Students Travel to Claremont for "Alternative Futures" Conference

Seniors in Ronan Hallowell's Media Literacy class and Mehnaz Sahibizada's World Religions class recently traveled to the Claremont School of Theology (CST) to participate in the "Alternative Futures: Pathways Toward Ecological Civilization" conference. The conference was produced by the Center for Process Studies and EcoCiv ( and was co-sponsored by the newly launched Program for Interdisciplinary Studies at New Roads High School. Ronan Hallowell, the Director of the Program for Interdisciplinary Studies, co-organized the conference and arranged for the students' participation.

Students had a chance to listen to, and interact with thinkers and professionals from many sectors to envision positive futures that can address social and ecological crises like climate change and economic inequality. CST professor Philip Clayton started the day with an overview of the conference before students were welcomed by the internationally renowned eco-philosopher John B. Cobb Jr. who founded the Center For Process Studies in 1973. Dr. Cobb is known for his path-breaking trans-disciplinary scholarship that includes co-authoring an influential text in ecological economics with former World Bank economist Herman Daly. Dr. Cobb joined New Roads students for lunch to share some stories about growing up in Japan from 1925-1939 and returning to America to finish high school shortly before the start of US involvement in World War II.

After talks from Andy Shrader, Director of Environmental Affairs, Water Policy & Sustainability for L.A. city councilman Paul Koretz, and retired University of Maryland political economy professor Gar Alperovitz, New Roads students had the opportunity to present their insights and reflections on alternative futures to other conference participants.

New Roads parent Mary Beth Trautwein says,"Though we face critical social and environmental problems that can feel insurmountable, there is a strong, growing will for change. People in LA and around the world are eroding the current destructive social and economic system in simple, powerful ways. The conference gave me hope that a new, human-centered story is emerging — a story to bring us together within and as part of nature."

Pictured: Senior Shaellen Franco presents ideas on how to cultivate constructive values and worldviews that can contribute to the creation of positive eco-civilizations in the future