To accelerate climate action in the short term, the Midwest Climate Summit is structured as a two-part event, with a series of virtual keynotes and workshops in Fall 2020 (the Think Tank) that will set the stage for a recognition of the new commitments and increased ambition of Summit partner organizations in Spring 2021 (the Summit). The details below only pertain to the Think Tank part of the event.

Think Tank Speakers and Schedule

The Fall 2020 Think Tank program is organized around topic areas: Science & Research; Teaching & Education; Climate Action; and Outreach & Engagement. The Think Tank will:

  • Engage leaders and decision-makers from multiple sectors
  • Provide content focused on advancing understanding of climate impacts in the Midwest and promoting existing and emerging best practices
  • Cultivate ideas and partnerships that will help organizations accelerate climate action

Student-Focused Content

In addition to attending and participating in the sessions below, students are invited to participate in three student-led and student-focused elements of the fall series – the Climate Stories Contest, the Student System Conference, and the Virtual Job & Networking Fair.

Session 4: Friday, November 6, 2020

Daniel Wildcat

Daniel Wildcat

Founder of the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group


  • 10:00-10:40 am, CT – Keynote Speaker
    Education for Resilience: Letting Mother Earth Teach Us
    • Daniel Wildcat – Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group

      This keynote address is held in conjunction with Global Health Week, a university-wide event that brings together Washington University and the St. Louis community to engage around global health topics.
  • 10:45-12:00 pm, CT – (4) Concurrent Workshops for:
    • Science & Research Workshop – “Agriculture as a Climate Solution
    • Teaching & Education Workshop – “From Campus to Community: Educating Today’s Climate Experts
    • Outreach and Engagement Workshop – “Actions Speak Louder than Words – Moving Discussions Towards Solutions
    • Climate Action Workshop – “Planning for a Resilient Future

Session 5: Friday, November 20, 2020

Justin Gillis

Justin Gillis

Former New York Times Climate Reporter


  • 10:00-11:15 am, CT – (4) Concurrent Workshops for:
    • Science & Research Workshop
    • Teaching & Education Workshop – “A Rising Tide Must Lift All Boats: Redefining Workforce Development in a Green Economy to Ensure Just Transition
    • Outreach and Engagement Workshop – “The Science of Climate Communication: How to Reach Conservatives and Moderates
    • Climate Action Workshop – “Advancing Energy Efficiency and Decarbonization
  • 11:20 am-12:15 pm, CT – Keynote Speaker and Closing Remarks
    Communicating the Crisis: Should We Just Change the Subject
    • Justin Gillis – Former NY Times Climate Reporter

Past Sessions

Kick-Off Session: Friday, October 2, 2020

Robert Bullard

Robert Bullard

Father of Environmental Justice

Chris Caldwell

Chris Caldwell

President of College of Menominee Nation and Director of Sustainable Development Institute

Katherine Wilkinson

Katharine Wilkinson

Author, strategist, teacher, and editor-in-chief at Project Drawdown

Heather McTeer Toney

Heather
McTeer Toney

National Field Director for Moms Clean Air Force

Isra Hirsi

Isra Hirsi

Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the US Youth Climate Strike


Session Moderator: Shara Mohtadi, Bloomberg Philanthropies

  • 10:00-10:55 am, CT – “Building a Just, Fair and Equitable Society in the Era of Climate Change” – Robert Bullard
  • 11:00-11:15 am, CT –Situational Awareness: Addressing Climate Solutions in the Midwest” – Chris Caldwell
  • 11:15-11:30 am, CT – “Transformational Leadership for the Climate Crisis” – Katharine Wilkinson
  • 11:30-11:45 am, CT – “Lord Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise: Collaborative solutions for facing the climate crisis” – Heather McTeer Toney
  • 11:45-12:00 pm, CT – “Creating a People’s Movement” – Isra Hirsi
  • 12:00-12:30 pm, CT – Panel Discussion and Closing Remarks

Session 2: Friday, October 9, 2020

Heidi Roop

Heidi Roop

Climate scientist, educator, communicator

Gabe Filippelli

Gabe Filippelli

Chancellor’s Professor of Earth Sciences and Director of the Center for Urban Health at IUPUI

Jessica Hellmann

Jessica Hellmann

Director of the Institute on Environment at the University of Minnesota

Daniel Vimont

Daniel Vimont

Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research


  • 10:00-10:40 am, CT – Welcome and Keynote Speakers
    The Future of Extreme Climate Events in the Midwest
    • Heidi Roop – University of Minnesota
    • Gabe Filippelli – Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
    • Jessica Hellman – University of Minnesota
    • Daniel Vimont – University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 10:45-12:00 pm, CT – (4) Concurrent Workshops for: 
    • Science & Research Workshop – “The Future of Extreme Climate Events in the Midwest
    • Teaching & Education Workshop – “Being Sustainability
    • Outreach and Engagement Workshop – “Climate Change Coverage in a Changing Media Environment
    • Climate Action Workshop – “Rising to the Challenge: Setting Ambitious Climate Commitments

Session 3: Friday, October 23, 2020

Carla Frisch

Carla Frisch

Principal at Rocky
Mountain Institute

Delmar Gillus

Delmar Gillus

Chief Operating Officer
of Elevate Energy

Neil Hawkins

Sustainable business thought leader and Erb Foundation President


  • 10:00-10:40 am, CT – Welcome and Keynote Speakers
    Ambition, Economics, and a Just Transition in the Midwest
    • Carla Frisch – Rocky Mountain Institute
    • Delmar Gillus – Elevate Energy
    • Neil Hawkins – Erb Foundation
  • 10:45-12:00 pm, CT – (4) Concurrent Workshops for:
    • Science & Research Workshop – “Climate Solutions in Public Health and Communities
    • Teaching & Education Workshop – “Teaching Climate Across the Curriculum
    • Outreach and Engagement Workshop – “Building New Partnerships: Finding Common Ground for Successful Climate Action
    • Climate Action Workshop – “Building Cross-Sector Partnerships to Accelerate Action