The World Affairs Council of Oregon is hosting its International Speaker Series
, which began in 2000, to foster discussion about issues that are pertinent to current events. Although this year's speakers seem to be on the conservative side of the political spectrum — such as General Stanley McChrystal — one promising speaker is environmental activist and eco-feminist Vandana Shiva
. (She also happens to be the only woman presenting in the series this year.) Her speech, Soil Not Oil: Climate Change, Peak Oil, and Food Justice, can be heard at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.
Currently based in Delhi, India, Shiva has been active and taken a leadership role in the environmental conservation movement. She holds a master's degree in the philosophy of science and a PhD in particle physics. She is a leader in the International Forum on Globalization and part of the alter-globalization movement, a social movement that supports global cooperation and interaction but opposes the negative consequences of economic globalization. This deeply connects with her work fighting to conserve the environment, which has been hard-hit by economic globalization.
The organizations, grassroots movements and academic circles that Shiva has contributed to are many. Some of the groups include the Women's Environment and Development Organization, the Third World Network, the Commission on the Future of Food, the Scientific Committee and the Indian People's Campaign against WTO. These are only a portion of Shiva's involvements nationally and internationally.
The amazing thing about Vandana Shiva is that she makes connections between the different aspects of sustainability — how class, race, sex, culture, geographical location and other factors intersect to create a complex vision of global sustainability. It is easy to focus on recycling or composting or using reusable bags, but when it comes down to it, sustainability is about so much more: it's about social and economic justice combined with scientific implications that are influenced by a multitude of factors.
It is safe to say that Shiva's Feb. 23 speech will touch on this matrix of sustainability and global issues. If you are anywhere near Portland, this is an event not to be missed.