Vertex Symposium

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, welcomed attendees at the center’s symposium, Sustainability, Health Equity, and Antiracism in the 21st Century. Photo by Dave Green


Thank you to all who joined us virtually and in person on Friday, September 30, 2022 for “
Sustainability, Health Equity, and Antiracism in the 21st Century,” a symposium presented by the Center for Antiracist Research and proudly supported by the Vertex Foundation.

Monica Wang, the Chair of Narrative at the BU Center for Antiracist Research, was the Symposium Chair. Photo by Dave Green


This symposium explored how climate change, racism, and health are inextricably linked and future directions for sustainability and justice. Interactive keynotes and panels featured national and local leaders in environmental justice representing the sciences, policy, health care, community, and industry. The symposium, chaired by Dr. Monica L. Wang, unpacked the role of racism on environmental health inequities and engaged the audience in thought-provoking conversation on innovative, collaborative solutions to promote sustainability and health equity through an antiracist lens.

Fireside Chats:

Fireside #1: Moving from Denialism to Climate Justice and Antiracism
Speakers: Drs. Patricia Fabian, Tamarra James-Todd, and Ibram X. Kendi, Moderated by Kimberly Atkins Stohr

Photo by Dave Green

This fireside panel discussed the connections between racism and climate change. Perspectives from leaders in antiracism, environmental health, and medicine discussed how climate change magnifies existing vulnerabilities and presented initiatives that center the marginalized communities.

Fireside #2: Indigenous Communities, Authentic Academic-Community Partnerships, and Environmental Justice
Speakers: Ruth Ann Norton, Dr. Rosalyn LaPier, and Dr. Darren Ranco, Moderated by Sonya Soni

Photo by Dave Green

This fireside panel featured a conversation at the intersection of academia and community about the challenges of the ecological crisis and injustices explicitly experienced by Indigenous peoples. Indigenous experts and community researchers working in environmental justice discussed how they are mobilizing to address environmental racism and build a more sustainable future.

Fireside #3: A Conversation with Community Leaders: Policy, Health Care, and Science
Speakers: Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, Dr. Thea James, and Senator Ed Markey, Moderated by Katharine Lusk

Photo by Dave Green

This fireside panel included speakers dedicated to understanding climate change as a public health crisis. Local leaders in policy, academia, and health care provided diverse insights on targeting the urgency of climate change while addressing racial and economic inequities in the quest for sustainability.

Fireside #4: Collaborative Approaches for Sustainability and Health Equity
Speakers: Julia Matthews, Rebecca Pearl-Martinez, and Muhammad Umar,  Moderated by Dr. Monica L. Wang

Photo by Dave Green

Concluding this symposium was a fireside keynote dedicated to the future directions for sustainability and health equity. With perspectives from the consumer industry to health care, panelists discussed various approaches to cultivate environmentally responsible companies and promoted increased access to healthy living. 

Featured Speakers and Moderators: