WWU’s Fairhaven College Announces Spring Slate of World Issues Forum Speakers

Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies will host the Spring 2023 World Issues Forum (WIF) on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. through May 17 in the Fairhaven College Auditorium (FA300A) unless otherwise noted. The forum will also be accessible via Zoom, and is free and open to the public.

Since its start in September 2001, the WIF has shed light on a number of world issues and hosted speakers to discuss different topics. For the Spring 2023 forum, speakers will cover topics relating to “borders and belonging” and talk about subjects such as Indigenous marine foodways, transboundary water governance, social and ecological justice, shared waterways, climate refugees and asylees, Indigenous geographies and settler borders, the Jay Treaty and Indigenous education rights, and Fairhaven’s Adventure Learning Grant.

The forum will be open to both members of campus as well as community members, either via Zoom or in the Fairhaven College Auditorium.

The upcoming WIF speakers and the dates of their presentations are:

Emma S. Norman: The Power of Water: Critical Reflections on the Columbia River Treaty

Fairhaven Auditorium, Wednesday, April 12, 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

The original version of the Columbia River Treaty was negotiated without the consideration, consent or inclusion of the tribes and First Nations impacted by the treaty. The Columbia River Treaty is now currently under renegotiation. Despite the tribes and First Nations having a greater role in the negotiation process, the main treaty signatories are still the U.S. and Canadian governments. This presentation covers the impacts of outdated legal and political structures, the historical legacy of the treaty itself, and opportunities to remedy both the past and ongoing injustices.

Emma S. Norman is the department chair of the Native Environmental Science program at Northwest Indian College. She is the author of “Governing Transboundary Water: Canada, the United States and Indigenous communities,” and she works with Indigenous communities to protect sacred waterways, uphold treaty trust responsibilities, and more.


The Duncan Dam in BC, one of the many dams across the Columbia River and its tributaries impacted by the Columbia River Treaty.

Morna McEachern and Stan de Mello: Social work across the 49th parallel: Big Salmon River and Columbia River Treaty modernization

Fairhaven Auditorium, Wednesday, April 19, 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

This presentation will explore the challenges to social and environmental justice that are inherent in the stewardship of the Big Salmon River. The discussion will also explore the understanding of the Columbia River Treaty, currently being modernized between Canada and the U.S. McEachern and de Mello will also touch on two previous courses and one future field course that focuses on the challenges of the Columbia River Treaty.

McEachern and de Mello have worked as instructors of comparative social justice and social work practices for years. “Social Work Across the 49th” is a project focusing on the decolonization of the 49th parallel through education works in social work and social justice. The Columbia River Treaty field course is one project in this work.


Niiyokamigaabaw Deondre Smiles: Imaginary lines – Indigenous Geographies across the boundaries of settler states

Fairhaven Auditorium, Wednesday, April 26, 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

In this talk, Smiles will discuss the ways that the imposition of colonial borders in the U.S. and Canada has broken Indigenous relationships within and between nations, as well as other ecological and political impacts.

Niiyokamigaabaw Deondre Smiles (he/they) is an assistant professor at the University of Victoria in the Department of Geography. He is a citizen of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and focuses his work on critical Indigenous geographies and their relationship to the environment.


Jane McAdam: Responding to climate mobility through International Law – Prospects and Pitfalls

Fairhaven Auditorium, Wednesday, May 3, 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

This talk will explore the extent to which international law provides solutions for people who are displaced by impacts of climate change or disasters, and what interventions are needed. The talk will also explore the suite of legal and policy responses required to ensure that when people’s homes and lives are at risk, their rights, culture and identity are protected.

Jane McAdam is the director of Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. She is recognized internationally for her

leadership on legal responses to climate-related displacement and her scholarship on forced migration.


Michael O’Shea: 225 Years in the Making: How Canadian Universities Honor the Jay Treaty Through Cross-Border Tuition Policies

Fairhaven Auditorium, Wednesday, May 10, 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

This presentation will look at how a handful of Canadian universities have adopted policies to extend domestic tuition rates to Indigenous students living in territories claimed by the U.S., and how other Canadian universities may follow suit.

Michael O’Shea is a scholar and higher education practitioner. He has been awarded a Fulbright student award and SSHRC graduate award for his research on how Canadian universities can act on their historical treaty obligations to support Indigenous students across the U.S.-Canada border.


Jordan Carey, Bella Millikan and Carlee Heger: Fairhaven College Adventure Learning Grant recipients

Fairhaven Auditorium, Wednesday, May 17, 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.

In this presentation, Fairhaven College Adventure Learning Grant (ALG) recipients Carey, Millikan and Heger will talk about each of their journeys across the globe.

Carey’s presentation is titled “Adventures in Portugal and the Balkans” and she will discuss her journey through Portugal and the Balkans as she volunteered at a number of hostels as well as in Belgrade, Serbia at a center providing laundry services and showers to asylum seekers and locals experiencing homelessness. Carey will graduate from Western’s Fairhaven College in the spring of 2023 with an interdisciplinary concentration titled “Intersectional Social Science and Multimedia Storytelling with a Global Lens.” She is a nanny, dog sitter and studio assistant at the WWU library’s Hacherl Research and Writing Studio.

Millikan, whose presentation is titled “Folklife and Foodways in Spain, Morocco and Scotland” will talk about her journey in these countries where she spent time volunteering at eco-projects, farms and homesteads. Millikan is a senior at Western’s Fairhaven College pursuing a concentration in Cultural Anthropology, the Environment and Foodways and a minor in Anthropology. She enjoys cooking, listening to music, making art and identifying plants.

Heger’s talk is titled “Reciprocity as an Adaptive Mechanism” and she will touch on her time volunteering and traversing through French Polynesia, Peru and Costa Rica as she worked at biological field stations, taught skateboarding and more. Heger is a student in Western’s Fairhaven College studying Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. She loves skateboarding, printmaking, road tripping and having fun.

For more information on Fairhaven’s 2023 Spring World Issues Forum, contact Niall O Murchu at omurchn@wwu.edu.