December 15, 2023 – 9th Annual Ecoability: Disability, Animal, and Environmental Justice Conference – Free, Public, Recorded, and via Zoom

9th Annual Ecoability: Disability, Animal, and Environmental Justice Conference
December 15, 2023
Public, Free, Recorded, and via Zoom

Register Here:

Conferences Chair:
Laura Schleifer

War Relates to Disability, Animals and Ecology


Transformative Justice
Critical disability studies
Healing Justice
Cultural and Religious intersectionalities
Language Terminology
Policy and/or/versus Culture Social Change
Social and Cultural Construction of Disabilities
Fighting Political and Corporate Repression
Being a Scholar-Activist
Decolonizing Movements and Education
Social Movement
Environmental Justice
Social Ecology
Deep Ecology
Disability Pedagogy
Rhetoric of Health and Wellness
Social Attitudes of Neuroatypicality
Total Liberation
Racial Justice
Economic Justice
Social Justice
Youth Justice
Critical Eco-Feminism
Community Justice and Circles
Direct Democracy
Anarchist Criminology
Radical Criminology
Peace Studies and Making
Conflict Transformation and Resolution

All Speakers have 20 minutes to present with 10 minutes of questions and comments.

All submissions for the conference need to hold to the mission and principles of CAS and ICAS and to submit in a Word Doc. as an attachment in an E-mail with the following information:
1. Title of Presentation
2. Biography third person 80 to 100 words one paragraph
3. Description/Abstract of the presentation around 200 words third person and one paragraph


Laura Schleifer

(Based on USA Mountain Time)
10:00am – 3:00pm

10:00am-10:10am – Welcoming and Introduction

Biography: Laura Schleifer is the Institute for Critical Animal Studies Conference Director , Program Director at Promoting Enduring Peace, and co-founder of Plant the Land, a Gaza-based vegan food sovereignty /community projects team. A lifelong “artivist” and graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she’s performed throughout the Middle East with a circus troupe, taught in China, Nicaragua, and at Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center, performed off-Broadway, and arts-mentored homeless youth. Her screenplay, The Feral Child, was a Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab finalist. Her essays appear in New Politics Magazine , The Leftist Review, Kropotkin Now! Life, Freedom and Ethics (Black Rose Books, 2023), Resisting Neoliberal Schooling: Dismantling the Rubricization and Corporatization of Higher Education, (Peter Lang, 2023), Fever Spores; William S. Burroughs and Queer Letters, (Rebel Satori Press, 2022), and the forthcoming Expanding the Critical Animal Studies Imagination (Peter Lang, 2024).

10:10-10:30am – Presenter One-
Ally Burnout
Dr. Gregor Wolbring

Biography: Dr Gregor Wolbring is a tenured Full Professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine, Community Health Science, Program in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies and the academic director (disability and accessibility) at the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.  He is presently also a member of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS), Karlsruhe, Germany and a senior fellow of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa, Canada.  As to former appointments he was the President of the Canadian Disability Studies Association and a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. He sees ability studies including eco-ability studies, disability studies, sustainability studies, science and technology governance studies, sports and equity, diversity and inclusion as his  six main topic areas.

Burnout is a problem within the workplace including in higher education, the activity of activism, and in reaction to experiencing systemic discrimination in daily life. Marginalized groups including disabled people face even more problems in all of these areas and therefore are in danger of experiencing “disability burnout”/”disablism burnout”. Allies that are activists could therefore be in danger of ally burnout due to their activist role. Many stressors leading to activist burnout have been described and disabled activists experience many unique stressors related to being activists that can lead to burnout as activist and with that as ally. This presentation focuses on the danger of ally burnout especially for disabled people being allies and the many problems and danger of burnout disabled people face in relation to environmental activism.

10:30-10:40am Q and A

10:40-11:00am – Presenter Two
Title: Climate’s Disproportionate Impact on People with Disabilities, Ableism in Environmentalism, and Opportunities for Action
Alex Ghenis

Biography: Alex Ghenis is a disability climate justice advocate and the founder of Accessible Climate Strategies. He previously managed the New Earth Disability initiative at the World Institute on Disability for six years before founding Accessible Climate Strategies in 2020. Alex is currently a member of the Technical Advisory Council of the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program (ICARP) at the CA Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and part of the Equity Working Group of the Bay Area Climate Adaptation Network (BayCAN). Additionally, he is a regular freelance writer with United Spinal and the Director of Content for Climate Hive.

Abstract: This high-level presentation will cover a conceptual framework to understand the climate-disability puzzle, concerns regarding ableism in the environmental movement, and opportunities to develop truly inclusive, accessible adaptation and mitigation. There are countless connections between climate change and disability, which is due to the nature of both climate change and disability. After all, when two complex, multifaceted systems intersect, their connections are often more complex than the systems themselves. This presentation will break both climate and disability into several sample components, demonstrate the nature of connections between them, and impart how to identify and tackle both broad and nuanced topics. Using insights from the UK, it will then pivot to concerns around ableism in the environmental movement – both with the movement’s framing of itself and the actions of its members. And finally, it will present some high-level actions and focus areas for climate disability justice.

11:00-11:10am – Q and A

11:10-11:30am – Presenter Three
Getting to Solidarity: Toward an Interest-based Conflict Resolution Approach to Resolving the Conflict between Ecoability Ability Equity and Animal Equity
Daniel Salomon

Biography: Daniel Salomon is a neurodivergent autistic self-advocate who is an environmental disability justice scholar working on his field papers in Environment and Critical Disability as a PhD Student in Urban Studies at Portland State University (PSU). Salomon centers adult autistic self-advocates in his research. Salomon has a Master of Arts in Theological Research from Andover Newton Theological School and a Graduate Certificate in Science and Religion from the Boston Theological Institute. Salomon is serving on Metro’s Committee on Disability Inclusion and received a grant from REI through the Willamette Partnership to research best management practices (bmp) for inclusive neurodivergent outdoor spaces. Salomon is a 44-year old, early diagnosed, autistic adult. Salomon is also an author and frequent contributor to the Institute of Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) Ecoability initiatives.

Abstract: This paper puts adult autistic self-advocates and animal liberationists in dialogue to rethink autistic abilities through the lens of Disability Justice, intersectionality, the urban context of eco-gentrification and win-win interest-based conflict resolution. This paper will explore why lifting up certain autistic individuals as superheroes with superpowers like Dr. Temple Grandin is harmful to autistic and animal movements alike in a rapidly changing world. Getting beyond the historical binaries of ableist animal liberationists and hostile reactionary autistic self-advocates, this paper will explore the possibility of taking a nonbinary approach with the help of the lens of Disability Justice, intersectionality, climate justice and conflict resolution. An alternative to Grandin who has created “humane slaughter systems” as a market-based solution to institutional animal cruelty. I offer a Disability Justice intersectionality informed alternative with anti-capitalist, beyond the medical model and the state, animal abolitionist, critical, radical edges. As a doctorate student in an equity informed social science field, urban studies, who is a neurodivergent autistic self-advocate in solidarity with animal liberation, radical environmentalism, climate action and the socio-planetary struggle. I advocate both for the full diversity of the autistic people to be represented and included as leaders in animal, climate and earth movements and efforts, decision making and planning processes. As well as for animal, climate and earth movements to think through their default narrative about autism before using autism to frame a particular issue.

11:30-11:40am – Q and A

11:40-12:10pm – Lunch break

12:10-12:30pm – Presenter Four
“I’m Not Affected, Why Do I Care?”; A Black-Crip Perspective on Animal Liberation and its Intrinsic Symbiosis with Human Survival
Cade Braynen

Biography: Cade Braynen is a disabled classical musician residing in Denver. Having been vegan from the age of about 4 or 5, they’ve had the privilege of navigating the diet for decades and enjoy helping those who transition later in life. On the activist side of things they have been involved in several Colorado actions and organizations for the last two years, excited to dive deeper after recently completing their graduate degree in May 2023. Cade also enjoys stargazing, playing the piano/organ, drawing comics, nature walks, board games, baking, and becoming friends with everyone’s cats.

Abstract: It’s not surprising that Earth’s current state rests on fragile ground. With heightened aggressions between both individuals and entire countries, uncharacteristic temperatures in unfamiliar seasons, and nearly 4 years of a destructive, mass-disabling pandemic, things have felt hopeless for many people. And sometimes, those people include animal activists. The movement has made incredible strides in the last few years, making history with rescues, ballot measures, pushes to create beneficial animal rights legislation, and plenty more. It is easy to get overwhelmed–or worse, burnt out. So then the question comes: if there is already a mountain of problems to worry about, why would they divide their attention further? The truth is, veganism does not and cannot exist in a vacuum. Animal liberation is the goal, however close society can get, but it is not without influence from other social movements. If the “ideal” world boasts the end of animal oppression, then what does that mean for disabled folks? People of the Global Majority? Queers and neurodivergent people? Are they also included? This exploration into social interconnectivity aims to expand people’s ability to care fiercely and unapologetically by illuminating new paths for holistic and accessible vegan activism.

12:30-12:40pm – Q and A

12:40-1:00pm – Presenter Five
Sustainability Resilience: Centering Emotional Health in Environmental Justice Pedagogy
Sarah Conrad

Biography: Sarah Conrad is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Prairie View A&M University. She is a field philosopher who seeks to creatively address wicked problems in a multi-and inter-disciplinary manner. As a critical pedagogue, she prepares learners to be intersectional thinkers who value intellectual life and work toward social change. Her areas of specialization are applied ethics and environmental justice studies, especially as they relate to critical theories of race, gender, and ability. Much of her research explores the potential of applying restorative practices to address the emotional and relational dimensions of environmental harm.

Abstract: Most sustainability plans and environmental educational programs center on climate resilience. However, they seldom focus on the financial, mental, physical, and emotional toll that environmental and animal activism can take on individuals and activist communities. To redress the lack of attention spent on the health of activists, this presentation describes the pedagogical method the presenter (and her team) is using to prioritize emotional resilience in building a new undergraduate place-based environmental sustainability program that is funded by a half-million-dollar grant. To demonstrate the approach, the presenter first examines traditional definitions of resilience in the context of sustainability and reframes the term. She then establishes why a focus on emotional health is important for environmental justice and animal activism while also problematizing the concept of ‘health’ and ‘mental health’ in particular. She ends with a model of how the developing program proposes to integrate emotional well-being into its environmental justice activist frameworks.

1:00-1:10pm – Q and A

1:10-1:30pm – Presenter Six
Highly Sensitive Persons, Animal Liberation, and Ecospirituality
Dr. Alka Arora

Biography: Alka Arora, PhD, is an associate professor of women, gender, spirituality, and social justice at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. Her research and teaching focus on feminist spiritual activism, integral feminist pedagogy, and decolonial vegan ethics. Her most recent book chapter, “Pedagogy of the Consumed: an Integral Feminist Lens on Veganism in Higher Education,” in the book Feminist Animal and Multispecies Studies: Critical Perspectives on Food and Eating, was published by Brill in November 2023. Dr. Arora is also a public speaker, leadership coach, and educational consultant. She lives in Chicago, IL and works remotely.

Abstract: It is estimated that 15%-20% of the population can be classified as highly sensitive people, who process information more deeply, have high levels of empathy, and are prone to overstimulation. While there is no consensus as to whether or not the HSP trait is a form of neurodiversity, it is clear that those who possess this trait experience the world differently than those without it. Given their high degree of empathy, HSPs may be more deeply affected by animal suffering and more motivated to alleviate it. At the same time, they may also have a harder time engaging in some forms of animal activism and may become overstimulated or burned out by work that involves direct confrontation. This talk explores the following: In what ways can the HSP trait be of service to animal liberation movements? What types of support might HSP individuals need to thrive in solidarity with other beings? How can HSPs and non-HSPs collaborate more effectively?

In this presentation, I share my own experience as an HSP vegan as well as my experiences as an educator working closely with other HSPs. I conclude by drawing upon ecospirituality as a framework that can support HSP individuals and strengthen the human-animal-spirit connection. Spirit here is defined broadly, such that persons of all religious or spiritual orientations – including atheists – can adapt this framework in alignment with their worldview. Ecospirituality offers both a challenge to modern capitalist and extractive systems and resources for personal and collective healing.

1:30-1:40pm – Q and A

1:40-2:00pm – Presenter Seven
From War within War to Peace within Peace
Ronnie Lee

Biography: Ronnie is probably best known for being one of the founders of the Animal Liberation Front and for having spent about 9 years in prison for ALF activities. In more recent years though, he has turned his attention to vegan outreach and frequently speaks of the importance of vegan education, and of local vegan activist groups, for the achievement of animal liberation.

Abstract: How can we totally transform the world? The horrors of war between humans continue year after year, but even more horrific, in terms of the slaughter and suffering it causes, is the perpetual war that humans wage against sentient animals of other species. But is there something absolutely fundamental we all can do to end both the internal and external wars waged by humans, and bring lasting peace throughout the world? Ronnie believes there is, and he will reveal what it is in his talk.

2:00-2:10pm – Q and A

2:10-2:30pm – Presenter Eight
Ethical Considerations in Training War-Displaced Canines for Disability Service
Amber E. George

Biography: Amber E. George, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Galen College. Dr. George is an executive board member for Critical Animal Studies (ICAS) and chief editor of the Journal for Critical Animal Studies (JCAS). Dr. George most recently edited Superheroes and Disabilities: Unmasking Ableism and Ecoability Perspectives: Voices for Animal Disability Justice.

Abstract: In this presentation, I delve into the complex ethical landscape that has emerged in the wake of the Ukrainian war crisis, where over two million individuals sought refuge in Poland, bringing along not only the hopes for a safer future for themselves but also their animal companions. The mass displacement has placed unprecedented pressure on local animal shelters and humanitarian resources. People with pets, caught in the whirlwind of war and displacement, have handed over their beloved pets to international rescue initiatives. This paper critically examines the contentious practice of adopting displaced canines from war zones to be retrained as service animals for individuals with disabilities through the lens of eco-ability. This presentation explores the intricate balance between supporting individuals with disabilities and respecting the agency and welfare of dogs involved, all within the broader context of the ongoing warfare crisis.

2:30-2:40 pm – Q and A

2:40-3:00 PM- Presenter Nine
War Is A Disability Justice Issue
Laura Schleifer

Biography: Laura Schleifer is the Institute for Critical Animal Studies Conference Director , Program Director at Promoting Enduring Peace, and co-founder of Plant the Land, a Gaza-based vegan food sovereignty /community projects team. A lifelong “artivist” and graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she’s performed throughout the Middle East with a circus troupe, taught in China, Nicaragua, and at Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center, performed off-Broadway, and arts-mentored homeless youth. Her screenplay, The Feral Child, was a Sundance Screenwriters’ Lab finalist. Her essays appear in New Politics Magazine , The Leftist Review, Kropotkin Now! Life, Freedom and Ethics (Black Rose Books, 2023), Resisting Neoliberal Schooling: Dismantling the Rubricization and Corporatization of Higher Education, (Peter Lang, 2023), Fever Spores; William S. Burroughs and Queer Letters, (Rebel Satori Press, 2022), and the forthcoming Expanding the Critical Animal Studies Imagination (Peter Lang, 2024).

Abstract: As co-founder of Plant the Land team, a vegan/plant-based food justice and sovereignty mutual aid team based in Gaza, Laura has become intimately familiar with how the issues of war, ecology, and disability intersect, not only through the current Israeli bombing campaign, but also throughout the years of previous bombing campaigns, the gunning down of protesters during the Gazan Great March of Return in 2019 that left many Gazans with missing limbs, and the 17 years of brutal economic sanctions that blocked Gazans from being able to access medication and other medical supplies and treatments. Taking a social ecological approach to the disability justice model that looks at how wars both exacerbate existing disabilities and cause new ones, Laura advocates for anti-war activists to highlight disability in its opposition to war, and for disability justice activists to consider war resistance as a disability justice imperative.

3:00-3:10 PM- Q And A