Challenge Week

About the Theme

Hosted by UCA’s Norbert O. Schedler Honors College, Challenge Week brings to campus a wide range of regional, national, and international thinkers to discuss a specific issue or problem that impacts our society. Speakers present compelling information and arguments, challenging us to see that issue or problem from a new perspective and to take action toward thoughtful change.

Our theme for Challenge Week 2019 is Climate Change: Resiliency and Hope, which will run from Friday, September 27 through Friday, October 4.

Climate change is measurable and, therefore, knowable.  The long-term increase in global temperatures, the amount of glacial ice lost annually around the world, and the rise in sea levels are all physical facts.  Increased precipitation, more droughts and heat waves, and more intense hurricanes are being tracked at local and regional scales.  And yet for many of us climate change can be abstract and just-out-of-reach—a vague and amorphous threat that, depending on the day, is either ignorable or anxiety-producing.  You may look around at your life and your place, and see no connection to Antarctica’s melting ice, or you may understand it yet feel powerless, as an individual, to do anything about it.

Our goals for Challenge Week 2019:

  1. Bring to campus people who view climate change not as a string of measurements, facts, and patterns that are tracked, ‘out there,’ but as the fundamental reality of our shared, everyday lives.
  2. Showcase individuals who have chosen to act and work in this reality with hope for establishing a resilient present and building a resilient future, where everything from our economy to our built environment works to respond to and mitigate the challenges of climate change.
  3. Help us all address fundamental questions: What now? What can I do to make a difference, as an individual and with others in my community? What are actions I can take, tools I can use, to practice hope and establish resiliency?

Speaker and Event Preview

The Science and Art of Climate Change

Friday, September 27, 3:00-4:30, Baum Gallery

 The Science. What do we mean when we say climate change?  What are the current data telling us about earth’s warming?  Why does this matter?  What is the scientific consensus regarding the role human activity has played in driving climate change?  Dr. Jessica Scott, member of the Anthropology Department at the University of Arkansas Little Rock and facilitator for the Climate Reality Project; Dr. Laurie Warren, Lecturer II in Biology, UCA; and Dr. K.C. Larson, Associate Professor in Biology, UCA, will address these questions, 3:00-4:00 pm, Baum Gallery Lecture Hall.

Immediately following The Science, join us for The Art: an unveiling of The Tempestry Project, organized by Dr. Donna Bowman, UCA Honors College, and Dr. Leah Horton, UCA Biology and Honors College, 4:00-4:30 pm, Baum Gallery Exhibit Hall.  The Tempestry project visually and tangibly represents temperature data for a given place through knitted tapestries.  You will be able to see and touch Conway’s average daily high temperature in six different years, each significant in the history of UCA:

1907 — Founding of Arkansas Normal School

1925 — Name change to Arkansas State Teacher’s College

1967 — Name change to State College of Arkansas

1975 — Name change to University of Central Arkansas

2007 — Centennial celebration

2018 — Most recent complete year

The Human Face of Climate Change

Monday, September 30, 4:00-5:30 pm, College of Business Auditorium

 This event will start with light refreshments and a poster display from UCAs University Scholars that explores the intersection between global climate change and ethical citizenship, 4:00-4:30.  At 4:30 we will welcome Dr. Kevin Bales, Professor of Contemporary Slavery and Research Director of the Rights Lab at the University of Nottingham—our keynote speaker from last year’s Challenge Week who detailed the link between our global economy and modern-day slavery.  We are honored to have Dr. Bales back, to draw connections between the human and environmental damage done by global supply chains that rely on slave labor.  He will be followed by Dr. Sharon Mason, Assistant Professor, UCA’s Department of Philosophy and Religion, who will help us put these connections in a framework of hope.  We may despair over the role we play as consumers in driving climate change and human suffering, but is there room for optimism or belief in a better future?

Regional Action

Tuesday, October 1, 6:30-8:00 pm, College of Business Auditorium

Building a sustainable and resilient future in the face of climate change requires action; this panel showcases work being done in Arkansas and across the Deep South.  We will hear from Alsie Parks, Regional Director for the Southeastern African American Farmers’ Organic Network, which recognizes the need for a socially and environmentally just response to climate change.  SAAFON helps Black farmers and Black communities engage “culturally relevant, ancestrally guided, and ecologically sustainable agricultural-based living.”  Ms. Parks will be joined by Chloe Costello Hiley and Kenneth Chad Hiley, both graduates of the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design who have not only studied sustainability but are implementing sustainable methodologies as designers here in Arkansas.

National and International Action:  Keynote Address, Dr. Joshua Farley

Wednesday, October 2, 7:00-8:30 pm, Ida Waldran Auditorium

Dr. Farley is a renowned pioneer in Ecological Economics, having co-authored Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications in 2003 with Dr. Herman Daly, the “father” of this interdisciplinary field.  He is currently at the University of Vermont in Community Development & Applied Economics and Public Administration, and is a Fellow in the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.

Dr. Farley’s research thinks through how local and national economies can be both ecologically possible and “socially, psychologically, and ethically desirable.”  He will bring to us a science-backed story of resilience and hope based on the work he’s done throughout his career, as well as news from his current projects, which includes participation in a Societal Transformation Lab focused on a Green New Deal for Vermont.  He is also about to complete a co-edited book, A Research Action Agenda for Ecological Economics, which will be in print by Fall 2019.

New Stories, New Identities

Thursday, October 3, 6:00-7:30 pm, College of Business Auditorium

The starting point for this panel discussion is an assumption: that in order to build a resilient, sustainable future together, we will need to rethink our expectations for “living a good life” and reassess how we have interacted with each other and the environment, in the past and today.  Quite simply, we need new narratives about our past, present, and future and radically different relationships to our surroundings, each other, and ourselves.

Our panelists will explore how three different disciplines—creative writing, the visual arts, and history—can help us imagine new ways of being, new identities, and new relationships in our climate-changed world.   We are honored to have Ellen McMahon, Professor of Art at the University of Arizona; Dr. Jennie Case, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, UCA; and Dr. Story Matkin-Rawn, Associate Professor of History, UCA.

Making a Change Workshops

Friday, October 4, 3:00-4:30 pm, Student Center

Diana LopezDirector of the Southwest Workers Union, will speak about the work she has done to make sustainable and socially just change in her community, with workers in San Antonio, Texas, and on the international stage, at two United Nations Conventions on Climate Change.  Her talk will inspire the workshops to follow, allowing audience members to engage in one-on-one conversation with local activists and researchers to identify concrete ways they can make a difference.

Diana Lopez, opening remarks—3:00-3:25. 


  • Yes, You Can Make Democracy Work . . . Even in Partisan Times.  Jean Larson, Citizens Climate Lobby.  In this wildly interactive workshop, participants will build and apply the powers that create effective climate conversations and lobby meetings even in our polarized nation.  We’ll start with the power of the personal story, progress to the power of appreciation, and dive into the ultimate power that produces useful conversations.   Then we’ll pull it all together so you’ll walk away confident that your next climate interaction can be one that builds a bridge rather than drives a wedge.
  • Examine Your Stuff: The Difference that Knowing Makes.  Dr. Eric BowneAssistant Professor in Anthropology.  How can you understand the impact your consumption habits have on the environment? How can you lessen those impacts while improving your quality of life? While concentrating on items of regular, daily consumption – food, clothes, and cleaning products – Dr. Bowne will help you navigate global supply chain research strategies, provide you with a list of resources, and suggest a number of simple, easy ways you can alter your lifestyle and reduce your overall consumption.
  • Getting in on the Ground Floor.  Interested in starting a youth movement on UCA’s campus?  In joining forces with students at Hendrix College?  In doing environmental policy and advocacy, as an internship and beyond?  Join Jessica Frazier-Emerson, Hendrix College senior, and Eva Englert-Jessen, Program Coordinator for the Center for Calling and Christian Leadership at Hendrix, for a wide-ranging discussion.  Jessica will share her experience this past summer in Washington D.C., doing faith-based environmental and justice advocacy.  Both Jessica and Eva are also interested in starting a local chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led national political advocacy non-profit.
  • Healing within Our Movement.  Diana Lopez.  This work is challenging and heavy. We operate in spaces that are often racist and sexist, and mental illness like anxiety and depression play a large role among many organizer; how do we cope and support each other through these spaces for inclusion and well-being.  If we are not well, our movement is not well either. Participants will be open to dive deeper into our personal connections to the earth and practice how to incorporate healing practices into our every day organizing efforts.  I’ll share how my organization incorporates culture, spirit and heart into our work as an addition layer towards long term organizing and support. A key piece about organizing is one on one connections, this session offers a reflection towards connecting with your peers beyond the science based approach.

After the workshops, let’s come back together for a concluding discussion: 4:15-4:30.

Education and Action Resources

The Schedler Honors College will post resources from the event on this page after the conclusion of Challenge Week.