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Pomona Student Union Presents Panel on Consumer Activism

The Pomona Student Union will host a panel of business owners and professors to address the topic of “Ethics and Labels: Considering Consumer Activism.” This event will be held on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at Pomona College (Rose Hills Theatre, 170 E. Sixth St., Claremont).

Forms of ethical consumption and product labeling that are increasingly more visible—such as “fair trade” and “direct trade”—have complicated choices for consumers, albeit a limited audience, including the challenges of trying to understand the terms’ ambiguous meanings.

Some claim that buying and promoting fair trade and ethical consumption are pragmatic and effective ways to create better working conditions for people around the world and improve the traceability of commodities.  Others argue that these so-called alternative trade models do little for producers and are simply another marketing device.  The panel will examine questions like whether the power of consumption can be redirected to affect positive change, or whether these models simply mask the underlying problems of global trade by alleviating consumer guilt.

The speakers are:

Matt Warning is professor of economic development, econometrics and international economics at the University of Puget Sound.  He has conducted extensive research and fieldwork about the impact of fair trade for small-scale producers.

Nicki Lisa Cole is a visiting professor of sociology at Pomona College. Her research has focused on ethical consumption for coffee.

Mike Perry is a local businessman who owns Klatch Coffee. Klatch sources both fair trade and direct trade coffee, and has experience with both the coffee business and coffee producers.

Mayra Orellana is the owner and distributor of Catracha Coffee, and sources her coffee from her home region in Honduras. Her story is featured in the documentary The Way Back to Yarasquin: A Coffee Pilgrimage.

For more information, contact: gmh02009@mymail.pomona.edu.