Climate change has been acknowledged as a major threat to international peace and security. From natural disasters to economic disruption, climate change has become a catalyst for social inequity and even violent conflict worldwide. The global scale and far reaching consequences of the climate crisis pose a particularly difficult challenge to journalists who attempt to provide the public with the information they need to make sensible decisions.

feature in Nieman Reports noted that covering environmental justice requires meaningful crossovers between news beats as all sorts of systemic inequities are entangled with environmental harms. Journalists reporting on the climate crisis, then, find themselves having to articulate the complex workings of transnational discrimination along with challenging scientific debates in a highly polarized political moment... An absolute feat as journalism itself endures a financial sustainability crisis across the globe.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

4:00-5:30 pm central
via Microsoft Teams

Registration Now Open

In this year's Nieman Symposium, we gather journalists, experts, and environmental justice activists to discuss how journalism can be best deployed to push for better responses to the climate crisis. Panelists will reflect on how journalism has facilitated and hindered the work of environmental justice activists and organizations as well as discuss how journalists can empower audiences - particularly minoritized ones - to enact change.


Brenda ColeyBrenda Coley

Brenda Coley is currently the co-executive director of Milwaukee Water Commons. Over the years, she has served in various positions in the nonprofit and academic sectors and brings a longstanding commitment to social justice and community engagement practices. Considering herself to be a servant leader she has served in many leadership positions been a nonprofit director, an academic research coordinator project manager with expertise in community leadership development and organizational capacity building.

Before joining Milwaukee Water Commons, Coley was sole proprietor of Brenda Coley & Associates, helping local and national organizations build the cultural competence to approach marginalized populations around health, leadership development, and social justice issues.  In addition, she has served on many community engagement boards and public health initiatives—specifically focused on equity, and health disparities within the LGBTQ and other minority communities in Milwaukee, and through-out the country. She is a spokesperson and educator regarding environmental justice implementation, anti-racism practices, community engagement strategies and encouragement of  intersectional environmentalism among her peers.

Coley is committed to exploring the influences of one’s own culture and understanding ways in which groups of people are treated in society and building a multi-racial anti-racist environmental movement—using that knowledge to develop strategies to effectively engage diverse groups of people in important community issues.

Yessenia FunesYessenia Funes

Yessenia Funes is an environmental journalist covering our ecological crises through an intersectional lens. She's presently the climate director of Atmos, an independent nonprofit magazine focused on where climate and culture meet. There, she publishes and curates the newsletter and vertical The Frontline, which zooms into climate and environmental justice. She has also written for The Guardian, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Earther, Grist, HuffPost, and more.



Dr. Samantha MajhorSamantha Majhor

Samantha Majhor, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of english at Marquette University, specializing in contemporary Native American literature. She organizes and serves as a faculty mentor for the Marquette's Indigeneity Lab, particularly supervising the Native American Boarding Schools in Context project and consulting on the Wild Rice Revitalization project. Her current book project, explores the portrayal of natural and cultural materials like beaded dresses, houses, books, and bodies in prose and poetry by Native writers. She is an advocate for indigenous language revitalization efforts and a student of Dakota language. 

About the Moderator

Dr. Ayleen Cabas Mijares

Ayleen Cabas-Mijares, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of journalism and media studies and a faculty fellow of the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Marquette University. She worked as a reporter and copy editor of a national women’s magazine in Venezuela, her home country, before coming to the U.S. to pursue her graduate studies. Dr. Cabas-Mijares graduated with a M.S. in Journalism from Ohio University and a doctorate from the Missouri School of Journalism. Her research interests focus on the critical examination of the role of media and journalism in social change. Specifically, Dr. Cabas-Mijares investigates media activism in Latin America and the Latinx diaspora.

About the Nieman Symposium

The Lucius W. Nieman Symposium, named after the founder of The Milwaukee Journal, Lucius W. Nieman, is an annual event sponsored by the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication. 

The Nieman Symposium and Speaker Series is currently chaired by Dr. Ana Garner, Marquette University Professor of Journalism and Department Chair of Journalism and Media Studies. Past Nieman Chairs include Dr. Bonnie Brennen, former Professor of Journalism at Marquette University; Philip Seib, Professor of Journalism at USC Annenberg; Richard H. Leonard of The Milwaukee Journal; Albion Ross of The New York Times; and Scott Klug, former U. S. congressman and CEO of Trails Media Group.