California’s underserved communities. Forman was Vice-Chair of the 2015 University of California Bending the Curve report, and in 2017 (with UCSD colleague Ram Ramanathan) piloted its first adaptation into an undergraduate course, which is now taught across the UC system. With UCSD colleague Teddy Cruz, she leads the UCSD Community Stations, a platform for university-community partnerships on urban and environmental challenges in the San Diego-Tijuana border region.