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Fall 2018 Schedule

The 2018-2019 Center for Ethics, "Crisis Earth: Ethics of the Anthropocene" began on Friday, Sept. 7 with a series of interdisciplinary lectures and interactive lessons by Muhlenberg faculty on aspects of the Anthropocene.

A talk by James Hansen, titled “Global Energy, Climate and Health: Young People’s Burdens and Opportunities,” followed. The program ran from 2:00–5:00 p.m. in Moyer Hall’s Miller Forum and surrounding classrooms. Hansen spoke from 3–4:30 p.m., followed by a reception.

A climatologist, activist, and one of the first to study global climate change, Hansen directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness, and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Fossil fuels provide a remarkably dense, convenient, form of energy. Their discovery powered the industrial revolution, spurred the elimination of slavery, and raised the standard of living of half the world. Unfortunately, fossil fuels also have consequences via their effects on human health and climate, consequences that are delayed and potentially devastating for young people if they are not addressed.

Also a former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change in the 1980s that helped raise awareness of global warming. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards, including the Sophie and Blue Planet Prizes. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power and for outlining actions needed to protect the future of young people and all species on the planet. Hansen may be joined by his granddaughter, Sophie Kivlehan, a plaintiff in the climate lawsuit brought by Our Children’s Trust against the US government.

Subsequent fall Center for Ethics events included:

Exhibition: Peter d'Agostino, COLD / HOT - Walks, Wars & Climate Change
August 27-November 3
Public Reception, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 5–6:30 p.m., Martin Art Gallery, Baker Center for the Arts
Public Talk, Monday, Sept. 17, 5:00 p.m., Baker Center for the Arts, Recital Hall
D’Agostino’s exhibition focuses on the theme of COLD / HOT as it relates to walks, wars, and climate change, drawing from a selection of his works, in particular his World-Wide-Walks / between earth & water installations, ICE / WETLANDS / DESERTS. D'Agostino has performed the Walks on six continents over the past five decades. Initiated as video 'documentation/performances' in 1973, the Walks evolved into video/web projects in the 1990s and mobile/locative media installations in the 2000s, probing and examining climate change during the last decade. World-Wide-Walks explore natural, cultural, virtual identities: mixed realities of walking through physical environments and virtually surfing the web.

Lecture: Andrew Revkin, “The Good, the Bad, and the Anthropocene”
Friday, Sept. 21, 2 p.m., Trumbower, Room 130 (Lithgow Auditorium)
Have we become so potent a force on earth that a geological epoch should have our name? Can there be any kind of good path for our species in a time of such rapid and disruptive environmental change? Andrew Revkin, strategic adviser for environmental and science journalism at The National Geographic Society, is one of America’s most honored and experienced journalists, focused on environmental and human sustainability. Revkin will describe his learning journey, from the Amazon to the North Pole to the Vatican, and offer a prescription that is both unnerving and hopeful.

Lecture: Atiq Rahman, “Resilience Building in the Anthropocene: Lessons from Bangladesh”
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 7 p.m., Trumbower, Room 130 (Lithgow Auditorium)
Atiq Rahman is a prominent environmentalist, scientist, and development expert from Bangladesh. He is well-known worldwide for his pioneering role and contribution to environment and nature conservation, climate change, poverty alleviation and sustainable development. In 2008, he was honored with the highest UN Environmental Award, the Champion of the Earth, and with Bangladesh’s National Environment Award for Innovative Environmental Research and Technology Development. He is a long-standing lead author and convening lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and as such, was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

Lecture: J.R. McNeill, “Global Environmental Change since 1800: Are We in the Anthropocene?”
Monday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m., Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Environmental historian John McNeill will summarize the broad outlines and driving forces of environmental change in the industrial era, and explore the controversies surrounding what it might mean. Should we consider that the earth has entered a new epoch in its history? McNeill, currently at Georgetown University, has held two Fulbright awards, fellowships from Guggenheim, MacArthur, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. His books include “Something New Under the Sun” (2000), listed by the London Times among the 10 best science books ever written (despite not being a science book); “The Human Web” (2003); and “Mosquito Empires” (2010), which won the Beveridge Prize. In 2010 he was awarded the Toynbee Prize for “academic and public contributions to humanity,” and in 2018 the Heineken Award for History from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. McNeill is past president of the American Society for Environmental History and was recently elected president of the American Historical Association for 2019.

Lecture: Susan Shaw, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Scholar
Tuesday, Oct. 23, 7:00 p.m
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Shaw is a marine toxicologist, author, explorer and founder/director of the Shaw Institute, formerly the Marine & Environmental Research Institute and recently renamed in honor of Shaw's three decades of environmental research. A Fulbright Scholar with dual degrees from Columbia University in film and in public health/environmental toxicology, Shaw was commissioned by Ansel Adams in 1980 to write “Overexposure,” the first book on the health hazards of photographic chemicals. For the past two decades, Shaw has conducted pioneering research documenting the effects of hundreds of human-made chemicals in the ocean environment. Shaw will be visiting as part of the Woodrow Wilson program.

Lecture: Mona Bhan, "Ecological Anxieties and Imaginaries on the India-Pakistan Border"
Monday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.
Miller Forum, Moyer Hall
Bhan, associate professor of anthropology at DePauw, is the co-author of the forthcoming “Climate without Nature: A Critical History of the Anthropocene,” with Cambridge University Press. Her ongoing work in the border provinces of Kashmir analyzes the relationship between dams, environmental and ecological imaginaries, and India’s counterinsurgency politics.

Lecture: Bahareh Seyedi, Energy Policy Specialist in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations
Friday, Nov. 9

Bahare Seyedi - United Nations Muhlenberg Presentation

Prior to service in the Office of the Secretary General, Bahareh Seyedi worked with the Sustainable Energy Programme within the Environment and Energy Group of the United Nations Development Programme in New York as well as in Burkina Faso, where she managed multiple projects in the area of energy and environment.

Seyedi has worked with civil society organizations, leading several international development projects in Central America and South East Asia. She holds an MS degree in Sustainable Development and Climate change from De Monfort University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from McGill University.

This free and public event was sponsored by the International Studies program, the Political Science Department, the History Department and the Sustainability Studies program.


During the spring 2019 semester, the Center for Ethics will continue to explore the theme of the Anthropocene, beginning in early February.