Two Levenick Resident Scholars Named

Urbana, Ill. — The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is pleased to announce it will bring two renowned scholars to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus in Spring 2021.

Environmental activist and MacArthur “genius” grant recipient Catherine Coleman Flowers and nuclear engineering and nuclear policy expert Denia Djokić have been named Stuart L. and Nancy J. Levenick Resident Scholars in Sustainability Leadership for 2021.

“The Levenick Resident Scholar program gives the university community an ideal opportunity to learn and collaborate with accomplished experts in all aspects of sustainability science and policy,” said Jeffrey Brawn, the Levenick Professor of Sustainability who runs the program through iSEE and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES). “I am especially excited by the scholars coming to our campus in 2021.

“Catherine and Denia are speaking to issues that range from environmental justice for rural and disadvantaged communities to global nuclear energy policy. These issues align seamlessly with the mission of our land grant university, and both scholars will engage a wide spectrum of disciplines within our campus. Despite the necessity of virtual residencies, I am confident that Catherine and Denia will have significant impact on our community.”

Flowers is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ) and a Senior Fellow for Environmental Justice & Civic Engagement at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. A researcher, activist, and writer who brings attention to the largely invisible problem of inadequate waste and water sanitation infrastructure in U.S. rural communities, she was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 2020. Her first book, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, explores the environmental justice movement in rural America and highlights her journey as an activist. Read more here.

During her time with iSEE in 2021, Flowers will host a Book Talk as one of four events at iSEE’s reimagined virtual Congress, “The Future of Water.” At noon April 14, she will participate in a round-table discussion about her book.

“I am honored to be named a Levenick Resident Scholar for 2021,” she said. “Wastewater infrastructure inequality is widely under-discussed in the United States, and I am grateful to iSEE for highlighting my work. Our country is beginning to listen to what activists have been saying for years: that environmental justice needs to be at the center of conversations around sustainability and energy.”

Djokić is a Researcher in Energy, Equity, and Society at the Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences Department at the University of Michigan, as well as an Associate at the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests lie broadly in social and environmental justice aspects of the governance of nuclear energy technology. Djokić is currently engaged in epistemic and institutional reimaginings of the nuclear field, particularly through feminist and antiracist modes of inquiry. Her past research has encompassed technical and policy issues in radioactive waste management and advanced fuel cycle systems analysis. Read more here.

As a Resident Scholar, Djokić will take part in an upcoming iSEE Critical Conversation in May involving key stakeholders in examining the role of nuclear technology in a clean energy future, and she will collaborate on publications based on the discussion.

“I am honored and grateful to have been awarded the Levenick Resident Scholarship alongside Catherine, whose work and dedication to environmental justice I admire greatly and aspire to emulate,” Djokić said. “I am excited to bring my interdisciplinary background to the complex sustainability issues being investigated at the University of Illinois. Even if virtual, I look forward to my time on campus yielding many fruitful educational and collaboration opportunities.”

The Levenick Resident Scholars in Sustainability Leadership Program was funded by a generous endowment to iSEE and NRES in early 2019 from U of I Alumnus Stuart Levenick and wife Nancy Levenick of Naples, Fla. It was created to bring in experts in a variety of fields and disciplines from other universities, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations to share fresh perspectives and innovations with the Illinois community.

“We are grateful to the Levenicks for their continued support of iSEE and our campus,” said Madhu Khanna, Interim iSEE Director. “It allows us to bring in two outstanding experts in Denia and Catherine, and we are excited to have them lend their perspectives — and voices — to our campus dialogue.”

Read more about Flowers, Djokić, and the Levenick Resident Scholars program >>>