The Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Diversity Council announces that Navina Khanna, director of the Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor Food Alliance, a national food and farm justice coalition, will present a roundtable discussion with students followed by two talks on Nov. 29 as part of the Advancing the Human Condition Symposium. The events are free and open to the public.

The Advancing the Human Condition Symposium, which is taking place Nov. 28-30, is a Beyond Boundaries initiative and part of the university’s strategic growth area in Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition.

Khanna, an engaging and dynamic speaker based in Oakland, California, will discuss food and agriculture policy, science as a public good, and leadership for social justice. She represents the perspective of a first-generation South Asian American woman who graduated from a land-grant university and is working on the front lines of food system change. The workshop will inspire students and faculty and generate greater understanding about the important role food and agriculture play in creating social justice in society.

“We are committed to strengthening our collective ability to care for and uplift one another," said Khanna, whose background is in sustainable agriculture and food justice.

She has dedicated more than 15 years to transforming food systems. In 2014, Khanna’s work was recognized with a James Beard Leadership Award. She has worked as an educator, community organizer, and policy advocate, organizing across sectors and communities.

Khanna will speak on Nov. 29 at the following times and venues:

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Roundtable discussion with students
Room 108, Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1
1230 Washington St.

12 – 1 p.m.
University seminar: "Loyal to the Soil: Cultivating Movement from the Ground Up"
Room 108 Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1
1230 Washington St.

6:30 – 8 p.m.
Evening reception and talk: “To Change Everything it Takes Everyone: Building a Multi-Racial, Multi-Sector Movement for Transformation”
Alexander Black House 
204 Draper Road
Blacksburg, Virginia

Earlier this year, Erin Ling, a senior Extension associate in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering, and Kim Niewolny, an associate professor and Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist with the Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education, won the College’s Diversity Incentive Award for their efforts to bring Khanna to speak this month at Virginia Tech.

The Diversity Incentive Award provides support for new, innovative, and creative approaches to raise awareness, engage learners, and change behaviors about diversity and inclusion within both the academic community and the broader constituencies served by the college. Winners of this award help organize lectures, workshops, and other innovative programs designed to address diversity.

This event is also made possible by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Diversity Council, which provides leadership to promote diversity, guide the recruitment and retention of employees, and support the inclusion of all people in educational programs and services.

If you have questions about this event, please email Erin Ling at

-Written by Amy Painter