2011-2012 Convocation: The Changing Planet: Our Role in Nature's Economy

Digital archives of convocation speakers are available through the Olin Library.

About the 2011-2012 Theme

The title of this year’s convocation theme year series is The Changing Planet: Our Role in Nature's Economy.  It is a theme that hopes to define the connections between people and the environment, and identify ways that business, science, government, and non-government organizations can work with nature in mind to build a cleaner, more productive future. Who will define environmental health?  Where are the facts to help us decide the real costs and benefits of our choices for energy, industry, and agriculture? How is the study of the global environment related to other academic disciplines?  These are some of the big questions to be addressed during the theme year.

Speakers will be chosen to represent all scales of interaction with our environment, from the individual who grows local foods, to volunteers in social justice.  The goal will be to demonstrate the importance of research and public involvement related to this topic, and how it fits into society’s vision of the future.

The list of speakers for the upcoming convocation schedule has connections to business, architecture, science, religion, education, and social justice among other topics.  Some are international superstars like Annie Leonard, Fabien Cousteau, and Kevin Danaher, while others will present from a much more personal and local perspective.  Students and faculty will be invited to meet with each speaker in small groups to create additional opportunities for interaction.

I am excited with the lineup of speakers we’ve created, and think that we have the potential to create a buzz on campus, while also generating a shared experience for the Springfield community as well.

~ Sean Terry, Theme Year Director

Dr. Sean Terry

Dr. Sean Terry
Orientation Convocation

August 21, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it…or is it? Join Theme Year Director Sean Terry as he introduces this year's convocation series. Dr. Terry began teaching at Drury in 1998, and he's led students in hands-on learning experiences from studying (and sampling!) food of the world to on-the-beach field research in Hawaii.

This theme year brings together scholars from science, philosophy, public policy, and the arts – all to explore some big questions: How do individuals balance conservation and consumption? Can corporations and crustaceans survive and thrive in the same environment? Does this climate change business mean big changes for day-to-day business?

President Todd Parnell

President Todd Parnell
Connections - From Here to Khatguria

August 25, 2011

The annual matriculation convocation is the formal start to the new academic year. President Todd Parnell will speak about his winter 2010 trip to Hem Sheela, Drury’s sister school in India, founded by Drs. Protima and Rabindra Roy. He will share how the Roys’ Tribal School in Khatguria is building a better future for local children and creating a model of engaged learning for the Drury community.

Chaplain Peter Browning, Dean of Students Tijuana Julian, Professor Mark Wood, and Vice President of Alumni & Development Krystal McCulloch will join him in what has become a dynamic, thought provoking—and often humorous—start to the convocation series.

Fabien Cousteau

Fabien Cousteau
Our Water, Our Planet, Our Health

September 8, 2011

Growing up on the salt-stained decks of his famous grandfather’s ships, Calypso and Alcyone, Fabien Cousteau was destined to follow in the family footsteps of exploring and tirelessly working to protect our planet’s immense and endangered marine habitats.

Diving since age four, Cousteau was irrevocably imprinted with an unwavering appreciation for the wonder, beauty, and importance of our aquatic ecosystems to sustaining life on this big blue planet of ours.

From his vast experience in the field, coupled with a degree in environmental economics from Boston University, he has refined a public policy platform grounded by his strong belief that environmental discipline can be the basis for innovative solutions that strike a balance between regional and global environmental problems and the realities of market economies.

A perfect example of this juxtaposition of “restrained enthusiasm” can be found in much of the so-called eco-tourism industry. Great White sharks in South Africa are now revered and appreciated largely due to the fact that the indigenous population has found greater economic interest in preserving these magnificent fish rather than slaughtering them for diminishing returns.

Not until more (if not all) of humanity becomes enlightened to the undeniable fact that our health and well-being as a species is directly linked to our stewardship of the marine ecosystems that cover 73% of our planet, we will continue to over consume, pollute, and destroy the natural systems we depend upon for sustainable life.

It is with this thought that Cousteau set out to show what could be done in the business world. He successfully spearheaded new product development and business models for environmental sustainability. Having proven his skills in business, he returned to the deep-rooted family passion for exploration. He joined his father, Jean-Michel, and Deep Ocean Odyssey, as the third generation to carry on the tradition of adventure and exploration in the deep ocean; originally pioneered by his grandfather more than half a century ago.

Recently he co-launched Natural Entertainment, which is working on numerous projects related to exploration and environmental awareness through television and other media.

In 2006, Cousteau once again partnered with his father, Jean Michel Cousteau, and sister Celine to complete a three year multi hour series for PBS called Ocean Adventures. Topics explored ranged from the Grey whale migration of the west coast of the Americas to the magical coral spawning of the Caribbean to diving with squadrons of goliath groupers to the ghost ships of the Great Lakes. Additional hours cover exotic places such as the Amazon, Samoa, Christmas Island, Papua New Guinea, the Arctic and many other wonders of nature. The most recent expeditions covering the topics of Belugas, Orcas and man started airing on PBS in April of 2009.

Cousteau keeps his personal life similarly involved in projects like his new initiative to actively involve the public in undersea restoration initiatives coupled with government protection of the restored areas. Deeply concerned about the well-being of future generations, he is on the board of the New York Harbor School where he volunteers his time to empower youth about the water world. Being part of the Water Innovation Alliance, Cousteau brings attention about water issues to business executives in order for them to make better, more informed decisions. He also partners with outside initiatives such as Save Bimini in an effort to impassion people into changing the tide of current events that threaten to blindly destroy the environmental wealth of our future generations. His most recent, and perhaps most ambitious, endeavor is creating a new foundation committed to educating the public on the alarming need to restore our marine habitats. The Plant-a-Fish Initiative will spearhead public education programs as well as guiding large environmentally sensitive corporations with a genuine commitment to making the world a healthier place for mankind.

An active writer, he is currently working on a children’s book trilogy. Cousteau has been seen on network television, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and as a regular guest/contributor to NBC’s Today Show.

Additionally, he is a sought after speaker at a variety of foreign and domestic environmental and water conferences.

Cousteau shares his time between France and the United States (New York City) and when not conducting fieldwork he is riding the planet on a wind surfer, mountain bike or piloting a plane. His passion for vintage motorcycles sometimes takes him to the quiet of his garage where his cell phone does not work and he can dive into the zen of breathing life into these “basket cases.”

Leith Sharp

Leith Sharp
Who Are the Change Makers?

September 15, 2011

Leith Sharp is an international consultant and speaker on sustainability in higher education. She established the Harvard Green Campus Initiative in March of 2000, which became the largest green campus organization in the world, taking Harvard to the forefront as a global leader in campus sustainability. This venture was sustainable financially as well, producing large savings that funded most of the program.

She holds an M.A. in human development and psychology from Harvard University and a B.S. in environmental engineering from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney.

Phil Page

Phil Page
Connecting People to the Planet for Prosperity

September 22, 2011

Founders’ Day celebrates the tradition of giving back to Drury and honors those who give time, talent and resources to support the university. Alumnus Phil Page will present a real-world view of environmental work and share how Drury students of various majors could be involved in current EPA projects.

He is an attorney with the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the team leader of the EPA Brownfields Program in Washington, D.C. His team helps to develop policies and programs that provide environmental protection and sustainable redevelopment of contaminated sites.

Annie Leonard

Annie Leonard
The Story of Stuff

October 6, 2011

How much is too much? Annie Leonard seeks to answer that question in the popular animated web series The Story of Stuff, which explores the impacts of consumption. She has traveled to 40 countries, visiting hundreds of factories where our stuff is made and dumps where our stuff is dumped. Annie is fiercely dedicated to reclaiming and transforming our industrial and economic systems so they serve, rather than undermine, ecological sustainability and social equity.

She did her undergraduate studies at Barnard College, Columbia University and graduate work in City and Regional Planning at Cornell. The book The Story of Stuff was published in 2010.

Kevin Danaher

Kevin Danaher
The Green Economy is the Future Economy

October 27, 2011

Terrorism, trade and trees might have more in common than you think. Speaker, advocate and author Dr. Kevin Danaher conducts workshops on issues ranging from green economics to globalization. The New York Times called him the "Paul Revere of globalization's woes.” He is co-founder of Global Exchange, a social justice organization based in San Francisco, California.

Dr. Danaher received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and he is also the author numerous books, including his latest, Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots.

Tevyn East

Tevyn East
Leaps and Bounds

November 3, 2011

This one-woman show explores the intersection of faith, ecology and the global economy. Tevyn East uses storytelling, song, poetry, prayer, movement, and music to shed light on the driving factors of our ecological crisis while awakening the imagination to a new way of relating to Earth. Leaps and Bounds embodies an adventure, searching for the values that would support an economic system of human well-being and ecological health.

Tevyn has a degree in dance from Hollins University and is founder of The Affording Hope Project.

Glen Croston

Glen Croston
Starting up Green

November 10, 2011

Think it’s not easy being green? Ask Glenn Croston, noted expert on green business strategy. The author of the books 75 Green Businesses and Starting Green, Glenn is driven to share how people from every background can do the right thing for themselves and for our planet by building a successful and profitable green business. As the founder of Starting Up Green, Glenn Croston is helping the next generation of green entrepreneurs, from cleantech inventors to stay-at-home moms, to join the sustainable business revolution.


Jerome Ringo

Jerome Ringo
The Green Economy: America's New Frontier

February 16, 2012

Conservationist Jerome Ringo is an outspoken supporter of increasing diversity in the conservation movement. After working for more than 20 years in Louisiana’s petrochemical industry, observing the negative impact of pollution on primarily poor and minority local communities, Jerome began organizing environmental justice groups, and he committed his life to increasing minority participation in the environmental movement. In 2005, he became chairman of the board of the National Wildlife Federation, the first African American to head a major conservation organization.


Dickson Despommier

Dickson Despommier
Urban Agriculture: Securing a Sustainable, Safe Food Supply

February 23, 2012

Population and poverty. Farming and food. Dr. Dickson Despommier wrote the book on addressing these issues. He spent 38 years as a professor of microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia, where he won the Best Teacher award six times. He has addressed audiences at leading universities including Harvard and MIT, and he has also been invited to speak at the United Nations. His book The Vertical Farm: feeding the world in the 21st Century explores growing population and shrinking farmland.


Bill Braham

Bill Braham
Household Power: How Much is Enough?

March 1, 2012

A building is only as energy efficient as those who live or work within it. Dr. William Braham studies how the places where we live affect the planet where we live. Bill teaches graduate courses on ecology, technology, and design at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is director of the Master of Environmental Building Design.
He received an engineering degree from Princeton University and an M. Arch and Ph.D. Arch. from Penn, where he has taught since 1988. He is currently working on a book called Ecology, Technology, and Design.


Eric Dannenmaier

Eric Dannenmaier
A View from the Center of the Universe: Reconciling Individual Rights with Universal Values in Conserving Nature's Economy

March 8, 2012

The topic sounds overwhelming, but it’s really just about one idea:  We are all the center of our own universe and yet we need to work together to secure a sustainable future.  The talk is meant to address the tension between individual rights (having things “our own way”) and the public interest (advancing values that serve the broader community). 

The United States has moved from an early period where “unite or die” was a founding principle, through a civil war that tested our resolve to remain united, through two world wars where we sacrificed to protect our common enterprise and – more recently – to the “me generation” and today’s calls to “win freedom” and “fully embrace” the “moral truth” that we can all do exactly as we please.  The individual is celebrated.  We file “ireports;” we “tweet” about what we had for breakfast; and we invite virtual “facebook friends” to look through the window of our home pages where we “share” what we “like,” “digg” or otherwise “pref.”  At the same time, the public cause is pilloried.  Science demonstrating that human activity can harm the environment is called mythology, and efforts to construct rules to minimize that harm are called “alarmist” moves by social “stormtroopers.”   Government is no longer seen (at least by some) as the public’s servant, but instead portrayed (again, by some) as a public enemy. 

Under these circumstances, how do we cooperate as a species to make rules that will help us survive as a species?  That has become the central dilemma of environmental law and policy – and it is the central topic of Professor Eric Dannenmaier’s Convocation talk.

Since Professor Dannenmaier was awarded his degree from Drury in Biology and Political Science (with an emphasis in environmental studies) he has received graduate degrees in law from Oxford, Columbia, and Boston Universities.  He practiced law in Boston and Washington, DC; directed the Environmental Law Program of the US Agency for International Development; and directed the Institute for Environmental Law and Policy at Tulane University in New Orleans.  He has worked with governments, international agencies, and citizen’s groups in over 25 countries on the reform of environmental and natural resources law.  His projects have included mining reform in Panama, environmental security in Nepal and Uganda, environmental democracy in Russia and Cuba, water rights in Eritrea, and coastal development in the Dominican Republic.  He has taught courses and seminars in sustainable development in cities including Bangkok, Cairo, Geneva, and Santiago de Chile, and he has facilitated multilateral negotiations on environmental issues in Europe, South America, and the Caribbean.  He has now “settled down” back in the Midwest as a Professor of Law and Director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.  He teaches and writes about environmental rights, deliberative democracy, and natural resource conservation in national and international contexts.