Pomona College prof to discuss injustice case at conference

Char Miller will talk about the plight of Hispanic neighborhoods in Texas and how grassroots efforts reversed environmental injustice and social inequality.
Char Miller will talk about the plight of Hispanic neighborhoods in Texas and how grassroots efforts reversed environmental injustice and social inequality.

Feb. 12, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) What happens when a grassroots organization takes on a Texas city hall and challenges discriminatory policy governing flood control channels?

The tides are turned, so to speak, and the language of environmental injustice  is used to tackle and defeat social inequality. On Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. in Cossentine Hall 100, Pomona College environmental analysis Professor Char Miller will bring to life the experience of Hispanic neighborhoods in San Antonio, Texas that fell victim to flood control channel policies focused on protecting white neighborhoods. A grassroots organization from a major Westside barrio in the early 1970s challenged  and ultimately reversed public policy.

Miller’s plenary address, “Streetscape Environmentalism,” serves as a campus-wide keynote for La Sierra University’s second annual Natures 2010 Graduate Humanities Conference. La Sierra’s English and Communication Department is organizing the event. This year’s conference theme is “The Life of the Text: Creation, Reception and Explication” and mainly focuses on ecocriticism.

Miller will also give a seminar on academic publication for La Sierra faculty and conference participants at 12:30 in the Cactus Room. His talk is titled “Making Book: Gifford Pinchot and the Historian’s Craft.”

“I will be talking about why I wrote the book in the way I did; why I chose certain episodes to highlight key moments in Gifford Pinchot's political activism; and why in the Age of Reagan I began to write a biography of a Green Republican,” Miller said. He’ll also discuss the manuscript’s circuitous route to publication.  Miller serves as director of the Environmental Analysis Program at Pomona College and is the W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis.

The daylong conference is a meeting of the minds for graduate students. They will arrive from schools around the country to present research papers on a wide variety of topics derived from programs in English, history, American studies, environmental analysis, creative writing and French. Presentation titles run the gamut from “Tracing Jane Austen’s Reception in Early 19th Century America Alagona,” to “Educating Readers through Rhetoric and Lessons: Hustling and Street Talk Wisdom in the Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

Participating graduate students, 26 in total, will include individuals from Brigham Young University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They will join fellow presenters from La Sierra University, University of California, Riverside, Claremont Graduate University, California Baptist University, California State University Fullerton, University of California, Irvine and Mt. San Antonio College.

“This is actually my first graduate conference. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UW-Eau Claire is providing me with funding for travel to this conference so I am very excited to have this opportunity,” said Melissa Castillo, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She learned about La Sierra’s Natures Conference through the University of Pennsylvania Web site and felt the event was a “good fit” with her research. Castillo will present the paper derived from the autobiography of Malcolm X.

Castillo found intriguing the attention and detail Malcolm X used in his autobiography to describe his experiences in the world of hustling. “…this portion of the narrative gave him the space to articulate various lessons he learned while hustling , which led me to conclude that he is attempting to use his experience as a hustler to educate his readers about oppression in society,” Castillo explained.

Lora Geriguis, conference faculty sponsor and director of graduate studies for English and Communication at La Sierra, is spearheading the annual Natures Conference program. The English department promoted the conference and sought participants through graduate program advisors at local institutions, through fellow students and with an announcement on a conference information clearinghouse section of the University of Pennsylvania Website.

The number of participants in the fledgling annual conference, now in its second year, have increased from last year when 24 students presented papers. The event provides opportunity for students to network and helps bolster students’ applications to doctoral programs, Geriguis said.

La Sierra students Megan McDonough, Tresecka Campbell and Whitni Roche are respectively serving as the this year’s conference chair, program editor and panel organizer. La Sierra alumna and lecturer Tiffany Hutabarat is graphic designer for event materials. “For our own masters in English students this [conference at La Sierra] gives them an opportunity to experience a conference from the inside out,” said Gerigius.

The Natures Conference paper presentation panel sessions will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 5 p.m. Sessions will take place in the Dining Commons’ Cactus Room and in AD223 in the Administration Building. See attached schedule and check back for graduate students’ insights into their research topics.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)


  • Last update on  February 18, 2010