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2024 SPRING | Obstacles and Opportunities: Tackling Sustainability in Kansas

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February 20 - March 26

Our Spring 2024 Discussion Group series, “Obstacles and Opportunities: Tackling Sustainability in Kansas,” will be a four-part series moderated by Kansas Rural Center Board Member Karen Willey. The series was created alongside Discussion Group Coordinators Braiden Bangalan and Rachel Creighton by engaging with members of the Dole Institute’s Student Advisory Board to determine which topics related to sustainability in Kansas that students wanted to address.


This series is presented in partnership with the Kansas Rural Center.



The Farm Bill: Food and Hunger in the Heartland

February 20, 2024

The Farm Bill, a massive omnibus legislation covering a wide range of issues from agricultural practices to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), is on the docket for this coming year’s Congress. The Farm Bill dictates the most profitable and economical practices for Kansas’s largest industry, agriculture, and will shape farming and food stamp policies for the next 5 years. Join us with Senior Agriculture Advisor to Representative Sharice Davids, Zach Helder, and Executive Director of Kansas Farmers Union, Nick Levendofsky, to discuss the prevailing issues, debates, and environmental impact of this highly influential legislation. Karen Willey will lead this semester’s four-part Discussion Group Series.

This program is presented in partnership with the Kansas Farmers Union and the KU Department of Political Science.


Sink or Swim: The Future of Water in Kansas

February 27, 2024

Working lands, ecosystems, towns, and cities all need scarce water resources to survive in an uncertain future. With a plethora of legal battles and competing interests between powerful players, water access, quantity, and quality is a hot topic in Kansas. In discussion with Representatives Lindsay Vaughn and Kenny Titus, we explore the state of water quantity and quality and the conversations happening within the state. Karen Willey will lead this semester’s four-part Discussion Group Series.

This program is presented in partnership with the KU Honors Program.


Powering the Next Generation: Renewable Energy Options and Hurdles in Kansas

March 19, 2024

As one of the most widely discussed topics with a vast array of stakeholders, the future of renewable energy in Kansas is unclear. Taking into consideration the environmental and economic impacts of various forms of energy, we look at what direction Kansas is headed and where it could go. Join us with Climate + Energy Project Program Director Allison Thomas, Douglas County Planning Commission Chair Gary Rexroad, Evergy Clean Energy Development Manager Brandon Sack, and State Geologist of Kansas Jay Kalbas to discuss the future of renewable energy development in Kansas by means of public policy, community action, and environmental necessity. Karen Willey will lead this semester’s four-part Discussion Group Series.


Where Do We Go Now?: The Politics and Policies of Climate Adaptation in Kansas

March 26, 2024

Kansas is facing the question of how to create a livable state in the face of climate change. How can rural and urban areas adapt to become more resilient? As the environmental and ecological effects of a changing climate rapidly progress, local communities and nations alike are finding new solutions to this crisis. Join Douglas County, Kansas Food Waste Reduction Specialist Jamie Hofling, Kansas Rural Center Executive Director Tom Buller, KU Associate Professor Ward Lyles, and Earthjustice Senior Director Jasmin Moore for this conversation with Dole Fellow Karen Willey.

This program is presented in partnership with the KU School of Public Affairs Administration, and the Department of Environmental Studies.


February 20
March 26
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The Dole Institute of Politics
(785) 864-4900
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