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Global Environmental Challenges the Focus of 2017 Great Decisions Series

Series of five speakers coming to The College of Wooster from Feb. 2-March 30

18 January, 2017 by Hugh Howard

WOOSTER, Ohio – Five speakers will offer varying presentations on “Environmental Challenges to the Global Community,” the topic of this year’s Great Decision series, hosted by The College of Wooster. All five will take place on a series of Thursday evenings during the spring semester at Gault Recital Hall inside Scheide Music Center (525 E. University St.).

The annual series starts Feb. 2, when Robert Musil, president and CEO of the Rachel Carson Council (RCC), presents “Another Silent Spring? The Continuing Relevance of Rachel Carson’s Ecological Vision” at 7:30 p.m. Carson was a scientist and writer who gained fame during the mid-20th century for her alarm on the impact of pesticides, and the organization that bears her name continues to “promote her  ecological ethic that combines scientific concern for the environment and human health with a sense of wonder and reverence for all forms of life in order to build a more sustainable, just, and peaceful future.” In addition to running the RCC, Musil is a senior fellow and adjunct professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University and formerly was the CEO of the Physicians for Social Responsibility from 1992-2006.

On Feb. 9, there will be a screening of “The Age of Consequences,” a 2016 film that investigates climate change’s impacts on resource scarcity, migration, and conflict, at 7 p.m., followed on Friday, Feb. 10, with a luncheon lecture “Solutions to Climate Change in the Age of Consequences” by the writer, director, and producer Jared Scott. That will be held at Kittredge Dining Hall (535 E. Wayne Ave.) from 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Scott is a critically-acclaimed filmmaker and founding partner at PF Pictures. He has produced a number of films that address current social and political issues, and spoken at two United Nations climate change conferences.

The third lecture, scheduled on Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., features Jeff Hoffman, the co-founder of Priceline.com, who will make the case of “Innovation for Global Problems – How Entrepreneurs Can Save the World.” An innovator in the fields of e-commerce and entertainment, Hoffman has been the founder/CEO of multiple startups and is currently the principal of ColorJar/SCALE, an entity that provides strategy consulting, workshops, and coaching to entrepreneurs around the world. He serves as an advisor to various boards and supports a number of government entities when it comes to economic growth initiatives and entrepreneurship.

Next, academic, activist, and author Raj Patel will analyze “How Will We Feed 10 Billion People Sustainably?” on March 2, at 7:30 p.m. A research professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin, Patel’s work focuses on improving the world’s food system. Early in his career, he worked for the World Bank and World Trade Organization and has since become an outspoken critic against those organizations. Patel’s most notable book, “The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy,” landed on the New York Times best-seller list, and also of note, he has testified about the causes of global food crisis in front of the U.S. Congress.

This year’s series closes with a visit from Spencer Abraham, the U.S. Secretary of Energy (2001-05) under President George W. Bush, on March 30, at 7:30 p.m. He will present “Lights Out! Ten Myths About (and Real Solutions to) America’s Energy Crisis,” debunking certain ideas that warp our current energy debate and offering others to combat the problems we face in this country. Prior to becoming the Secretary, Abraham was a U.S. Senator (1995-01), representing the state of Michigan, and today he is a non-executive chairman of the board at AREVA, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of a French company that specializes in nuclear power and renewable energy, and runs his own consulting firm, The Abraham Group.

Great Decisions is a renowned lecture series, established in 1981 as a joint venture between the College and the local Wooster community, that examines international affairs and foreign policy by bringing in experts from a variety of backgrounds.