Xavier University is proud to have hosted a multitude of influential, innovative, and investigative thinkers.  Maude Barlow, Cynthia Barnett, Jeremy Rifkin, Sandra Steingraber, Amory Lovins, and John Fitzgerald stand out, among many other dedicated students and faculty.  To fully capture the essence of each of these speakers is a task that would require ardent research and analysis, but below are a few presentations that took place at Xavier to give a sampling of the kinds of conversations that occur on campus within the sustainability department and related student/faculty communities.

 

April 6, 2017

Internationally renowned author, geologist, science historian and Harvard professor, Naomi Oreskes is a leading voice on the issue of the role of humans in affecting climate change and is the author of both scholarly and popular books and articles. Naomi Oreskes is currently professor of the history of science and affiliated professor of Earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University.  She has lectured widely and won numerous prizes including the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year and the 2015 Geological Society of American Public Service Award.  She met Pope Francis at a special meeting on climate change and sustainability held at the Vatican and in 2015 wrote the introduction to the Melville House edition of the Papal Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality, Laudato Si’.

 

 

 

October 25, 2016

Climate Justice: The Role of Local Sustainability  On Sustainability Day 2016, a panel of local experts from government, business and the university discuss how local climate issues and initiatives intersect with larger climate trends and problems.  Moderated by Gabe Gottlieb, XU Professor, Ethics/Religion and Society, panelists include Larry Falkin, Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability; John Schulte, Executive Director, Xavier Physical Plant; Roxanne Qualls, Former Mayor of Cincinnati and Assistant to the Xavier Provost for Civic Affairs; Scott Burns, President, Global Asset Recovery programs, LLC and XU Adjunct Faculty; Carmelle Wasch, President of XU Student Sustainability.

 

November 16, 2015

Mark Anielski, economist and author, speaks at the Cintas Center about understanding economics in terms of genuine happiness.  He suggests a new model that accounts for true wellbeing and beneficial growth.  His lecture explains how our economic behavior has a direct effect on our quality of life and livelihoods.  Being a healthy and sustainable society relies on a deeper understanding of economics that considers all important elements.  Anielski further discusses economic systems and emerging nations, the Pope, and the Genuine Progress Indicator.  

September 14, 2015

This introduction to Benjamin Barber’s Sustainability Day speech features Xavier sustainability advocates Dr. Nancy Bertaux, Provost Scott Chadwick, Sustainability Intern Jon Brown, Dr. Kathleen Smythe, and Dr. Gabriel Gottlieb.  They provide an update on sustainability and the efforts that are being made at Xavier.  Their topics included sustainability news on campus and across America, recent campus action plans, department news, initiatives and intern projects, the newly renovated Alter Hall as a model of sustainability, and the threats we pose to our world with our consumptive way of life.    The entire video, including Barber’s speech, is available at the McDonald Library.

March 16, 2015

Maude Barlow,  chair of Food and Water Watch, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and board member of International Forum on Globalization presents the harsh reality our world faces as we experience water shortages. In her address at the Cintas Center, she tells of the crises that are happening around the world due to our misuse of this valuable resource, including its disappearance in California and the issues Lake Erie faces.  The lack of access to fresh water is increasingly becoming a problem that needs attention.  Drinking water is scarce and requires care and respect.  She brings light to the issues that are leading to these problems and suggests ways to change our threatening behavior.   

 

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October 20, 2014

Cynthia Barnett, renowned journalist, environmental activist, and water expert outlines some of the concerns, issues, and triumphs surrounding a global water crisis.  Her discourse provides the audience with an in-depth look at water scarcity around the globe and admonishes us to be more mindful in our water usage.  In addition, she advocates for a more comprehensive water ethos.  Her vision calls for action before it is too late.  (Video is in a 6 part playlist.)

March 10, 2014

Jeremy Rifkin’s seminar at the Cintas depicts the sense of urgency with which we must accost both the “sunset” of the 2nd industrial revolution and the subsequent degradation of the environment.  Rifkin focuses largely on lateral integration, the collaborative commons (a system for sharing everything free of charge), energy at zero marginal cost, and examples of multitudinous revolutions occurring across the globe.  He continues by highlighting the three aspects of economic and energetic revolution: communication, transportation, and a source of power.  Although we are a long way from a comprehensive zero marginal cost society, Rifkin chooses to view the impending energy/economic crisis as a tremendous opportunity for communication, collaboration, and cooperation, precipitated by the development of the internet.

October 16, 2013

Dr. Amory Lovins opens with a lengthy elucidation of transportation reform, as well as the salutary effects of undertaking such an arduous reformation of policy and manufacturing.  His proposal for smarter car manufacturing completely removes our dependence on foreign oil, reduces costs of production and environmental costs, and reduces traffic.  The sum total saving of all of his changes (hidden and unhidden) would sum $12 trillion.  Lovins surmises that both oil and electricity use will fall as technology allows for drastically increased efficiency.  His prophecies are exemplified by his own practice of integrative design and retrofitting.  Lovins also debunks myths regarding the so-called inefficiency associated with using renewable energies, pointing out myriad inefficiencies rampant in the current system. 

December 10, 2013

Joan Fitzgerald’s delivery focalizes on urban planning and realized sustainable city policy.  Although she acknowledges that discussion regarding issues of sustainability is a touchstone of American governmental discourse, she highlights our lack of action based on said discussions.  Citing examples of experimental communities and various other countries, Fitzgerald convinces us that through good policy and comprehensive urban planning, we can fabricate idyllic cities through government and social incentive.  In fact, the leaders and innovators in solar and wind power are not in the places with the most energy available, but where incentives, research, and emphasis on new energy technology.  In essence, Joan Fitzgerald urges us to “just do it.”

Founder of Recology in San Francisco, Robert Besso spearheads the effort to manage and utilize waste in new and innovative ways.   He recounts the history of recycling, starting with the implicit assumption that recyclables would be reused in the early 1900s, then the downturn of recycling up until the 1970s, with the advent of the environmental movement.  In San Francisco, the government has incentivized responsible waste management by cajoling the public via policy to pay for the trash they produce that ends up in landfills.  Such simple measures encourage composting and recycling, resulting in increased sustainability.  Besso points out that waste diversion (i.e. recycling, composting) decreases CO2 burden on the atmosphere, and decrease the carbon debt by enriching and enlivening the soil, and consequently, surrounding plants.  Subsequently, Besso describes the specific aspects of his company that effectively reduce and remove waste.

William McDonough, professor at Stanford, environmental pioneer (cradle to cradle business structure), and erudite leader in the environmental movement discusses the importance of sustainable business practices, our current pitfalls, and opportunities for greater success.  McDonough emphasizes the importance of new business models being “more good” and not “less bad.”  He also proceeds to highlight the ideological alteration necessary for enacting real change – supporting nature instead of attempting to domineer it (i.e. nature is NOT capital.  Nature is nature).  In addition, McDonough elucidates the energy crisis, depicting it as an issue of allocation and not of availability.  He spends a good amount of time etymologically deconstructing “sustainable” language, and rewriting the proverbial book on how we interpret sustainability.  McDonough advocates using the laws of nature to aggregate revenue in terms of human capital.