Deconstructing our Clothes: Climate & Human Rights Impacts in the Fashion Industry

Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy
September 26, 2023 - 4:00 pm CDT
- 5:30 pm
3M Auditorium, Carlson School of Management

The fashion industry is big business, generating between $1.7 and $2.5 trillion in revenue annually. Its environmental & human rights impacts are also huge, contributing to an estimated 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions, pollution of waterways from chemical dyes, and the exploitation of its labor force – composed primarily of women of color and children. How do these negative externalities impact the decisions that apparel companies make about sourcing their products? And how should investors think about these issues? 


Join this two-part event on Tuesday, September 26, hosted by the Advancing Climate Solutions. Now. fund at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the Human Rights Center at the Law School, and the David S. Kidwell Funds Enterprise at the Carlson School of Management.  Co-sponsored by the Master of Human Rights program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

1 standard CLE credit, event code #492083


How We Sew (Activation and Art installation)

10am - 4pm
Carlson Atrium


Join us for a day-long sewing activation, during which we will examine the origins of our clothing, deconstruct old garments, and learn how to sew (no experience necessary). During the activation, participants will join one of three teams as they sort the clothing by country, cut the garments into strips, and sew together “country chains.” To give the experience context, we will project visuals and infographics on a screen. Featuring and inspired by the work of MN artist Rachel Breen.


No registration required, please feel welcome to drop in any time between 10 and 4.


What We Reap (Panel and Reception)

4 - 5pm
3M Auditorium


Following the activation, join us for a panel debrief and discussion as we dig into the climate and human rights impacts of the current textile and fashion supply chain, and consider how ignoring the full costs of these externalities distorts business decisions. We will discuss the current and potential future implications of regulatory legislation such as the Uyghur Act and the Fashion Act on the apparel industry, and the impacts on investment decisions. 

Reception to follow.




Rachel Breen

Headshot of the artist Rachel Green Through acts of sewing and dismantling, Rachel creates projects and spaces for cultivating deeper understandings of labor rights and solidarity.Rachel Breen’s work has been shown widely across the country, including a solo exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in 2020. Her solo exhibition, The Price of Our Clothes,” at the Perlman Museum, was Included in the top 20, best of 2018, exhibitions in the US by Hyperallergic (December 20, 2018). Rachel was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to India in 2022 and has been awarded an artist residency at MacDowell and the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Rachel is an inaugural recipient of the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, has received four Minnesota State Arts Board grants and a fellowship from the Walker Art Center Open Field. Rachel’s social engagement projects have been presented across the state including two projects commissioned for Northern Spark, a public art festival addressing climate change in Minnesota. Rachel holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a BA from The Evergreen State College. She lives in Minneapolis, MN, maintains an active studio practice and is a professor of art at Anoka Ramsey Community College. 


Maxine Bédat

Headshot of the panelist Maxine Beta Maxine Bédat is the founder and director of New Standard Institute, a think and do tank using data to drive accountability in industry. She is also the author of the book, UNRAVELED: The Life and Death of a Garment, a Financial Times Book of the Year, which has been translated into several languages. Prior to NSI, Maxine co-founded and was the CEO of Zady, a fashion brand and lifestyle destination creating a transparent and sustainable future for the apparel industry. Bédat has been recognized by Fast Company in its Most Creative in Business, Business of Fashion’s BoF 500, the definitive index of people shaping the global fashion industry, and Oprah’s Super Soul 100, for leaders elevating humanity. Bédat began her career in international law working at the Rwandan Criminal Tribunal and Allen & Overy, and received a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School.


Beth Brewer

Portrait of panelist Beth Brewer Beth Brewer is a Vice President, Defined Contribution Specialist for the Americas division of T. Rowe Price, the organization responsible for the firm’s institutional business in North America.

Beth’s investment experience began in 2013 when she joined T. Rowe Price, beginning as a retail investment services associate. She later served as a financial representative in Brokerage before spending two years as an investment liaison in Private Asset Management. She was later an associate portfolio analyst in the Investment Specialist Group, first in Fixed Income and later in Equity. Prior to her current role, Beth was a relationship management associate for Americas. Before joining the firm, Beth was employed by Direct Media as an account executive.

Beth earned a B.S. in marketing from Towson University and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Baltimore/Towson University joint program. She is a Series 7, 63, and 3 registered representative.



Karthik Natarajan

Headshot of panelist Karthik Natarajan Karthik Natarajan is an associate professor of Supply Chain and Operations at the Carlson School of Management. He received his Ph. D. in Operations from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. His comments on global health issues, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, have been featured in several media outlets including the New York Times, Star Tribune, PBS (Almanac), Kare11 and Fox9. Natarajan’s research interests are in the areas of social responsibility and humanitarian and non-profit operations, with a specific focus on global public health. He has consulted for global health agencies including USAID and also actively works with Minneapolis-based non-profits. Natarajan’s research has been published in several leading journals including Manufacturing and Service Operations Management and Production and Operations Management.

Contact Info
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