Mini Conference

Sustainability Initiatives

Mini Conference

Earth Justice: Ways of Caring for Our Common Home

In celebration of Barry University’s 75th Anniversary, students, faculty, staff and community members came together to learn about critical issues in climate change and environmental sustainability.


Missed one of the sessions? We invite you to watch the videos below featuring our inspiring panelists and keynote speaker as they engaged the audience in thought provoking ideas

2016 Earth Justice Mini Conference


Keynote Speaker

Cynthia Barnett

Environmental journalist Cynthia Barnett is the author of three award-winning books on water:Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.; Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis; and her latest, Rain: A Natural and Cultural History, nominated for the National Book Award and the 2016 PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing.

Mirage and Blue Revolution, have been named by The Boston Globe as one of the top 10 U.S. science books of 2011. The Globe describes Barnett's author persona as "part journalist, part mom, part historian, and part optimist." The Los Angeles Times writes that she "takes us back to the origins of our water in much the same way, with much the same vividness and compassion as Michael Pollan led us from our kitchens to potato fields and feed lots of modern agribusiness."

Barnett's work appears in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Salon, Politico, Discover, and many other publications. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism and master's in environmental history, both from the University of Florida, and spent a year studying fresh water as a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her numerous journalism awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi prize for investigative magazine reporting and eight Green Eyeshade Awards, which recognize outstanding journalism in 11 southeastern states. She lives in Gainesville with her husband and their two children, and teaches Environmental Journalism in UF's College of Journalism and Communications.


Cynthia Barnett




Sister Judy Byron, OP

Judy Byron, OP, an Adrian Dominican Sister, is the director of the Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment, and the program director of the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center (IPJC) in Seattle, Washington. Sponsored by 20 religious communities, IPJC is celebrating 25 years of creating a just and sustainable Earth community.


Sister Judy Byron, OP

Sister Carol Coston, OP

Carol Coston, OP, currently serves as Coordinator of Permaculture at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. She is the author of PERMACULTURE: Finding Our Own Vine and Fig Trees; co-founder of Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center in Texas; and was the founding director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, DC.


Sister Carol Coston

Sister Elise Garcia, OP

Elise D. García, OP, is the director of communications for the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She co-founded and co-directed Santuario Sisterfarm, an eco-spirituality center in the Texas Hill Country dedicated to cultivating diversity – biodiversity and cultural diversity. A former vice president of Common Cause, she has served as a communications and management consultant to numerous nonprofits, including Miami-Dade’s Environmental Ethics Institute, NETWORK, Bread for the World, and Women’s Ordination Conference, among others.

Sister Elise Garcia

Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP

Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP, is the director of ecology for Dignity Health, one of the nation’s largest health care systems. Headquartered in San Francisco, Dignity Health provides patient-centered care at more than 380 care centers, including 39 acute care hospitals, located in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Sister Mary Ellen is responsible for directing Dignity Health’s sustainability initiatives and the development and implementation of systemwide policies and practices that promote care for Earth and use of sustainable resources. In her role, she facilitates communication networks among her colleagues and works closely with various hospital systems and environmental organizations throughout the country to raise awareness of health care’s impact on the environment and to prmote programs that proactively address issues of sustainability.


Sister Pat Siemen, OP

Pat Siemen, OP, is a Dominican Sister from Adrian, Michigan, and a civil attorney. Since 2006, Sister Pat has been the founding director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at the Barry University School of Law. The Center’s mission is to advance legal systems and a culture that protect the inherent rights of people and Earth to exist, thrive, and regenerate. She speaks, teaches, and writes on these themes and did a TEDx talk on “The Rights of Nature” in 2013. She is a member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and a founding board member of the Earth Law Center.
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Sister Pat Siemen

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