The Environmental Studies Program runs a robust lecture series during the fall and spring semesters.  We seek top thinkers and researchers in their field and bring them to campus to meet with our students, share a meal, and give a lecture.  The lecture series is broken up into an evening series and a lunchtime series.  While the lecture series is specifically geared to our students and the current semesters courses they are free and open to the public.


Fall 2021 Environmental Studies Lecture Series

Lunchtime Lecture Series

Theory Underwater: Diving into “Wild Blue Media”

Melody Jue, Professor of English, University of California Santa Barbara
Friday, September 17th
Noon, Virtual

What would media and literary studies look like, underwater? In Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (2020), I show how the ocean can be a science fictional environment for defamiliarizing concepts in media studies, offering cold and briny contexts in which to rethink the “interface” and “inscription.” Placing my own experience of scuba diving in conversation with science fictions and diving memoirs, I demonstrate how the buoyancy of the ocean can be a useful milieu for rethinking the relation between orientation and interpretation. By becoming more aware of the terrestrial bias that we bring to the study of media, I call for an ecocritical practice of “milieu specific analysis,” a way of attending to the environmental conditions of interpretation and embodiment beyond the desk.

Melody Jue is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020), which won the 2020 Speculative Fictions and Cultures of Science book award. She is the co-editor with Rafico Ruiz of Saturation (Duke Press, 2021) and has published articles in journals including Grey Room, Configurations, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Resilience, and Media+Environment. Her new work explores the mediations of seaweeds in trans-Pacific contexts.

Visions of the Arctic Future

Patrick Keys, Lead Scientist, School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University
Friday, September 24th
Noon, Virtual

The future of Arctic social systems and natural environments is highly uncertain. Climate change will lead to unprecedented phenomena in the pan-Arctic region, such as regular shipping traffic through the Arctic Ocean, urban growth, military activity, expanding agricultural frontiers, and transformed indigenous societies. Can we find new creative approaches for looking far beyond the horizon of the present, to push the methodological boundaries of scenario creation? In this seminar, Dr. Keys will share an interdisciplinary approach that blends computational text analysis, creative storytelling, and visual art to construct new scenarios of the Arctic future. An analysis of more than 2,000 texts, resulted in ten unique thematic clusters. Using these themes, a structured creative process led to ten unique, story-based scenarios. Further, these scenarios were re-imagined in collaboration with a visual artist to further explore how to convey these novel futures. The seminar will share the entire process of the research, as well as new opportunities in the future for applying the approach elsewhere in the world.

Patrick Keys is a Research Scientist for SoGES.  His research is focused on a broad range of global sustainability challenges, including climate change impacts, cross-scale risks, and social-ecological tele-connections.  His doctoral work sought to understand the dynamics between sources and sinks of atmospheric moisture, particularly how socially-driven changes in evaporation could be related to downwind, terrestrial precipitation.  He has also worked on other topics ranging from the role of science fiction in developing more realistic scenarios for the future of Earth’s oceans, to the importance of recognizing the Anthropocene as a new baseline for global risk analysis.

Reports from the Field: Summer Internship and Research Presentations

Friday, October 1st
Noon, Dana

Earth Law

Tony Zelle, Chair and President, Earth Law Center
Friday, October 8th
Noon, Dana

Earth law is often called “ecocentric” law. It is an emerging body of law for protecting, restoring, and stabilizing the functional interdependency of Earth’s life and life-support systems. In other words, Earth law lets Nature operate naturally. It may be expressed in constitutional, statutory, common law, and customary law, as well as in treaties and other agreements both public and private. Earth law is both a departure from environmental law and a new context for its extension. It is considered ecocentric law, as opposed to and compared to anthropocentric law.

Within the framework of Earth law is the idea that ecosystems have the right to exist, thrive, and evolve—and that Nature should be able to defend its rights in court, just like people can. Some of the other specific movements falling under the banner of Earth law are nonhuman rights for animals, defining ecocide as a crime, and Indigenous rights.  During this seminar, Tony Zelle will discuss Earth law as well as field student questions about environmental law, careers in law, and law school.

Climate Justice in a World of Crises

Farhana Sultana, Assistant Professor, Geography and the Environment, Syracuse University
Friday, October 29th
Noon, Virtual

Climate change has had unequal and uneven burdens across places whereby the planetary crisis involves a common but differentiated responsibility.  The injustices of intensifying climate breakdown, overlapping with injustices from the COVID-19 pandemic, have laid bare the fault lines of suffering across sites and scales.  A climate justice framework helps us to better understand and address these inequities.  Climate justice fundamentally is about paying attention to how climate change multipliers impact people differently, unevenly, and disproportionately, as well as redressing the resultant injustices in fair and equitable ways.  In this talk, I discuss how and why an intersectional critical climate justice perspective allows for more equitable interventions to be envisioned and co-created for meaningful impacts.

Dr. Farhana Sultana is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary scholar whose work spans the topics of nature-society relationships, political ecology, water governance, climate change, post-colonial development, sustainability, social and environmental justice, transnational feminism, citizenship, human rights, and decolonizing academia. Farhana Sultana received her B.A. (Honors) in Geosciences and Environmental Studies from Princeton University, graduating Cum Laude. She obtained her M.A. in Geography  from the University of Minnesota, where she enhanced her interdisciplinary training and was a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow. Between 1998-2001, Farhana was a Programme Officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) responsible for managing a $26M environmental management program in Bangladesh. Through this experience, she worked with a wide variety of international organizations, government agencies, and NGOs, and obtained a keener understanding of environment-development issues in theory and practice. Farhana returned to complete her Ph.D. program in the Department of Geography at the University of Minnesota, where she was both a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow and an International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Fellow. Farhana was a Visiting Fellow at the School of Environment and Development at the University of Manchester during 2005-2006. From 2006-2008, Farhana was a faculty member in the Geography Department at King’s College London. She relocated to the US in 2008 where she has been a faculty member in the Department of Geography and the Environment at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Getting to the “Bottom” of River Food Webs

Emily Arsenault ’14, Postdoctoral Researcher, Bates College
Friday, November 5th
Noon, Dana

We need food to keep us going, and so do other animal consumers.  Identifying the types of resources that support ecosystem food webs is important for our understanding and management of diverse organisms and environments.  However, quantifying resource use in rivers is complicated because energy can come from algal resources originating in the aquatic system, as well as from leaves and other organic matter originating from surrounding terrestrial environments.  Learn how we used an emerging tool to solve a decades-long debate about whether aquatic or terrestrial resources provide the ultimate support for whole river food webs.

Emily Arsenault is a postdoctoral researcher and adjunct lecturer at Bates College with research interests in food webs, stable isotopes, and macrosystem ecology. She graduated with Honors and Distinction in Environmental Studies from Colby College, earned her MA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Kansas and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

ES Faculty Research

Gail Carlson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Leeann Sullivan, Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Friday, November 19th
Noon, Dana

Gail Carlson is the Director of the Buck Lab and has been a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College since 2005.  She teaches and conducts research on the human health impacts of climate change, chemical pollution and food insecurity. She also teaches courses on global health and environmental activism, and she frequently advocates for safer chemicals policies and environmental protections in the media (here and here) and at the Maine State Legislature. Gail is involved in numerous civic engagement projects with students, including Food for Thought, which brings Colby students and local school children together to explore gardening, nutrition, and food security. Beyond Colby, she is Chair of the Science Advisory Council for the Portland, Maine-based organization Defend Our Health , and she served on their board for six years.  Gail earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Leeann Sullivan is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies.  Her research and teaching focus on environmental governance and the social processes and institutions through which science and social values interact to effect policy.  Her recent research has explored the potential ways in which institutional legacies shape potential trajectories moving forward.  Dr. Sullivan received her Ph.D. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University, her MA in International Relations and Environmental Policy from Boston University, and her BA with High Distinction in Political Science from Ohio Northern University.

Evening Lecture Series

In the Lead up to COP26 of the UNFCCC

Mizan Khan, Deputy Director ICCCAD, IUB & Program Director LUCCC
Tuesday, October 5th
7 p.m., Virtual

Prof. Mizan R. Khan will discuss the politics around and main issues to be negotiated at the COP26 as well as provide background about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process.

Prof. Mizan R. Khan has a PhD in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Maryland School of Public Policy (UMCP), MD, USA. Currently Prof. Khan has two hats at ICCCAD: Deputy Director and as Programme Director of Least Developed Countries University Consortium on Climate Change (LUCCC). Prior to joining ICCCAD, he has worked in academia as a Professor for more than 18 years along with working closely with the Government and the development sector of Bangladesh and beyond. During 2015, Prof. Mizan has served as the Director of External Affairs at North South University (NSU). He was also an Adjunct Professor at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Manitoba, Canada, during 2009-2013 and had been a Visiting Professor/Fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Maryland at College Park, MD, USA (Fall 2018); Universite de Poitiers, France (February 2015) & at Brown University, USA (Spring & Fall, 2012; Spring 2013 and Fall 2016). Prof Mizan is a Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

From August 1981 he served at the Bangladesh Institute of International & Strategic Studies (BIISS), Dhaka, where he was a Research Director from May 1998 through June 2001. Before joining as Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Management at NSU in early July 2003, he served for four years as UNDP Environment Policy Specialist, working with the Government of Bangladesh. In the early 1990s, he worked for three years as a Senior Researcher at the Centre for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) of the UMCP, MD. He was Vice Chair of the Least Developed Countries Expert Group under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) during 2002-2004. He has been attending the UNFCCC process as the lead negotiator on climate finance with the Bangladesh delegation since 2001. Prof. Khan has a wide range of publications in peer-reviewed journals along with three books on climate change economics & politics published by Routledge and MIT Press since 2014.

Wabanaki Place Names

James Francis, Penobscot Tribal Historian and Darren Ranco, Chair of Native American Programs, University of Maine
Thursday, October 14th
7 p.m., Virtual

James E. Francis, Sr. is Penobscot Nation’s Tribal Historian, where he studies the relationship between Maine Native Americans and the landscape.  James is an historical researcher, photographer, filmmaker, and graphics artist.  Prior to working at the Penobscot Nation, James worked for the Wabanaki Studies Commission helping implement the new Maine Native American Studies Law into Maine schools.  James co-produced a film, Invisible, which examines racism experienced by Native Americans in Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.

Darren Ranco has a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology, the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions and in Native American Programs, where he serves as Chair of Native American Programs and Coordinator of Native American Research.  His research focuses on the ways in which indigenous communities in the United States resist environmental destruction by using indigenous diplomacies and critiques of liberalism to protect cultural resources, and how state knowledge systems, rooted in colonial contexts, continue to expose indigenous peoples to an inordinate amount of environmental risk.  He teaches classes on indigenous intellectual property rights, research ethics, environmental justice and tribal governance.  A member of the Penobscot Nation, he is particularly interested in how better research relationships can be made between universities, Native and non-Native researchers, and indigenous communities.

Shannon Elizabeth Bell, Ph.D.

Shannon Elizabeth Bell, Associate Professor of Sociology, Virginia Tech
Tuesday, November 2nd
7 p.m., Virtual

Shannon Elizabeth Bell is Associate Professor of Sociology at Virginia Tech. Her research falls at the intersection of environmental sociology, gender, and social movements, with a particular focus on understanding the ways in which environmentally-destructive industries acquire, maintain, and exercise their power and discovering strategies for increasing the political participation of communities most affected by environmental injustices. She is author of two award-winning books: Fighting King Coal: The Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia (MIT Press, 2016) and Our Roots Run Deep as Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2013). Professor Bell is the 2017 recipient of the Excellence in Research Award from the Rural Sociological Society and has also received the Environmental Sociology Practice & Outreach Award, the Robert Boguslaw Award for Technology and Humanism, the Rural Sociology Best Paper Award, and the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award.

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D.
Tuesday, November 9th
7 p.m., Virtual

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native.  She is founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities, and co-creator and co-host of the Spotify/Gimlet podcast How to Save a Planet. With Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, she co-edited the climate anthology All We Can Save, and co-founded The All We Can Save Project. Recently, she co-authored the Blue New Deal, a roadmap for including the ocean in climate policy. Previously, she was executive director of the Waitt Institute, developed policy at the EPA and NOAA, served as a leader of the March for Science, and taught as an adjunct professor at New York University. Dr. Johnson earned a BA from Harvard University in environmental science and public policy, and a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in marine biology. She publishes widely, including in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Time, and she blogs on Scientific American. She is on the 2021 Time 100 Next List and was named one of Elle’s 27 Women Leading on Climate. Outside Magazine called her  “the most influential marine biologist of our time.” Her mission is to build community around solutions to our climate crisis. Find her @ayanaeliza.

Cosponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Policy, Center for the Arts and the Humanities, and the Oak Institute for Human Rights.

Kathi Jo Jankowski

Research Ecologist, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, USGS
Tuesday, November 16th
7 p.m., Olin-1

Kathi Jo Jankowski is the Principal Investigator for the Water Quality Component of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program’s Long-term Resource Monitoring Element.  She coordinates water quality monitoring and research on the Upper Mississippi in coordination with several federal and state agencies. Her research aims to understand how land use and climate change impact ecosystem processes in large rivers. She is specifically interested in nutrient and carbon cycling, ecosystem metabolism and food web ecology and has worked in freshwater systems from the boreal zone to the tropics.


Documentary film screening
Tuesday, November 30th
7 p.m., Ostrove

KISS THE GROUND, narrated by Woody Harrelson and directed by critically acclaimed directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, unveils a game-changer: We can reverse global warming and the Earth’s soil is the solution.  By regenerating earth, we can completely and rapidly stabilize our planet’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies.  With epic footage shot on five continents, striking visuals from NASA and NOAA, and stunning animation, the documentary conveys this critical message through the voices of leading scientists, ecologists, and experts including Nobel Laureates in climate, members of the International Panel on Climate Change, top scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, as well as environmental activists.  As an urgent call to action in addressing the world’s climate crisis, KISS THE GROUND artfully illustrates an accessible, relatively simple solution to humanity’s greatest challenge