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 2020 Environmental Studies Virtual Lecture Series

Lunchtime Lecture Series

Stories from the Field: Summer Internship and Research Presentations

Friday, September 11th
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

How Climate Change is Shaping the Future of Right Whales

Nicholas Record, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Friday, September 25th

The North Atlantic right whale is one of Earth’s most endangered animals; only about 400 individuals remain. They play an important role in the marine ecosystem, and, because of their endangered status, a great amount of effort goes into understanding the population, even to the level of individual whales. In the Gulf of Maine, climate change is reorganizing the ecosystem, putting their future at risk. Oceanographic changes, driven by climate change, are occurring so rapidly that efforts to manage the species have had to be reactive. Advances in oceanographic forecasting can offer key insights to improving protections for whales in a more variable environment.

Maine e-DNA Research

Michael Kinnison, Ph.D., UMaine System Trustee Professor and UM Maine- eDNA Research Lead
Friday, November 6th

Evening Lecture Series

Design for Community Resilience in the Age of Disasters

Jasmine Qin ’12
Tuesday, September 8th
7 p.m.

As climate change continues to worsen along with the increasing complexity and interaction of human systems with nature, we are confronted with more frequent and severe disasters. In the face of humanitarian crises, grassroots organizations are among the most important disaster responders, and often best positioned to deploy the right responses to the right places. However, there is a clear gap in the current disaster management system in engaging and empowering grassroots organizations. In response to the growing challenges, Jasmine Qin ’12 explores how to bring together the power of data, technology, social and behavioral sciences to co-design a civic technology solution with community residents, grassroots organizations, and disaster management agencies to boost resilience.

Intersections in Environmental Literature, Environmental Justice, and Social Justice: A Reading and Conversation with Camille Dungy

Camille Dungy, Ph.D.
Tuesday, September 22nd
7 p.m.

Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017), winner of the Colorado Book Award, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood and History (W.W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dungy has also edited anthologies including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, her honors include NEA Fellowships in poetry (2003) and prose (2018), an American Book Award, two NAACP Image Award nominations, and two Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominations.

PUBLIC TRUST: The Fight for America’s Public Lands film screening and discussion with producer

Jeremy Rubingh
Tuesday, September 29th
7 p.m.

In a time of growing polarization, Americans still share something in common: 640 million acres of public land. Held in trust by the federal government for all citizens of the United States, these places are a stronghold against climate change, sacred to native people, home to wildlife and intrinsic to our national identity. But today, despite support from voters across the political spectrum, they face unprecedented threats from extractive industries and the politicians in their pockets. Part love letter, part political exposé, PUBLIC TRUST investigates how we arrived at this precarious moment through three heated conflicts—a national monument in the Utah desert, a proposed mine in the Boundary Waters and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—and makes a case for their continued protection.

Naomi Klein

Tuesday, October 6th
7 p.m.

Naomi Klein is the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University, and an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist, and international and New York Times bestselling author of, No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (2017), This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000). In 2018, she published The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists (2018) reprinted from her feature article for The Intercept with all royalties donated to Puerto Rican organization On September 17, 2019, her next book: On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal was published worldwide. It was an instant New York Times bestseller and a #1 Canadian bestseller.

Ocean Optimism: Success Stories in Ocean Conservation

Nancy Knowlton, Ph.D.
Tuesday, October 20th
7 p.m.

We have faced over the last decade and unrelenting torrent of bad news about the ocean, and past losses and future threats cannot be denied.  Yet much of the damage the ocean has suffered to date stems from problems we can do something about.  Indeed, in recent years we have witnessed a growing number of successes in saving species, protecting places, harvesting wisely, reducing pollution, and restoring habitats.  Some whale populations have come back from the brink, and turtles are returning to some beaches.  Sea otters once decimated by hunting now attract tourists, and oysters are returning to America’s coastal waters.  These and other examples inspired the Ocean Optimism initiative (including #OceanOptimism) that Dr. Knowlton helped to launch in order to recognize, learn from, replicate, scale up, and celebrate our successes.  There is still much to be done, but only focusing on the “doom and gloom” can lead to apathy.  As Joan Baez wrote, action is the antidote to despair.

Dr. Nancy Knowlton is the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a scientific leader of the Census of Marine Life. She wrote the book, Citizens of the Sea, to celebrate the ten years of the Census. She founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego. Knowlton has devoted her life to studying, celebrating, and striving to protect the multitude of life-forms that call the sea home. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

Water and Migration: Farmers’ Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change in the West African Sahel

Isaie Dougnon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Humanitarian Affairs, Fordham University
Tuesday, October 27th
7 p.m.

This talk is based on a new concept in the field of research on migration and climate change, and focuses on the Sahel region in West Africa.  The Sahel, a transitional zone between the Sahara desert and the savanna, has been particularly affected by desertification, which has led to the unpredictable rainfall and drought.  This is also an area of significant out-migration to other parts of Africa and Europe.  In Mali, the EU estimates that 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes because of climate-related insecurity.  Considering the movement of Sahelian populations in search of areas with heavier rainfall or irrigation, the overall goal of this talk is to examine the interdependence existing between migration, conflict, and climate change in order to confront the challenges facing rural development in the Sahal.


Spring 2020 Environmental Studies Lecture Series

Lunchtime Lecture Series

Forest Certification and Environmental Transparency Ratings of Oil, Gas, and Mining Companies in Russia

Evgeny Shvarts, Ph.D., Lead Scientist, Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, J. William Fullbright Scholar
Friday, February 14th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Lecture, Dana 002

Contemporary environmental regulatory tools draw on a combination of ‘hard’ mandatory regulatory measures imposed by the government and ‘soft’ voluntary commitments to environmental responsibility standards adopted by companies. Mandatory regulatory requirements aim to cut off most irresponsible companies, but do very little to create positive incentive for the better performing business. Under such conditions companies opt to adopt the minimum requirements, but are reluctant to go beyond legality and become more sustainable. Some companies choose to adopt voluntary environmental standards, which they believe will increase their competitive advantage in environmentally sensitive markets and afford access to longer‐term and affordable sources of finance. This presentation will discuss how environmental ratings could be effectively used to increase transparency and improve environmental performance as well as how wider proliferation and application of international voluntary standards and ratings in emerging economies could create disincentives for Foreign Direct Investments seeking to invest in “pollution havens.”

Jan Plan Internship Presentations

Wednesday, February 21st & 28th
11:30 lunch, 12:00 presentations

Lunch Conversation with Water Advocates Maude Barlow and Emma Lui

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Emma Lui, water activist
Wednesday, February 26th
Noon, Bobby Silberman Lounge

Join us for a lunchtime discussion between Maude Barlow, best-selling author of 16 books and an expert on global water, and Emma Lui, water activist and writer. Students, professors, and staff are all welcome to come to learn and participate. We will be covering topics such as water privatization and careers in advocacy. Lunch will be provided.

Lunch Conversation with Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, Dr. Naomi Oreskes

Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Friday, March 6th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Discussion, Grossman 209

Naomi Oreskes is professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University. A world-renowned geologist, historian and public speaker, she is a leading voice on the role of science in society and the reality of anthropogenic climate change.

Oreskes is author or co-author of 7 books, and over 150 articles, essays and opinion pieces, including, most recently, Discerning Experts (University Chicago Press, 2019), Why Trust Science? (Princeton University Press, 2019), and Science on a Mission: American Oceanography from the Cold War to Climate Change, (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming). Merchants of Doubt, co-authored with Erik Conway, was the subject of a documentary film of the same name produced by participant Media and distributed by SONY Pictures Classics, and has been translated into nine languages. In July 2019 she was awarded the British Academy Medal for her books with Erik M. Conway, Merchants of Doubt and The Collapse of Western Civilization (Bloomsbury Press), and her commitment to documenting the role of corporations in distorting scientific findings for political ends. A new edition of Merchants of Doubt, with an introduction by Al Gore, will be published in 2020.

Island Institute: Island Fellows Program

Andy Theriault, Community Development Officer, Island Institute
Friday, March 13th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Talk, Dana 002


The Island Institute works alongside Maine’s island and coastal leaders to catalyze community sustainability in the state’s 120 island and coastal communities and share what works among these diverse communities and beyond.

The Island Island Fellows Program is a signature program of the Island Institute.  Since 1999, the Island Fellows Program has placed recent college and master’s degree graduates in Maine’s coastal and year-round island communities to work on community identified projects.  Island Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for recent graduates to apply their skills and experience to help build sustainability within communities whose way of life and identity face great challenges and even greater opportunities.

Sustainable Farming in Maine: Current and Future Trends- Panel Discussion and Food & Agriculture Expo

Anna Lappe, Co-Director of Real Food Media; Sarah Alexander, Executive Director of MOFGA; Ellen Griswold, Policy and Research Director, Maine Farmland Trust
Tuesday, April 14th
Panel 2:00-3:00 p.m., Job Fair and Expo 3:00-4:00 p.m., Page Commons

Lunch Discussion and Book Reading with Jane Brox

Jane Brox, Author and Buck Prize Judge
Tuesday, April 28th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Discussion and Reading

JANE BROX‘s fifth book, Silence, was published in January 2019, and was selected as an Editors’ Choice by The New York Times Book Review. Her previous book, Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light, was named one of the top ten nonfiction books of 2010 by Time magazine. She is also the author of Clearing Land: Legacies of the American FarmFive Thousand Days Like This One, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction; and Here and Nowhere Else, which won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award. She has received the New England Book Award for nonfiction, and her essays have appeared in many anthologies including Best American EssaysThe Norton Book of Nature Writing, and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She has been awarded grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Maine Arts Commission.

She has taught at Harvard University and Bowdoin College, and is currently on the faculty of Lesley University’s low-residency MFA Program.

Evening Lecture Series

“Sea of Shadows” film screening and discussion

Discussion Led by Loren McClenachan and Ben Neal
Tuesday, February 25th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise.

SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice.

Maude Barlow, Global Water Expert

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson, Council of Canadians
Wednesday, February 26th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

Best-selling author of 16 books and an expert on global water, Maude Barlow has just released her latest book, “Whose Water it is Anyway?” Maude is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and chairs Food & Water Watch’s board. She is also an executive member of the San Francisco-based International Forum on Globalization and a Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council.

In “Whose Water is it, Anyway?” Barlow explores the urgent need for water protection in a world that is running out of fresh water. Taking water protection into public hands, she explores how the Blue Communities Project gives people tools they can use to protect water.

Why Trust Science?

Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
Thursday, March 5th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

Do doctors know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when our own politicians don’t? In this talk, Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, but not for the reasons you might think. Professor Oreskes argues that science is not realiable because of “the scientific method.” Nor is it reliable because scientists are exceptionally smart or ethical people. (They may or may not be.)

Contrary to popular belief, there is no single scientific method. Rather, the trustworthiness of scientific claims derives from the social process by which they are rigorously vetted. This process is not perfect—nothing ever is when humans are involved—but she draws vital lessons from cases where scientists got it wrong. Oreskes shows how consensus is a crucial indicator of when a scientific matter has been settled, and when the knowledge produced is likely to be trustworthy.

Connections Between Climate Change, Food Insecurity, and Conflict

Kimberly Flowers, Director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs
Wednesday, March 11th
7 p.m.,  Parker Reed Room, Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center

Spring Hollis Lecture: Dr. Nancy Knowlton

Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Tuesday, March 31st
7 p.m.,  Olin 1

Dr. Nancy Knowlton is the Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and a scientific leader of the Census of Marine Life. She wrote the book, Citizens of the Sea, to celebrate the ten years of the Census. She founded the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, San Diego. Knowlton has devoted her life to studying, celebrating, and striving to protect the multitude of life-forms that call the sea home. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

Energy/Exhaustion Keynote Speaker; 2019-2020 Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Humanities

Naomi Klein
Tuesday, April 7th
7 p.m.,  Lorimer Chapel


Naomi Klein is the inaugural Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University, and an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and international and New York Times bestselling author of, No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need (2017), This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000). In 2018, she published The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes On the Disaster Capitalists (2018) reprinted from her feature article for The Intercept with all royalties donated to Puerto Rican organization On September 17, 2019, her next book: On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal was published worldwide. It was an instant New York Times bestseller and a #1 Canadian bestseller.

Tickets available to Colby Students, Faculty, and Staff in Pulver Pavilion, Wednesday, March 30, Thursday, March 31, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., and Thursday, April 1, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. or as long as tickets last.

Students: One ticket per person. Faculty and Staff: Two tickets per person. Colby ID required to obtain tickets. Students may pick up tickets for others with multiple Colby IDs.

A limited number of tickets will be available to the public Thursday, April 1, beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until 4 p.m. or until tickets are gone. Members of the public can pick up tickets on campus in Pulver Pavilion (in Cotter Union). Two tickets per person, please.

The Future of Food

Anna Lappe
Tuesday, April 14th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove Auditorium

Anna Lappe is a national bestselling author, a respected advocate for food justice and sustainability, and an advisor to funders investing in food system transformation.  A recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award, Anna is the co-author of three books and the contributing author to more than a dozen others.  Named one of TIME’s “eco” Who’s-Who, Anna is the founder or co-founder of three national organizations, including the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund, which she launched with her mother, Frances Moore Lappe.  She currently co-directs Real Food Media, based at Corporate Accountability, which uses storytelling, media strategy and communications collaborations to reveal the true cost of industrial agriculture and the power of just and sustainable food systems to create healthy, thriving communities.  Anna holds an M.A. in Economic and Political Development from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and graduated with honors from Brown University

Sharon Gunyup, National Geographic Explorer

Sharon Gunyup, National Geographic Explorer
Tuesday, April 21st
7 p.m.,  Olin 1

Sharon Guynup is a journalist and author who focuses her work on environmental issues. She’s traveled widely through Asia, Latin America and Africa to cover wildlife and ecosystems, energy and climate change, and the effect pollution has on living things. For the last few years, much of her work has delved into poaching and “wildlife crime” — the lucrative, global, cartel-driven illegal wildlife trade. Her 2016 investigation into the famed Thai Tiger Temple for National Geographic published strong allegations of illegal wildlife trade stretching back a decade, causing Thai officials to confiscate all 147 tigers and shut the operation down. Throughout her career, Guynup has combined her writing and visual skills to produce feature stories and multimedia pieces for publications including National Geographic, The New York Times, Smithsonian and Scientific American. Her work has earned awards from the New York Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.

50 Years: Maine & the Clean Air Act (1970)

Panel Discussion with: Erik Reardon (History Department), Philip Nyhus, and Gail Carlson (Environmental Studies Program)
Wednesday, April 22nd
7 p.m.,  Wormser Room, Miller Library

In this inaugural event celebrating 50 years: Maine in the Environmental Decade, we will explore the history and importance of the modern U.S. Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, the pivotal role played by Maine’s Senator Edmund S. Muskie, the impacts on human health and the environment, and the future of this important law.

The year 1970 was pivotal for environmental policy in the United States. On January 1, President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to complete environmental impact statements and created the cabinet-level Council on Environmental Quality. That same year President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and signed the 1970 Clean Air Act amendments into law. Also in 1970, an estimated 20 million people marched in support of environmental protection in the first Earth Day, the largest demonstration in American history. These actions heralded a decade of innovative environmental laws and initiatives now widely referred to as the “Environmental Decade.” 

Colby’s Environmental Studies Program, founded in 1971 and one of the oldest academic environmental programs in the country, has shared much of this history. Important figures from Maine played key roles during the “Environmental Decade.” The Environmental Studies Program is pleased to support a multi-year series of events to commemorate this transformative period in U.S. history and its continued legacy today.

Fall 2019 Environmental Studies Lecture Series

2019 Maine College Climate Action Summit

Keynote: Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President, Hip Hop Caucus
Saturday, November 9th
9:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., Diamond Building

Join college students from around Maine for a day of networking, student organizing, workshops, policy solutions, and action to address climate change.

Keynote speaker Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. is a Minister, national leader and community activist committed to mobilizing the Hip Hop generation to utilize its political and social voice as the President and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus.  As a national leader, speaker, and activist in the environmental movement, he has successfully raised awareness of political, civil rights and social justice issues disproportionately impacting communities of color by engaging and building powerful relationships with the Hip Hop community and key environmental leaders.  He is a leading national moral voice on climate and environment.


Lunchtime Lecture Series

Environmental Entrepreneurship: The Logic and Experience of Transforming Your Passion and Vision into a Career

Charles F. Gauvin J.D., Adviser on Strategy, Leadership and Philanthropy
Friday, September 20th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Lecture, Dana

Charles Gauvin’s inspiration to work for the environment first arose when he was a kid living on the shore of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay, where he fished and foraged and first encountered the effects of water pollution.  His career during the 1980’s as an activist, teacher, government official, and lawyer engaged him in many of the front-burner issues of the day: clean water, acid rain, and solid waste reduction and recycling.  Then, for the next 20 years, as the CEO of a fish and river conservation group, he had the chance to experience another side of environmentalism, where he grappled with land, water, and fish and wildlife policy issues, leading him closer and closer to confronting today’s (and tomorrow’s) challenge: climate change.  Today, as an adviser to conservation groups and philanthropists, he continues to take on the climate challenge using new approaches and tools.

The common theme in his life since college has been a fusion of passion, vision, and work.  He cannot say for certain whether logic or just plain luck got him here, but his experience has strengthened his understanding of how to approach environmental (and environmental career) challenges strategically.  He will offer some thoughts on how Colby students can blend passion, vision, goals, and strategies and take on our most critical challenges in ways that are effective and personally satisfying.

Diversifying Working Waterfronts

Nick Battista, J.D.
Senior Policy Officer, Island Institute
Friday, October 4th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Lecture, Dana

Nick will present on the work being done by the Island Institute around community building, responding to climate/economic drivers, and the future of coastal communities and the work they are doing with fishermen.  This talk will cover why and how they do this work and the strategies employed to build community through their work.

Complicated tapestries of treeless landscapes: the interrelationships of insects, plants, and nutrients in prairies

Chelse Prather, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Dayton; Director Insect Ecology Lab
Friday, October 11th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Lecture, Dana

Prairies are extremely important for humans, and yet an astonishingly little amount of historical prairies remain. Insects are provide critical ecosystem services in prairie ecosystems, and, as such, understanding the factors that structure their communities is an important ecological endeavor. Our lab is currently engaged in observational and manipulative field experiments coupled with laboratory and greenhouse experiments to determine the various factors that regulate insect community composition in several different prairies across the US. I will show results from a latitudinal study of tallgrass prairies showing how insect community composition influences prairie functioning. Additionally, I will show how our lab tested the relative contributions of limiting nutrients, plant community structure, and disturbances in structuring aboveground and litter insect communities in coastal tallgrass prairies in Texas with a large-scale fertilization experiment. I will also discuss our work determining how invasive species of plants and insects interact in these prairies. Lastly, I will discuss how insect communities may be used to indicate successful prairie restoration in tallgrass prairies in the Midwest. Taken together, these results show the importance of to prairies and the factors regulating insect communities, including micronutrients concentrations, disturbances, species interactions, and land use history in tallgrass prairies across the US.

ontemporary environmental regulatory tools draw on a combination of ‘hard’ mandatory regulatory measures imposed by the government and ‘soft’ voluntary commitments to environmental responsibility standards adopted by companies. Mandatory regulatory requirements aim to cut off most irresponsible companies, but do very little to create positive incentive for the better performing business. Under such conditions companies opt to adopt the minimum requirements, but are reluctant to go beyond legality and become more sustainable. Some companies choose to adopt voluntary environmental standards, which they believe will increase their competitive advantage in environmentally sensitive markets and afford access to longer‐term and affordable sources of finance. This presentation will discuss how environmental ratings could be effectively used to increase transparency and improve environmental performance as well as how wider proliferation and application of international voluntary standards and ratings in emerging economies could create disincentives for Foreign Direct Investments seeking to invest in “pollution havens.”

Balance and Imbalance: A Celebration of Nature and a Call to Action

Marnie Sinclair, Visual Artist
Friday, November 15th
11:30 Lunch, Noon Presentations, Dana

The art work and stories in this exhibition are a culmination of 9 years of scientific research on climate change, environmental degradation, and the perfect balance in nature, as witnessed through the magic of plant communication and interspecies symbiotic relationships found in the natural world. Each selected story inspired the accompanying interpretative art.  By breaking down the complex and consequential stories of man’s influence on the planet I have satisfied my own curiosity and hopefully will help to inform others about the challenges that face our time. We need to understand our influences on the natural world, and work to change the trajectory that we are now on. In addition to the art and stories there will also be a film  shown entitled ‘Nature’s Spin through Art,’ which weaves the story of climate change as told by three experts in the field. I have used my art to illustrate their stories. I also have an accompanying book, which shares the same name as the show, and includes most of the work shown in the exhibit plus other relevant work that is no longer available.

Evening Lecture Series

Male elephants & female farmers; conflict to resolution

Kate Evans, Ph.D.
Founder and Director, Elephants for Africa
Thursday, September 26th
7 p.m.,  Olin 1

In recent times the African savannah elephant has recolonized historical rangelands in Botswana due to ecological shifts. This range expansion has brought elephants into increasing contact with rural communities, many of whom have not had to deal with elephants for one or two generations. Elephants for Africa (EfA) works with communities bordering the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (home to a population of majority male elephants), partnering with farmers and schools to deliver educational programmes to enable them to work towards human-elephant coexistence. The majority of the farmers EfA works with are women, many of whom are grandmothers supporting their extended family through the food they produce. EfA’s holistic approach of understanding the needs of both humans and male elephants in this unique landscape is building the foundations for long-term conservation solutions for Botswana and her elephants alongside the economic stability of rural communities.

The Dam that would not Die: Yamba

Philip Brown, Ph.D.
Department of HIstory, The Ohio State University
Monday, September 30th
4 p.m.,  Miller 14

In the present environmentally conscious era, one that is witnessing sustained and successful efforts to decommission dams, Japan continues to build new dams. After China, the U.S. and India, Japan ranks fourth in the world in the construction of large dams over the past century.  As with most countries, the great majority of large dams were built after the conclusion of World War II.  Similar to North America and Europe, Japan has vocal environmental pressure groups. Yet Japan continues to be a “DamNation.” Through a case study of one dam, Yamba, Brown explores the nature of Japanese planning for large civil engineering projects, post-war democratic reform, and the relative priorities given to local environmental concerns or national economic objectives and political alliances.

Climate Crisis and Indigenous Resistance

Tara Houska
Tribal Attorney
Wednesday, October 2nd
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal attorney based in Washington, D.C., the national campaigns director of Honor the Earth and a former adviser on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders.  She advocates on behalf of tribal nations at the local and federal levels on a range of issues impacting indigenous peoples.  She will speak about the months she spent in North Dakota fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the concept of nature rights in relation to water.  Cosponsored by the Oak Institute for Human Rights, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Anthropology Department.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Elizabeth Rush
Thursday, October 10th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

Elizabeth Rush will address the role of activism and writing, including the pressing issues of climate disruption and environmental justice. In Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Rush examines the impact of climate-driven sea level rise on many small communities in Maine and the US – and the world by extension – where coastal marshes and the people living nearby are already losing ground.

Elizabeth Rush is the author of “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore,” a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. Her work explores how humans adapt to changes enacted upon them by forces seemingly beyond their control, from ecological transformation to political revolution. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the New York Times, National Geographic, the Guardian, the Atlantic, Harpers, Guernica, Granta, Orion, Creative Nonfiction, The Washington Post, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the New Republic, among others.

Mapping the Water Crisis: The Dismantlement of African American Neighborhoods in Detroit

Monica Lewis-Patrick
Co-Founder, President, and CEO, We the People of Detroit
Wednesday, October 16th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

Monica Lewis-Patrick is an educator, entrepreneur, and human rights activist/advocate. She has served as Director of Community Outreach & Engagement since 2009. Monica is actively engaged in struggles on behalf of Detroit residents. She is an active member of the People’s Water Board Coalition, US Human Rights Network, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and, and was named to the World Water Justice Council in October of 2015. As a former Lead Legislative Policy Analyst for Detroit City Council, Monica has authored legislation, conducted research and delivered constituency services to thousands of city residents. Monica attended the historic Bennett College. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Bachelors degree in Social Work and Sociology and a Masters of Arts of Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in Criminal Justice/Sociology and Public Management. She is currently one of the leaders at the forefront of the water rights struggle in Detroit.

Co-sponsored with the Oak Institute for Human Rights

F. Russell Cole Distinguished Lectureship in Environmental Studies

Urgency & Agency in the Battle to Avert a Climate Crisis

Michael Mann, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State; Director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State
Wednesday, October 30th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove

Human-caused climate change represents arguably the greatest threat we face as a civilization. Efforts to attack and deny the scientific evidence have constituted a major impediment to action over the past two decades. At a time when we appear to be moving past outright denial of the problem, another obstacle has emerged on the scene: Doomist framing that exaggerates the threat in such a way as to make catastrophic changes seem unavoidable. Such framing can lead us down the very same path of inaction as outright denial of the problem. It is important, in the end, to emphasize both urgency AND agency in climate change communication efforts.


Past Environmental Studies Lecture Series

Lunchtime Lecture Series

Jan Plan Internship Presentations

Wednesday, February 13th & 20th
11:30 lunch, 12:00 presentations

Addressing Environmental Challenges through People, Policy & Technology

Jun Ma
Founding Director, Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs
Thursday, February 21st
4 p.m., Grossman 209

Jun Ma will introduce the work of China’s environmental NGO- IPE.  More specifically the talk discusses how IPE and its civil society partners have promoted the expansion of public access to environmental information, how IPE’s work has led to major policy shifts in China, and what are the ongoing efforts and massive potential in greening the global supply chain and investment through information technology and increased transparency.

Changing the Narrative: Lawrence’s Resiliency

Lesly Melendez
Deputy Director, Groundwork Lawrence
Wednesday, March 13th
Noon, Silberman Lounge

SHOUT! Week 2019 ES lunchtime environmental justice lecture. Groundwork Lawrence (GWL) has been making change happen since its beginnings in 1999.  Through its environmental and open space improvements, healthy food access programs, youth education, employment initiatives, community programming and events, GWL creates the building blocks of a healthy community, and empowers residents to improve their quality of life.

Groundwork projects transform vacant and often contaminated open spaces into parks, playgrounds, gardens, wooded trails and pathways, promoting healthy pursuits.  Their community food programs, including farmers markets, community gardens, an urban farm, and Share a Share program combine fresh food access with education in an effort to reduce the city’s disproportionately high rates of diet-related disease. GWL also hosts an EPA funded Training for Sustainability Job program, Healthy Living Workshop, youth education, a Green Team, urban tree planting, and water quality research.

Evening Lectures

Farming in Penobscot Bay: Aquaculture and Applied Research on Hurricane Island

Teddy Simpson ’17
Program Manager, Hurricane Island Foundation
Tuesday, February 12th
7 p.m.,  Olin 1

The Hurricane Island Foundation integrates science education, applied research, and leadership development through year-round educational programs and a seasonal, environmentally-sustainable island community. Current research explores community-driven questions in the emerging kelp and scallop aquaculture industries. The foundation engages students, fishermen, scientists, teachers, and community members on the water, in the classroom, and in the lab. Come learn about Hurricane Island, the programs, research, and island community.

2019 Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Humanities Public Lecture

Mark Dion
Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Humanities
Wednesday, February 27th
7 p.m.,  Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building

Mark Dion is an American conceptual artist whose work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. The job of the artist, he says, is to go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention. Appropriating archaeological, field ecology and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between ‘objective’ (‘rational’) scientific methods and ‘subjective’ (‘irrational’) influences. Dion also frequently collaborates with museums of natural history, aquariums, zoos and other institutions mandated to produce public knowledge on the topic of nature. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the objectivity and authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society, tracking how pseudo-science, social agendas and ideology creep into public discourse and knowledge production.

Mark Dion will be visiting Colby College February 26-March 1, 2019. His residency is co-sponsored by the Center for the Arts and Humanities, Colby College Museum of Art, The Lunder Institute, The Environmental Studies Program and the Art Department.

Addressing Environmental Challenges through People, Policy, & Technology

Jun Ma
Founding Director, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE)
Wednesday, February 27th
4:15 p.m.,  Grossman 209

Jun Ma, journalist, media designer, and environmentalist will introduce the work of China’s envrionmental NGO- IPE.  More specifically, the talk will discuss how IPE and its civil society partners have promoted the expansion of public access to environmental information, how IPE’s work has led to major policy shifts in China, and the ongoing efforts and massive potential in greening the global supply chain and investment through information technology and increased transparency.

Harnessing Remote Sensing and Wireless Sensor Network Technology to Document Environmental Change

David Lutz
Research Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College
Tuesday, March 5th
7 p.m.,  Olin 1

From pole to pole, human societies are increasingly having a notable and negative impact on their surrounding environment through land-use practices. These changes degrade ecological communities and can have social and economic consequences that in turn harm communal well-being. However, the answer to these challenges lie in a deep understanding of environmental processes and the careful observation of environmental patterns and dynamics in an effort to diagnose which management strategies will lead to better outcomes. In recent years, scientists have begun to rely on novel technologies to provide the types of observations necessary to construct better land-use practices. In this talk, I will discuss a few of these technologies, such as Google Earth Engine, hyperspectral remote sensing using unmanned aerial vehicles, and Arduino-based sensor networks, and provide case studies for how we use them in the context of environmental change. Discussing these methods will provide the Colby academic community, with new opportunities for environmental research and will showcase future directions for Colby students who are looking to enter the environmental and engineering fields.

SHOUT! Week 2019 Keynote Speaker

Dr. Carolyn Finney
Environmental Justice Activist, Storyteller, Author, and Cultural Geographer
Monday, March 11th, 7 p.m.,  Lorimer Chapel

Carolyn Finney wrote Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors. Her work challenges us to question whose stories frame or are left out of environmental institutions and issues. The questions she asks and prompts others to ask include: How do stories influence the ways we understand the world? How does representation in organization leadership make a difference in the work that is prioritized? How does race affect the lived experience? Who owns land and occupies space?

Dr. Finney has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Canon National Parks Science Scholar, and has received a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Studies. Along with public speaking, writing, consulting, and teaching (at Wellesley College, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Kentucky), Carolyn Finney served on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board for 8 years assisting the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities.

Co-sponsored by PCB, ES, the Center for Arts and Humanities, SGA, SPB, the Pugh Center, COC, English and Creative Writing, and Religious Studies.

Providing Answers about Air Pollution and other Prenatal Environmental Exposures

Abby Fleisch, MD, MPH
Attending Physician, Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes, Maine Medical Center
Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Maine Medical Research Institute
Tuesday, April 9th, 7 p.m.,  Diamond 142

Abby Fleisch, MD, MPH, is an environmental health researcher at the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Maine Medical Center Research Institute and a pediatric endocrinologist at Maine Medical Center. Dr. Fleisch received her undergraduate and medical degrees from Northwestern University. She completed residency in pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital/Boston Medical Center and fellowship in endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital. She participated in the Harvard-wide pediatric health services research fellowship and received a Masters of Public Health from Harvard TH Chan School of
Public Health. After serving on faculty at Boston Children’s Hospital for 3 years, she joined Maine Medical Center in October, 2016.

Dr. Fleisch’s research is focused on the extent to which prenatal and early life environmental exposures such as air pollution or consumer product chemicals are associated with child cardiometabolic health. Dr. Fleisch is the principal investigator of a K23 Career Development Award from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Her research has also been funded by an Environmental Health Faculty Development Award at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She received the Academic Pediatric Association Michael Shannon Research Award in 2012 and an Endocrine Society Early Career
Investigator Award in 2016.

Flips, locks and feedbacks: The lasting effects of fisheries on Maine’s kelp forest ecosystem

Robert Steneck
Professor of Marine Biology
University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences
Tuesday, April 16th, 7 p.m., Olin 1

Ecosystems can “flip” and, as a result of reinforcing feedback mechanisms, “lock” into alternative stable states. Our group studied patterns and processes that structure Maine’s kelp-forest ecosystem.  Over nearly four decades, we found two stable states: one dominated by green sea urchins and crustose coralline algae and the other by erect fleshy macroalgae.  Sea urchin herbivory drives algal deforestation whereas predators limit sea urchins to maintain the algal forested states.  Maine’s long history of fishing ecosystem-structuring species (first groundfish, then sea urchins) has triggered shifts between alternative states.  Our experiments suggest a surprisingly complex set of events resulted from herbivore-induced changes in habitat architecture that ultimately lead to the ascendency of large crabs (rather than a fish)  in our now “mesopredator”-dominated ecosystem.

THE HUMAN ELEMENT- Film Screening and Discussion with the Director

Matt Testa ’91
Wednesday, April 17th, 7 p.m., Ostrove Auditorium

We humans are a force of nature.  At the same time human activities alter the basic elements of life – earth, air, water, and fire – those elements change human life. In an arresting new documentary from the producers of RACING EXTINCTION, THE COVE, and CHASING ICE, environmental photographer James Balog captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change.  With rare compassion and heart, THE HUMAN ELEMENT’S coast-to-coast series of captivating stories inspires us to reevaluate our relationship with the natural world.

Watch the trailer:


Fall 2018 Environmental Studies Lecture Series

Lunchtime Lecture Series

Where in the World Did ES Majors Spend Their Summers?

Wednesday, September 12 & Wednesday September 19
Smith-Robins Room, Roberts
11:30 lunch, 12:00 presentations


Getting there from here: The role of implementation research in advancing global nutrition agendas

Dr. Andrea Warren
Research Associate, Colby College
Wednesday, September 26
11:30 lunch, 12:00 research talk

For the past decade, the goal of improving population-level nutritional status by way of targeting maternal and child nutrition in the first 1000 days of life has received unprecedented attention in low- and middle-income countries. Drawing on examples from my research into the mid-level implementing actors in Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program, as well as research into a donor strategy for nutrition programming in Kenya and India, I will discuss how implementation research can address a critical knowledge gap around how and why global nutrition policies and programs achieve, or fail to achieve, their goals, provide actionable guidance for improvements, and help sustain global commitment to nutrition goals.


Washington Watch: Threats to Maine’s Environment

Emmie Theberge
Federal Project Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
Wednesday, October 31
11:30 lunch, 12:00 presentation

Hear from Emmie Theberge (’08), Federal Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, about current threats coming from the Trump Administration and Congress that could hurt Maine’s clean air, water, wildlife, and climate—and what you can do to help protect Maine’s environment.

Title TBA

Dr. Justin Becknell
Assistant Professor Environmental Studies Program, Colby College
Wednesday, November 14
11:30 lunch, 12:00 research talk

Evening Lecture Series

Collaborative Conservation and the Future of Belgrade Lakes Woods and Waters

Laura Rose Day, CEO, 7 Lakes Alliance
Tuesday, September 18,  7:00pm, Olin 1


Trespassing across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and sort of Illegal) Hike along the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Ken Ilguanas, author
Tuesday, October 9, 7pm. Olin 1

Ken Ilgunas walked nearly 2,000 miles across North America, following the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline, from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Gulf Coast of Texas. On his journey Ken encountered stampedes of cows, charging moose, and climate change deniers. Come learn about Ken’s adventure, the world’s first modern journey across private property, on which he trespassed over one of the most ignored, yet beautiful, regions of our continent–the Great Plains. He’ll talk about the people of the heartland, the right to roam, and the stories that form the basis of his book, Trespassing across America.


PlanetVision: A Global Plan to Build a Better, More Sustainable Future

Dr. Jon Foley, California Academy of Science
F. Russell Cole Distinguished Lecturer in Environmental Studies
Tuesday, October 23, 7:00pm, Ostrove Auditorium

Climate change… Extreme weather events… Tropical deforestation… Worldwide overfishing… Plastics in the ocean… Collapsing water supplies… Emerging threats to our health, economy, and security…

The news on the global environmental front is grim.  But what if there was a practical plan, based on the latest science, that could turn it around, and help us build a better future?  That’s what PlanetVision is all about. PlanetVision is a multi-faceted set of solutions – focused on fixing the world’s food, water, and energy systems – that can help us pivot to a better, more sustainable world.

Rich with the latest insights from environmental science, emerging solutions from every part of the globe, powerfully motivating stories of practical solutions, and beautiful images, this presentation speaks to broad audiences, giving them a sense of hope for the future.