WSG News Blog

A New Symposium to Work Towards Equity and Justice in Environmental Fields

August 22, 2019

The Salish Sea Equity and Justice Symposium, to be held November 14-15, 2019, aims to center historically marginalized and underrepresented voices while creating space for ongoing dialogues.

Addressing inequity and working toward environmental justice is essential to a successful environmental movement. Although professionals in this field are aware and concerned about issues related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), there is an overall lack of understanding for how to integrate these concepts into the environmental workforce. 

Washington Sea Grant, University of Washington’s EarthLab, Cascadia Consulting Group and the Seattle Aquarium are proud to sponsor the first Salish Sea Equity and Justice Symposium this fall. The two-day event aims to help move this conversation forward by centering historically underrepresented and marginalized voices within the environmental field in the Salish Sea and Pacific Northwest Coast Region, and creating space for ongoing dialogues related to equity and justice issues.

Salish Sea Equity and Justice Symposium community of practice members at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

The idea for the Salish Sea Equity and Justice Symposium was hatched after a panel on DEI at the 2018 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (SSEC). The panel had a packed room and an engaged audience. “We wanted to take advantage of that momentum,” explains Melissa Watkinson, a Symposium advisor and social scientist at Washington Sea Grant. The panelists continued collaborative efforts following the SSEC and formed the Salish Sea Equity and Justice Community of Practice. Other members of the community of practice, who now make up the organizing body of the Salish Sea Equity and Justice Symposium, include Sara Breslow from EarthLab, Michael Chang from the Makah Tribe, Ava Holliday from the Avarna Group, Nancy Huizar from Got Green, ​Dana Wu/吳 淑 如 from the Seattle Aquarium, and symposium planner Jasmmine Ramgotra from Culture SHIFT. 

“We think it is important that DEI in the Salish Sea  is not a one-off engagement, but rather a broader effort with continuous events to help shape the future of the environmental field,” Watkinson says.  

The opening night reception on Thursday, November 14 is a public event titled Change From Within: Diversifying the Environmental Movement. The event features the debut of a film which explores the lack of diversity in the environmental field and solutions for improvement in the cross-disciplinary format of contemporary dance. Seattle researcher and choreographer Jasmmine Ramgotra creates a movement-based representation of interviews she conducted with leaders of Seattle’s environmental community over five months, including individuals in government, NGO’s, business and academia. Using the interview audio as a sound score, and dancers to communicate the message, the piece presents clear takeaways about how to create positive change on an individual level. Originally created as a live-performance, the project will premiere as a screen dance and facilitated resonance workshop at Seattle Aquarium. 

Change From Within: Diversifying the Environmental Movement 

Thursday, November 14, 2019
6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Seattle Aquarium
1483 Alaskan Way
Seattle, WA 98101

Tickets are offered on a sliding scale ($0-15)


Salish Sea Equity and Justice Symposium

Friday, November 15, 2019
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ– Intellectual House, University of Washington
4249 Whitman Court Northeast
Seattle, WA 98105

Registration fee: $55. Scholarships are available. 


The Symposium on Friday, November 15 is intended for environmental researchers and educators, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, municipalities, Tribes and First Nations, practitioners and consulting groups whose work is within the Salish Sea and Pacific Northwest Coast region. The event will feature sessions and presentations focused on three themes: centering equity and justice in community engagement, institutional policies to address systemic and structural inequities within the environmental movement, and power structures and how they influence knowledge/research production. 

For more information, visit

Contact Symposium planner Jasmmine Ramgotra with further questions, ideas or opportunities, including to plan a meeting to discuss collaboration, partnership or sponsorship: