Professor Robin Morris Collin is keynote speaker at three conferences

Robin Morris Collin, the first professor to teach sustainability at an American law school, is a keynote speaker at three conferences throughout the West this fall on the issues of sustainability and environmental justice.

Morris Collin, recently named the Norma J. Paulus Professor of Law, spoke at the 18th annual Northwest Public Employees diversity conference in Portland last week. The conference included firefighters, police, teachers, public health workers and other public employees, as well as elected officials and heads of local government agencies.

The lecture was on sustainable diversity – the idea that demographic trends show the U.S. will become even more racially diverse, and that forgiveness by traditionally underrepresented groups of past environmental injustices is key to creating sustainable diversity.

“I define forgiveness as giving up one’s legitimate claim for payback – financial, and in terms of compensation or karma,” Morris Collin said, “but there is an absolute moral responsibility for people who have profited from the fruits of our labors to pay it forward. It’s time for the blame game to stop, but pay it forward.”

Morris Collin also spoke at the annual conference of the Oregon and Washington chapters of the American Planning Association. The topic was the relationship between equality and sustainability, and the importance of including poor people, people of color and other vulnerable populations in planning events such as neighborhood development and disaster planning.

“Planning for this requires certain core competencies,” Morris Collin said. “Environmental justice and cultural competencies – being able to look at the distribution of benefits and burdens and demand a true and full accounting – are essential.”

Morris Collin also will speak at Arizona State University on Nov. 17th. The title of her talk is “Sustainability and Environmental Justice: The Challenges of Equity.” She will talk about the need for collaboration in both movements.