2014 Sustainability Lecture

Fulfills the spring 2014 Signature Course University Lecture Series requirement
Doors open at 4:30 for refreshments | Free and open to the public
President Clinton's Civil Rights Summit Address Livestreamed at 7:00 PM

Map and Directions to KLRU
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If a transition away from fossil fuels is the key to a sustainable future, shouldn’t institutions of higher education be leading the way? If divestment from fossil fuels is an impractical and ineffective means of accomplishing social and environmental change, should our energies be focused elsewhere?  Regardless, isn’t it the role of colleges and universities to encourage critical thinking on the topic?

A national movement, spearheaded by organizations such as 350.org, the Responsible Endowments Coalition, and the Sustainable Endowments Institute, is encouraging students to ask their institutions to think critically about and change the way they invest.   Join us for a discussion with Mr. Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and UT Austin's Dr. David Spence, Professor of Law, Politics and Regulation, about responsible, values-driven investment and business practices.  The discussion will focus on the recent movement aimed at higher education to divest their endowment funds from fossil fuels. 

Jim Walker, UT Austin Director of Sustainability, will moderate the conversation. The lecture will be held and taped in KLRU Studio 6A, the Moody College of Communication, CMB.

Stay afterward for pizza and a live-stream viewing party of President Bill Clinton's Civil Rights Summit Address!

This year’s University Lecture Series on Sustainability is co-sponsored by the School of Undergraduate Studies, the Difficult Dialogues program of the Humanities Institute through the Sterling Clark Holloway Centennial Lectureship, and the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability.


About our 2014 Presenters

Mr. Bill McKibbenMr. Bill McKibben
Schumann Distinguished Scholar
Founder, 350.org
Middlebury College
Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him 'the planet's best green journalist' and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was 'probably the country's most important environmentalist.'

Bill is a contributor to various magazines including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside. Bill has been awarded Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, and won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction. In his most recent book, Oil and Honey, McKibben recounts the personal and global story of the climate change fight. With empathy and passion he makes the case for a renewed commitment on both levels, telling the story of raising one year’s honey crop and building a social movement that’s still cresting.


David SpenceDr. David Spence
Professor, Law, Politics, & Regulation
Co-Director, Energy Management & Innovation Center
McCombs School of Business and School of Law
The University of Texas at Austin

David Spence is a Professor of Law, Politics & Regulation teaching courses on business-government relations, the regulation of business, stakeholder relations, energy regulation and environmental regulation. Before coming to academia, he was a practicing attorney representing public utilities, energy companies and others in connection with a wide variety of environmental and energy regulatory matters.

Professor Spence was the recipient of the 2011-2012 Fawn and Vijay Mahajan Teaching Excellence Award for Executive Education. He has also been the recipient of the McCombs School MBA Teaching Honor Roll in 2002, 2003 and 2008.



Past Lectures

2012 Lecture -- Sustainability: What does it mean? What does it matter?
Our first lecture featured Dr. James Pennebaker (Psychology) and Dr. James Daly (Communications Studies) who discussed (as skeptics) the language and meaning of sustainability. Here’s the link to a short teaser about the lecture which we produced afterward.

2013 Lecture – Sustainability: 7 billion and counting. Why do my actions matter?
Our second lecture featured Dr. Sahotra Sarkar (Philosophy, UT Austin) and Dr. John Callicott (Philosophy, University of North Texas) who discussed the complexity of developing and practicing environmental ethics – exploring the role of the individual to think critically about their role in creating our common future. Here’s the webpage dedicated to the event.


Resources for Faculty and Students

We encourage you to discuss this topic both in and outside of the classroom.  Below are readings suggested by the Office of Sustainability and our presenters.

Cornell Chronicle (2013, December 18).  Faculty Senate Urges Fossil Fuel Divestment. 
Retrieved from: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/12/faculty-senate-urges-fossil-...

Domonell, K. (2013, June). Is Fossil Fuel Divestment a Wise Move? University Business: Solutions for Higher Education Management. 
Retrieved from: http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/divestment-debate

Epstein, A. (2013, August 8). Universities Must Reject Environmentalist Calls to Divest From The Fossil Fuel Industry.  Forbes Magazine. 
Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexepstein/2013/08/28/universities-must-reject-environmentalist-calls-to-divest-from-the-fossil-fuel-industry/

Klein, N. (2013, May 20). Time for Big Green to Go Fossil Free.  The Nation. 
Retrieved from: http://www.thenation.com/article/174143/time-big-green-go-fossil-free#

McGinn, M. (2013, October).  Next Steps on Fossil Fuel Divestment.  Mayor Mike McGinn’s Blog, Seattle, WA. 
Retrieved from: mayormcginn.seattle.gov/next-steps-on-fossil-fuel-divestment/

McKibben, B. (2013, February 22).  The Case for Fossil-Fuel Divestment.  Rolling Stone Magazine. 
Retrieved from: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-case-for-fossil-fuel-divestment-20130222

McKibben, B. (2012, July 19).  Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.  Rolling Stone Magazine. 
Retrieved from: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

Mufson, S. (2013, November 25). On campuses, a fossil-fuel divestment movement. The Washington Post. 
Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/on-campuses-a-fossil-fuel-divestment-movement/2013/11/25/45a545e6-52fc-11e3-a7f0-b790929232e1_story.html

Powell, J.L. (2014, January 28).  Harvard and Brown Fail on Climate. The Nation. 
Retrieved from: http://www.thenation.com/article/178138/harvard-and-brown-fail-climate#

Second Nature (2013, December).  Climate Change: Investment Risks and Opportunities for Higher Education. 
Retrieved from: http://www.secondnature.org/sites/default/files/resources/RiskPaper-12.6_0.pdf

Second Nature (2012, June).  Higher Education: Leading the Nation to a Safe and Secure Energy Future. 
Retrieved from: http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/files/documents/leading-the nation-policy-brief.pdf