Hastings College Lecture Series Student Symposium

The Mission of the Hastings College Lecture Series (HCLS) is to encourage and provide financial support for extraordinary artistic, cultural and academic experiences for the Hastings College community. The HCLS Student Symposium Committee focuses on one topic and brings to campus a variety of speakers, performers and experiences related to the current year’s theme.

All speakers are on Wednesday, November 3, with most speakers being in person in French Memorial Chapel, and other speaking via video in the Chapel. 

The HCLS Student Symposium is free and open to the public — but please note masks are currently required in all campus buildings. 

The 2021 theme is “Climate Change.”

HCLS student symposium 21

Schedule Summary

All talks are in French Memorial Chapel. A detailed schedule and speaker bios are below.
Please note that masks are currently required inside campus buildings.

  • 8:30 a.m. – Emily Cloyd with a lecture titled “How We Respond: Climate Change, Communities and Conversation.”
  • 9:30 a.m. – Jess Benjamin ’01 with a lecture titled “Ceramic Climatology.”
  • 10:30 a.m. – Jamie Margolin with a lecture titled “Being Happy & Healthy While Fighting The End of The World.”
  • 1:00 p.m. – Judi Brown with a lecture titled “Using Human-Centered Design to Address Climate Change.”
  • 2:00 p.m. – Laurel Teal ’17 with a lecture titled “Whiskey is for Drinking, but Water is for Fighting: an Intro to the West’s Most Finite Resource.”
  • 3:00 p.m. – Katy Ayres with a lecture titled “Finding Excitement and Following It.”
    • Video not available
  • 7:00 p.m. – Hastings College faculty panel
  • Also: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. — Sustainability Fair in Hazelrigg Student Union

Detailed Schedule and Speaker Bios

All speakers are in French Memorial Chapel. Please note that masks are currently required inside campus buildings.

8:30 a.m. — How We Respond: Climate Change, Communities and Conversation with Emily Cloyd

Our nation, our states and our communities face an urgent problem: climate change. Science tells us that the sooner we respond to climate change, the lower the risks and costs will be in the future. In addition, responding to climate change can have a wide range of economic, health, environmental and social benefits. One of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal is scientific research, which can help us better understand climate change and potential responses.

But science is only a part of the equation: scientists and community members must work together to seek resources, share expertise, collect and use relevant data sets, and find solutions that work for their communities. This talk will share stories of how scientists and communities across the United States collaborate to act on climate change, discuss best practices for communicating about and sustaining dialogue around climate change responses, and empower attendees to engage in conversations about climate change within their own communities.

BIO: Emily Therese Cloyd is an ecologist, climate scientist and advocate for community-engaged science. As director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Center for Public Engagement, she leads a variety of science communication and public engagement programs that train scientists and engineers, build scientific institutions’ capacity to support public engagement, and directly engage the public. Prior to joining AAAS, Cloyd led engagement and outreach for the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the Third National Climate Assessment, served as a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and studied the use of ecological models in Great Lakes management. She holds an executive certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management (University of Notre Dame), a master’s in Conservation Biology (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry) and a bachelor’s in Plant Biology (University of Michigan). Cloyd enjoys paddling on the Potomac or Anacostia Rivers, especially if it is in a dragon boat, and is slowly section hiking the Appalachian Trail. Follow her on Twitter @EngageClimate.

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9:30 a.m. — Ceramic Climatology with Jess Benjamin

Jess Benjamin’s ceramic artwork focuses on water usage in the Great Plains area: a regional concern that is related to the phenomenon of global drought. As the daughter of a Nebraska farmer and rancher, Benjamin has witnessed the drought-like conditions in the Midwest throughout her life. Below the Midwest lies the greatest underground water reserve in the world, the Ogallala Aquifer. As a nation driven by the imperative of over-consumption, the United States has become dependent on commodities that require large quantities of diminishing water. Through research on water, Benjamin has discovered many structural similarities between intake towers, jackstones, and molecules of water and ethanol. Cartographic color, surface texture and scale are used to aid in the understanding of water levels and drought conditions. Benjamin hopes to convey to the viewer the need to protect and preserve the aquifer, which contains our most precious resource, water.

BIO: Jess Benjamin’s imagination was trained in the irrigation ditches on the 100th Meridian and is one of the last be educated in a two room schoolhouse. Her father, Howdy, began teaching her about land management, geographical history, and farm markets as soon as she could handle a shovel: age 5. Benjamin now lives in the city and has gained a balanced perspective on our nation’s water and drought issues.

Benjamin received her B.A. from Hastings College in 2001 and worked as a studio assistant for ceramic artist, Jun Kaneko, until 2006. In 2008, she received her M.F.A from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. She returned to Omaha the same year to pursue her research and to acquire affordable studio space, in which she could continue to make large-scale ceramic sculpture. Benjamin is currently the Lied Art Gallery Director at Creighton University in Omaha.

Benjamin has exhibited her artwork at the Amarillo Museum of Art, Joslyn Art Museum, Museum of Nebraska Art, the Great Plains Art Museum, and other regional galleries. In 2013, the Nebraska Arts Council awarded her an Individual Artist Fellowship Grant. Benjamin’s artwork has been published in Sculpture Magazine, Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, NY Arts Magazine, Lark Crafts: 500 Ceramic Sculptures and The Best of 500 Ceramics.

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10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. — Sustainability Fair in Hazelrigg Student Union

10:30 a.m. — Being Happy & Healthy While Fighting The End of The World with Jamie Margolin

My story of activism, burnout, climate anxiety and the importance of finding connection with nature and each other in order to stay in this fight in the long run.

BIO: Jamie Sarai Margolin is a 19-year-old Jewish Colombian-American organizer, activist, author, public speaker and filmmaker. She is co-founder of the international youth climate justice movement called Zero Hour that led the official “Youth Climate Marches” in Washington, DC and 25+ cities around the world during the summer of 2018. Zero Hour has more than 200+ chapters worldwide and has been a leading organization in the climate movement.

Margolin is the author of a book called “Youth To Power: Your Voice and How To Use It,” (youthtopowerbook.com), which has been translated in many languages and sold all over the world. The book serves as a guide to organizing and activism, and is a recipient of the 2020 Gold Medal Nautilus Book Award for YA nonfiction.

Margolin is also a plaintiff on the Our Children’s Trust Youth v. Gov Washington state lawsuit, Aji P. vs. State of Washington, suing the state of Washington for denying her generation their constitutional rights to a livable environment by worsening the climate crisis.

Margolin served as a surrogate for the Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential Campaign, speaking at several campaign rallies (including the 2020 Tacoma Dome rally to an audience of over 17,000 people), filming campaign endorsement videos, and doing outreach to get out the vote for Bernie Sanders. She also was one of the youngest Delegates at the 2020 Democratic Convention.

Margolin is also the director, screenwriter and lead actress in a new web series called ART MAJORS (artmajorsshow.gay), which is a show about a friend group of LGBTQ+ art students struggling with queer love and breaking into the entertainment industry. She is also the host of “Lavender You” (lavenderyou.com), a podcast and online community talking about queer arts and media representation. Margolin is one of Teen Vogue’s “21 Under 21” girls changing the world in 2018, One of People Magazines 25 women changing the world in 2018, Fuse TV’s Latina Trailblazer of 2018, one of The Today Show’s 18 under 18 Groundbreakers of 2019, MTV EMA Generation Change winner of 2019, one of the BBC’s 100 most influential women of 2019, and one of GLAAD’s 20 under 20 LGBTQ+ people changing the world. She is on the OUT 100 list of 2020.

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1:00 p.m. — Using Human-Centered Design to Address Climate Change with Judi Brown

Human-Centered Design (HCD) is a creative, collaborative problem-solving framework that has the capacity to engage multiple stakeholders, particularly those who have been historically excluded from participation. In a local government context, HCD can be an effective strategy for integrating equity and tapping into local knowledge for climate action planning. This interactive talk will explore approaches to developing intersectional engagement plans that meet residents where they are to address the greatest challenge humanity has faced, one community at a time.

BIO: As co-founder and chief impact officer of CivicMakers, Judi Brown brings to her practice nearly 12 years of experience in applied innovation methodologies with social enterprises, nonprofits and government agencies. Her work is grounded in multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral approaches with a lens toward equity and inclusion.

Prior to CivicMakers, Brown worked as a Design Strategist with Collective Invention, a social innovation firm working primarily in education and community development. She honed her applied design thinking and public involvement skills while working on survey development and evaluation services for Zawadisha, a micro-lending fund benefiting female entrepreneurs in Kenya. She also taught the MPA Capstone class at Presidio Graduate School where she earned a Master’s degree in Sustainable Public Administration and Policy.

Brown’s areas of expertise include Applied Human-Centered Design, Service Design, Curriculum Design, Consensus Building, Project Management, Stakeholder Engagement, Impact Evaluation and Facilitation.

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2:00 p.m. — Whiskey is for Drinking, but Water is for Fighting: an Intro to the West’s Most Finite Resource with Laurel Teal

On average, states west of the 100th Meridian receive 1/5th the annual rainfall as the rest of the country. Yet, this region is still home to several of America’s most populous cities, as well as her most productive agricultural land. Why? And with climate change, drought, and population growth ever looming, how can we ensure the future of these population centers? The answer may be surprising. A historian, policy analyst, and member of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Laurel Teal walks you through the American West’s complicated relationship with water and the Myth of the Frontier. Ultimately, this talk makes it clear why the old phrase, “whiskey is for drinking, but water is for fighting” is still relevant today.

BIO: Laurel Kay Teal is a 2017 graduate of the Hastings College, where she was an Irish Fellow (2014), Ms. Bronco (2016) and voted a Who’s Who (2017). She studied under Dr. Bob Amyot and Dr. Rob Babcock. Teal then went on to receive an M.A. in American history from Boston College (2019), where she studied under Dr. Heather Cox Richardson. Teal also holds an MPA in natural resource management from the University of Colorado at Denver (2020). Her capstone, conducted on behalf of Denver Water, analyzes sediment mitigation policy on the upper South Platte River in lieu of catastrophic wildfire. The sediment traps she ultimately recommended to Denver Water sit on the river to this day.

Teal currently works for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Castlewood Canyon State Park. She is working towards a commission as a permanent park ranger. In addition to teaching visitors about the history of the area, she helps manage the park land and groundwater aquifer, responds to emergencies and runs the ranger station and visitor center. When not in the canyon, Teal runs a “side hustle” fermented hot sauce business out of her home kitchen. Teal lives in Castle Rock, Colorado, with her dog, cat and younger brother.

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3:00 p.m. — Finding Excitement and Following It with Katy Ayers

Finding passion looks different for everyone. Katy Ayers shares her excitement for the Kingdom Fungi and the world of possibility it holds. Ayers became intrigued with fungi while researching for a homework assignment but had no idea what was to come. She shared her dream of a fungal canoe and was put in touch with clubs that could fund her dream if she shared it at the Nebraska State Fair. Ayers shares her journey from state fair project to media storm and the impact of finding your passion, setting goals, making plans and turning dreams into reality.

BIO: Katy Ayers is a non-traditional, first-generation bioengineering student at Washington State University and an alum of Central Community College. Ayers gained media attention after growing a 2.3 m canoe, which she named the Myconoe and later earned the title of World’s Largest Fungal Mycelium Canoe. After the success of the Myconoe, Ayers began to work on her next idea, MycHotels, bee hotels grown from a native Nebraska Fungus. The MycHotel Project put more than 25 MycHotels for research purposes in the summer of 2021 with funding through a Nebraska Public Information and Education grant. The hotels will be collected and compared to traditional bee hotels placed in the same areas this winter. Ayers hopes to create habitat for solitary pollinating insects as well as reduce waste streams through reuse with this project.

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7:00 p.m. — Faculty Panel with Dr. Amyot, Dr. Dean, Dr. Blizard, Dr. Weiss and Brian Corr

Student Symposium Committee Members

  • Emma Downing, co-chair
  • Cody Wilson, co-chair
  • Bri King, treasurer
  • Effy Widdifield, secretary
  • Alianna Higgins
  • Kiante Stuart
  • Kinser Rafert
  • Lyette Darville
  • Max Griffel
  • Melbourne Palmer
  • Natalie Watson
  • Nikki DeSeriere


Faculty Sponsor

  • Dr. Jesse Weiss