Bentley U students host ‘festival’ to make climate change activism more 'inclusive'

At the school’s ‘People for the Planet Festival,’ attendants ‘engaged with student-generated art and creative work to spark conversations on the intersection of identity and the climate crisis.’

The event was inspired by Leah Thomas, an activist whose organization, the Intersectional Environmentalist, is focused on ‘achieving climate justice by amplifying historically excluded voices.’

This March, Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts held a “People for the Planet Festival” in which participants “engaged with student-generated art and creative work to spark conversations on the intersection of identity and the climate crisis,” according to Bentley University’s Newsroom. 

The Newsroom claimed that the inspiration for the festival came from Leah Thomas, founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, which Thomas describes as “a platform and resource hub that aims to advocate for environmental justice, provide educational resources surrounding intersectional environmentalism, and promote inclusivity and accessibility within environmental education and movements in 2020 - which has since become a leading resource for diverse and accessible climate education.”

[RELATED: Climate change extremists interrupt OSU president’s speech, demand divestment from Israel & fossil fuels]

The Intersectional Environmentalist’s “About” section states: “Grounded in our mission to increase awareness and access to education about intersectional environmentalism and drive support toward grassroots environmental justice efforts, we build programs and partnerships that seek to empower communities that are far too often overlooked in the environmental sector.”

The page also lists “Our Guiding Framework” as “achieving climate justice by amplifying historically excluded voices and approaching environmental education, policy, and activism with equity, inclusion and restorative justice in mind.”

The website’s main page allows users to “Sort By Topic, Identity + Location,” with categories including “Food Justice,” “BIPOC Identity,” “Immigrant Identity,” “Latine Identity,” and “Queer/Trans Identity.” 

Thomas is the author of a book also called “The Intersectional Environmentalist,” which “examines the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism, and privilege, and promotes awareness of the fundamental truth that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people -- especially those most often unheard.” According to the website, the book has had wide influence in education, having been “adopted into classrooms around the U.S. [and ]selected as the common experience read for UCLA in 2022.”

[RELATED: Duke Divinity School hosts interfaith retreat to address ‘global moral crisis’ of climate change]

Roughly 200 individuals attended the festival, which included “interactive activities” and “performances and exhibits,” the school’s Newsroom reported. 

The Newsroom also related that the event was hosted by the school’s Office of Sustainability and sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Department of Natural and Applied Sciences, among others.

Campus Reform contacted Bentley University and Leah Thomas for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.