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Beginning this month, a new fellowship at Colby College will bring world-recognized environmental scholars, activists, writers, and leaders to campus to participate in Colby’s Environmental Studies Program, one of the leading undergraduate programs in the country. Colby’s new Mellon Distinguished Fellowship in Environmental Studies will honor one distinguished scholar annually whose work bridges science and policy to contribute to substantial advances in environmental conservation and sustainability. 

The inaugural Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Studies is Carl Safina, president of the Blue Ocean Institute and a marine scientist renowned for his accomplishments protecting the world’s oceans and the diversity of life they contain. Safina’s fellowship, a year-long engagement with Colby and Maine, begins Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m., with a public address in the Keyes 105 lecture hall. Safina’s books will be available for signing.

Throughout his career Safina has been a strong voice for the ocean, providing leadership and vision in the field. He is an award-winning author of six books who has informed the public and an activist who has influenced policymakers through passionate advocacy on behalf of the world’s imperiled oceans. He also is host of the PBS television series Saving the Ocean. Safina helped lead campaigns to ban high-seas driftnets, to rewrite federal fisheries law, to protect species including tunas and sharks, and to secure a global fisheries treaty through the UN. 

The title of this first talk by Safina is “Caught in the Same Net: The Oceans and Us.” He suggests that fisheries, coral reefs, forests, climate change, poverty, literacy for girls, and peace are all facets of the same issue. Safina will discuss how science has ethical implications, how religion and science are converging around environmental matters, and how moral responses can add momentum toward crucial solutions. Despite ominous trends, there is a path forward, he argues.

Scholars in residence under the Mellon fellowship will enhance the curriculum by visiting courses, making public presentations, working with students individually and in small groups and fully immersing in life at Colby.

Safina will return to campus March 7-14, 2013. Among events and activities that week will be an interdisciplinary conference here organized by the Environmental Studies Program titled “The Future of the World’s Oceans: Lessons from the Gulf of Maine,” and Safina will deliver the keynote talk. The conference will use the Gulf of Maine, a globally important marine ecosystem and fishery, as a model for understanding solutions to the environmental challenges facing our oceans. It will include talks by national and international leaders in marine science, policy, history, and conservation.

During his week on campus second semester, Safina will share his experiences and insights as a scientist, writer, and advocate for ocean conservation. He will discuss how the integration of different disciplinary perspectives can inform a deeper understanding of the planet and the behavior of its inhabitants and how it can inspire change.