Editor's note: The location for the Notre Dame Forum event on Sept. 10 has changed from Jordan Auditorium to Washington Hall.
To launch the 2021 Notre Dame Forum, NBC News’ chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson will host a “fireside chat” with U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, in a keynote event, “Call to Action: Crossing the Political Divide to Address Climate Challenges,” from 3 to 4 p.m. Sept. 10 in Washington Hall.
This year’s ND Forum, “Care for Our Common Home: Just Transition to a Sustainable Future,” focuses on not only the environmental threats posed by climate change, but also the costly economic, social and political disruption that it brings. As Pope Francis wrote in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Siˊ: “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
“As we launch this year’s ND Forum, we are fortunate to hear from Sen. Coons, a leader who has reached across the aisle to address the urgent issues of climate change and just transition,” Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “I am deeply grateful to both Sen. Coons and Anne Thompson for providing us with this opportunity to reflect deeply on the next steps we might take, as individuals and as a nation.”
University faculty and guest speakers will set the stage for the first Notre Dame Forum keynote with three events Sept. 7 to 9, offering an overview of the encyclical, examining teaching and research on campus connected to the problems outlined by Pope Francis, discussing common work and opportunities, and exploring the role of international cooperation and security. Details are available here.
First elected to the Senate in 2010, Coons has made climate challenges one of his legislative priorities. In addition to founding and chairing the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus with Sen. Mike Braun, Coons has led several pieces of bipartisan legislation, including the Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnerships Act, Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act and the Financing Our Energy Future Act, which would take important steps to support energy efficiency and clean energy research, development and deployment.
Coons earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and political science from Amherst College, his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and a master’s degree in ethics from Yale Divinity School. He serves on the Senate’s Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics committees.
The environmental affairs correspondent for NBC News since 2007, Thompson covered all aspects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and has traveled the globe reporting on alternative fuels, global warming, land usage, new technologies and other topics related to the environment and climate change. She previously served as chief financial correspondent for NBC News and is the recipient of the Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial journalism.
A Notre Dame graduate and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 2010, Thompson was a reporter for four years at WNDU-TV in South Bend, as well as with the NBC affiliates in St. Louis and Detroit.
Among many sustainability initiatives underway at Notre Dame, the University has co-sponsored with the Vatican a series of conversations on energy transition with executives from many of the world’s leading energy producers and investors, resulting in 2019 with participants signing statements of support for carbon pricing and disclosures on climate change risk.
Through programs such as Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative and ND Energy, University scholars and researchers work to find solutions to society’s complex environmental challenges that acknowledge and address the importance of both human welfare and environmental health and help the world move toward a more sustainable future.
On campus and in the local community, the University has in recent years dramatically expanded its sustainability measures, including ending the use of coal at its power plant and making substantial investments in geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, solar projects, green roofs and more, all of which have resulted in a more than 50 percent reduction in its carbon footprint. The Office of Sustainability works with a wide array of student groups and partners across campus to ensure that the University is a leader in sustainable operations, education and research.
Since its establishment in 2005, the Notre Dame Forum has invited a campus-wide dialogue about issues of importance to the University, the nation and the larger world, including the challenges and opportunities of globalization, the role of presidential debates, immigration and the place of faith in a pluralistic society.
More information is available here.