Virtual Visit with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis 

A virtual conversation with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson 

Thursday, February 11, 7:00-8:30 pm 

AEJ + AWCS> Watch the recording 

The Creative Justice Institute and Climate Stories Collaborative are thrilled to bring an inspiring voice to our campus this spring—Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson. Dr. Johnson is a leading voice in the climate conversation and co-editor of the new anthology All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, a powerful collection of writings by women spanning backgrounds, approaches, and generations at the forefront of the climate movement.

The climate crisis is an enormous tangle of problems, born of and amplifying injustices, including racial injustices. The daily news on these problems can cause feelings of overwhelm, so we must counter that by stoking our inspiration to participate in the transformations necessary for a just and livable future. Feed your inspiration for action by joining us for a virtual conversation with Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, marine biologist, policy expert, and leader/cultivator of the climate movement (see bio below). Appalachian students Omiah Mitchell, Sophie Fox and Justin Sykes will join faculty Cara Hagan and Laura England to co-host this conversation.

Sandbox Session: We will follow this conversation with an "All We Can Save" themed Sandbox Session the next morning. Sandbox sessions are opportunities for inter-departmental, intergenerational groups of faculty, staff, and students to come together over ideas and concepts brought to the table by members of our college community. Centered around one burning question—or a question that is specific, relevant and generative—groups build knowledge, cultivate solutions, and cultivate new ways relating to each other and our world with creativity at the center. Register in advance for this Sandbox Session to be held Friday, Feb. 12 at 9:30 a.m. and led by Creative Justice Institute founder Cara Hagan.

We are grateful to the following cosponsors for making this event possible:

College of Fine & Applied Arts                 

Department of Sustainable Development

Walker College of Business

Department of Biology

College of Arts & Sciences

Department of Communication

Reich College of Education

Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Office of Sustainability

Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts 


Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities, and founder and CEO of OceanCollectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions. She recently co-created theBlue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. She is co-creator and co-host of the podcast How to Save a Planet, co-editor of the anthology All We Can Save, co-founder of The All We Can Save Project, and she has written and presented widely on hope, strategy, and the intersections of race, racism and the climate crisis. 

Dr. Johnson earned a B.A. from Harvard University in Environmental Science and Public Policy, and a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology, with a dissertation on the ecology, socio-economics, and policy of sustainably managing coral reefs. For her research, she was awarded fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Switzer Foundation, and American Association of University Women. She has been named to the Grist 50, UCSD 40 Under 40 Alumni, and Elle’s 27 Women Leading on Climate. Outside Magazine called her “the most influential marine biologist of our time.” As co-director of partnerships for the March for Science, Dr. Johnson created a coalition of over 300 organizations that inspired over 1 million people around the world to take to the streets to support the role of science in policy making. 

She is the proud daughter of a teacher/farmer and an architect/potter. Her work has been featured in The New York TimesThe Atlantic Outside Magazine, and Nature magazine. Her op-eds have been published in The New York Times Washington PostLos Angeles Times,The Guardian, and Huffington Post, and she blogs on Scientific American. She is a passionate advocate for coastal communities, and builds solutions for ocean justice and our climate crisis.


The Creative Justice Institute (CJI) encourages faculty, staff and students to collaborate and reimagine our culture, work toward a more just and inclusive future using our innovation and creative energy. The CJI was founded in 2020 by Cara Hagan, the College of Fine and Applied Arts Dean’s Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Dance Studies. The CJI incorporates the possibilities that the arts, humanities and design offer our community in working toward real, systemic change. 

The Climate Stories Collaborative (CSC) is a transdisciplinary learning community aimed at growing the capacity of faculty and students to use a variety of creative media to tell compelling climate stories, including the stories of those who are affected by, and/or taking action to address, climate change. The project began in the spring of 2017 in the College of Fine & Applied Arts, but is now university-wide in scope. Collaborative co-facilitators include Laura England (Sustainable Development), Derek Davidson (Theatre & Dance), and Jennie Carlisle (Art).