The Hollis Lectures were established through the generosity of the Hollis Foundation. The Hollis Lectures bring one nationally recognized practitioner/scholar to Colby per semester to present their views on major issues in the interdisciplinary field of environmental studies.

FALL 2019

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Thursday, October 10th at 7 p.m. in Ostrove

Elizabeth Rush, Journalist


With every passing day, and every record-breaking hurricane, it grows clearer that climate change is neither imagined nor distant―and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways. In Rising, Elizabeth Rush guides readers through some of the places where this change has been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami, and from New York City to the Bay Area. For many of the plants, animals, and humans in these places, the options are stark: retreat or perish in place.

Weaving firsthand testimonials from those facing this choice―a Staten Islander who lost her father during Sandy, the remaining holdouts of a Native American community on a drowning Isle de Jean Charles, a neighborhood in Pensacola settled by escaped slaves hundreds of years ago―with profiles of wildlife biologists, activists, and other members of these vulnerable communities, Rising privileges the voices of those too often kept at the margins.


Providing Answers about Air Pollution and other Prenatal Environmental Exposures

Tuesday, April 9th at 7 p.m. in Ostrove

Dr. Abby Fleisch
Pediatric endocrinologist, Maine Medical Center
Environmental health researcher, Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Maine
Medical Center Research Institute


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.

FALL 2018

Trespassing Across America

Tuesday, October 9th at 7 p.m. in Olin 1

Ken Ilgunas, Author



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.


Moving Our Most Vulnerable Communities From Surviving to Thriving

Tuesday, March 6th at 7 p.m. in Ostrove

Mustafa Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus and former EPA senior advisor.

FALL 2017

Democracy in a Hotter Time

Tuesday, September 19, 7:00 p.m., Olin 1

Dr. David Orr, Counselor to the President Oberlin College and Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies & Politics, Emeritus



The present crisis in U.S. democracy has its origins in our history and political system. Much the same can be said for our slow and inadequate response to climate change now underway. These and similar problems in public policy are the result of the breakdown in democratic institutions. The path forward requires repairing and strengthening the capacities of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.



Understanding Food Access in Low-Income Communities and Communities of Color

Thursday, March 16, 7:00 p.m., Olin 1

Dr. Dorceta Taylor, Professor, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Low income and minority communities are often characterized by lack of access to healthy and affordable foods. Large grocery stores are sometimes scarce while food outlets such as gas stations, corner stores, and pharmacies abound. Though terms like “food dessert” have been used to describe this phenomenon, this talk will examine the problematic nature of how researchers have defined and studied the food landscape. It explores the role of alternative food sources in providing access to healthy foods in urban areas.


FALL 2016

Synthetic Nature and the Future of Nature

Tuesday, September 27, 7:00 p.m., Olin 1

Dr. Kent Redford, Archipelago Consulting


KHR photo 344 KB

Synthetic biology is a broad and fast-moving field of innovation involving the design and construction of new biological parts, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems. It has many potential applications that may change human relations to the natural world including replacing natural products (e.g. vanilla, ambergris) with synthetic ones, reviving extinct species, and creating powerful tools to address wicked conservation problems. Despite this promise and the vast sums being spent on its development, synthetic biology is virtually unknown to the conservation community. We must engage promptly, honestly and with a broad discussion to see how conservation perspectives can help shape this major emerging field.

Kent H. Redford is the principal at Archipelago Consulting, established in 2011 and based in Portland, Maine. He was most recently Director of the WCS Institute and Vice President, Conservation Strategies at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York.


The Unsung Hero of America’s “best idea” – National Monuments and the Antiquities Act

Tuesday, March 29, 7:00 p.m., Olin 1

Sean Mahoney, Executive Vice President, Conservation Law Foundation, Maine Advocacy Center


Wallace Stegner called National Parks the “best idea [America] ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”   The National Park Service celebrates its centennial this year but it is a less well known law, the Antiquities Act, that has been the genesis of not only more than 25% of the National Parks but most of the lands set aside over the last three decades.   Signed into law in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Antiquities Act has been used by every President since then to permanently protect some of America’s most treasured and unique resources and their significant cultural, historic and scientific values.  The exercise of that executive authority has almost always been met with opposition from any number of interests at the time of the designation and that is as true today as it was in 1908 when the Grand Canyon was designated a National Monument.   In 2016, that same opposition can be found in Maine and New England, as proposals for a national monument in northern Maine and in the Gulf of Maine are considered by the Obama Administration.  As the dysfunction and polarization of Congress reaches new heights, congressional agreement on creating National Parks becomes more and more remote.  The Antiquities Act not only provides the best hope for permanently protecting America’s greatest national treasures for generations to come but for creating living laboratories for us to understand the impacts of climate disruption on those resources and how best we can adapt to those changes.

FALL 2015

Peter Forbes 1614Re-Imagining the Promise of Conservation: Obligations and Opportunities in the Next Generation

September 29, 7pm, Ostrove Auditorium

Peter Forbes, Center For Whole Communities


On the eve of the centennial of our national park system, what is the promise of conservation to an America that is rapidly changing demographically, culturally, and physically? What ideals and values need to guide conservation in the next 100 years? Author and conservationist, Peter Forbes, will guide us across a landscape of meaning about the motivations for creating our first national park and how those same instincts toward healing and repairing now guide innovation in conservation across the country, especially in Maine. By examining the sweeping technological and cultural forces changing our country, and looking at how our desire to connect to nature and to one another endures, Peter will offer insights into the special opportunities and obligations facing the next generation to re-imagine conservation from where our different lives intersect. How might we promise to make this powerful concept of Forebearance relevant, useful and durable for the next century? What are the principles of this promise? What might it look like?

Do you see yourself within it?


KrimskyAre GMOs Safe? : What the Science Tells Us

Tuesday, March 17, 7pm, Olin 1

Dr. Sheldon Krimsky, Tufts University

Description: Some prominent scientists and policymakers assert with confidence that there is no scientific controversy over the health effects of GMOs—these GM crops are inherently safe and do not have to be tested. The scientific evidence, however, reveals a different story. The talk reveals how politics and corporate interests have distorted an honest look at the health and environmental effects of GMO crops.

Fall 2014

Is Conservation Prepared for Climate Change?shaun
Tuesday, September 23, 7pm, Olin 1
Shaun Martin, Senior Director Climate Change Adaptation, World Wildlife Fund
Fall 2014 Hollis Lecturer in Environmental Studies

We all know that climate change has profound implications on wildlife, ecosystems and ecosystem services that people rely on for their well-being. But far too often we view climate change as a slow-moving problem that can wait until the future. How much time do we really have? What will happen if we wait too long? And are universities preparing students for a different kind of future where careers in conservation and natural resource management will require new ways of thinking and problem solving? Climate change is here. It’s not going away. And you need to be prepared.

Spring 2014

TNC Penobscot River 200910,000 Years of Natural Resources Stewardship: The Penobscot Nation
John Banks, Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Penobscot Indian Nation
John Banks is the Director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Indian Nation, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Maine. Mr. Banks has served the Penobscot Nation in this capacity since 1980, following the enactment of the Maine Indian Land Claims settlement Act of 1980. As Natural Resources Director, Mr. Banks has developed and administers a comprehensive Natural Resources management program for his tribe, which advances an integrated management approach, in recognition of the inter- connectedness of all things in the natural world.
Mr. Banks has served on many local, regional, and national organization boards including the National Tribal Environmental Council, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, National Indian Policy Center, and the Tribal Operations Committee with USEPA.
Mr. Banks has a BS degree in Forest Protection from the University of Maine, where he was awarded an Indian Fellowship from the office of Indian Education in Washington DC.

Fall 2013

Topic area- Sustainability in Higher Education
Dr. Nancy Tuchman, Director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability, Loyola University
Nancy Tuchman spent the first 14 years of her career as a Professor of Aquatic Ecology in the Department of Biology at Loyola University Chicago. In 2002-2003 she served as a Program Officer in the Ecosystem Studies Program at the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C., then returned to Loyola to serve as the Associate Provost for Research for five years (2004–08). In 2005 she founded and directed the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Policy (CUERP) at Loyola. From 2010 – 2013 she served as the University’s Vice Provost before being appointed Founding Director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES). Her vision for IES is to raise public awareness of the unsustainable consumption of our Earth’s natural resources with the goal of transforming behavior, developing policy, and inspiring and preparing next generation science-based environmental leaders. To that end, IES engages students, faculty, staff and administrators in activities designed to lower our campus consumption of energy and natural resources, and reduce our waste production. Under Tuchman’s direction, IES has developed several flagship programs including producing biodiesel which converts waste vegetable oil into fuel and uses it in our intercampus shuttle buses; using waste glycerin to produce soap which is being sold in our campus stores; and growing food organically at our 4-acre student run farm and on our urban campus gardens.

Spring 2013

“Ocean Apocalypse”
Dr. Jeremy Jackson, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
Jeremy Jackson is Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution and Professor of Oceanography Emeritus at the Scripps Institution jeremyof Oceanography. He studies human impacts on the oceans and the ecology and paleoecology of tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems. Dr. Jackson is author of more than 150 scientific publications and author or editor of eight books. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Jackson has received numerous prizes and awards including most recently the Darwin Medal of the International Society for Reef Studies, the Peterson Medal from Harvard University, the Paleontological Medal, the BBVA International Prize in Ecology and Conservation, and the Society for Conservation Biology LaRoe Award for Outstanding Contributions to Conservation Biology. Jackson’s work on historical overfishing and the collapse of coastal ecosystems was chosen by Discover magazine as the outstanding scientific achievement of 2001. Island Press just published his latest book, Shifting Baselines: The Past and Future of Ocean Fisheries, in 2011.

Fall 2012

“The Foundation Principles of Sustainability”
Dr. Thomas Wessels, Antioch College
Tom Wessels is an ecologist and founding director of the master’s degree program in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England.wesselstom He is the current chair of The Center for Whole Communities that fosters inclusive communities that are strongly rooted in place and where all people—regardless of income, race, or background—have access to and a healthy relationship with land. He is former chair of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation that fosters environmental leadership through graduate fellowships and organizational grants. He served as an ecological consultant to the Rain Forest Alliance’s SmartWood Green Certification Program. In that capacity Tom helped draft green certification assessment guidelines for forest operations in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Tom has conducted landscape level workshops throughout the United States for over 30 years. His books include: Reading the Forested Landscape, The Granite Landscape, Untamed Vermont, The Myth of Progress, and Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape.

Spring 2012

“Journey into Climate”
Dr. Paul Mayewski, Director of the Climate Change Institute

Dr. Paul Andrew Mayewski is director and professor of the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine. He is an internationally acclaimed scientist and explorer, leader of >50 expeditions to some of the remotest reaches of the planet (eg., Antarctica, Arctic, Himalayas, Andes). His scientific achievements appear in >300 publications plus a climate change book written for the public, “The Ice Chronicles – The quest to understand global climate change” and a new book, “The Journey – Adventure, the golden age of climate research and the unmasking of human innocence”. Examples of his honors include: the first-ever internationally awarded Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research, the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Medal, the Seligman Crystal from the International Glaciological Society, an honorary PhD from Stockholm University and a private audience in the Forbidden City (Beijing, China). He has developed several highly prominent national and international research programs; developed numerous outreach efforts (eg., with the American Museum of Natural History and the Boston Museum of Science), and appeared hundreds of times in public including NOVA, BBC, PBS, ABC and several segments with CBS “60 Minutes”.

Fall 2011

“The Future of Conservation”
Dr. Eric Dinerstein, Chief Scientist, World Wildlife Fund

Eric Dinerstein is WWF’s Chief Scientist and Vice President for Science. He is a co-author of the Global 200, an analysis to identify the most biologically important ecoregions on Earth. He also is a co-author of several books and many peer-reviewed papers on conservation biology topics. Eric wrote Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations, which won the 2007 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books. Most recently, he joined a team of conservationists working through the Global Tiger Initiative of the World Bank to help double the number of wild tigers by 2022.