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2022 Chicago National Conference - Sessions




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Thursday, July 21
8:20 AM - 9:20 AM
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Ecological Justice: Why Education Is Our Best Defense

McCormick Place - Skyline W375d-e

From A Silent Spring, The Limits to Growth and Population Bomb of the 1960s and 70s to today’s planetary boundary science, overshoot, and creating a safe and just space for humanity, some would say that “the science is in” and that it is pretty gloomy. Additionally, now in the frenetic information age, humans are overwhelmingly aware of the multitude of crises we face as a species. Our collective mental health is tanking. Knowing our predicament is one thing, but knowing what to do about it is another. Education may be one of our most powerful tools. However, delivery, content, and reach are impaired by multiple factors including politics, economics, religion, and the numerous influences affecting everyone’s social construction of knowledge. This presentation will share examples from the fields of environmental, conservation, and humane education and then focus on the potential promise of comprehensive education for ecological justice.

About the Speaker
Sarah BexellSarah M. Bexell is clinical associate professor with the Graduate School of Social Work and Director of Humane Education with the Institute for Human-Animal Connection, both at the University of Denver, Colorado. Sarah is also a faculty member teaching Animal Protection for the Institute for Humane Education at Antioch University New England and senior advisor to the Education Department of the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Pandas, China. She teaches and does research in the areas of ecological justice, humane education, and animal protection.


Sarah Bexell (University of Denver: Denver, CO)

Friday, July 22
3:40 PM - 4:40 PM
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Empower Students with the Sustainable Development Goals

McCormick Place - W183c

Are you looking to fuel student engagement, incorporate real-world problem solving, and build empathy through STEM? If so, please join us to learn how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, student-created learning centers and STEM-based contests promote learner ownership and innovative problem solving. Since the SDGs highlight global inequalities, learning about them builds awareness and develops empathy. This, in turn, encourages students to consider STEM-based solutions to create a more sustainable future that also reduces barriers for underrepresented populations. Our classroom-ready resources allow students to self-select an SDG, become experts about its impact on the global community, and create an informative, interactive learning center. This process increases student interest and engagement and develops leadership skills. As people participate in these student-created centers, they learn about the SDGs and consider positive solutions for each. Ultimately, learning center participants are encouraged to become SDG ambassadors who spread global awareness. In addition, we will share how a systems-based approach for STEM contest integration not only forges STEM pathways, incorporates science and engineering practices, and expands career awareness, but also creates future-ready citizens who are equipped with skills to increase prosperity within our global community.

Takeaways: Learn how the Sustainable Development Goals and the Engineering Design Process promote empathy, increase classroom participation, and spark innovative student-based solutions that reduce global barriers within underrepresented populations in order to create real-world change.


Elizabeth Kaleta (John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School: Aurora, IL), Debby Nelson (Rotolo Middle School: Batavia, IL)