In college classes at Augsburg and across the country ,there is rarely dialogue between students and the authors of the texts that are used.
Sometimes it is because a textbook is written by a fairly anonymous author or group of authors. Other times, the back-and-forth simply isn’t possible. After all, it isn’t like having Shakespeare visit a classroom is an option.
That is what makes Bill McKibben’s visit to Augsburg so interesting. McKibben, an environmentalist and author, will speak Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Foss Chapel for the Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium.
McKibben, who writes about global warming, alternative energy, and other environmental issues, will talk about “The Most Important Number on Earth: Climate Change and Moral Challenge.”
McKibben is also one of the people behind the website 350.org, a group with the goal of cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. 350.org is also behind the upcoming International Day of Climate Change on Oct. 24.
The works of McKibben are currently being used in a number of classrooms this fall, including the Fate of the Earth Integrated Term for first-year students.
Why is McKibben important? Here are the words of some faculty members who are using or have used his books in their classes.
Nancy Fischer – Sociology
“When Lars Christiansen and I taught the study abroad course SOC295: Sustainable Cities in North America we used Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy as our text. We chose the book because McKibben makes it clear that promoting a healthy environment goes far beyond conserving green space or individual efforts to recycle or use the proper light bulbs. It’s about thinking about and acting on behalf of one’s local community—supporting the local businesses and farmers who are our neighbors. He makes a clear point in Deep Economy that Americans don’t need more consumer goods to satisfy their deepest needs—they need social ties with other people in their community. Helping the environment (through lessening one’s carbon footprint or reducing waste) is very much about helping people. That’s why I’ve chosen to use the book again for SOC111 Human Community and the Modern Metropolis. I’m hoping that along with Sustainability Awareness Month and Bill McKibben’s talk, it will be a great way to start my first-year students off thinking in terms of community.”
Michael Lansing – History
“Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy offers readers interested in the current state of economies, ecologies, and community a brilliant take on the intertwined futures of each. Timely, accessible, and accurate, the book suggests that our society’s basic assumptions about economic growth and consumption—that growth is good and more is better—ironically creates despair in otherwise abundant lives. Over consumption and the fetishization of growth also lead to environmental degradation that undermines both over the long-term. Calling for a new, more durable future for humanity rooted in local as well as global interactions, McKibben draws on existing alternatives to show how global warming, industrial food systems, and energy crises might be battled even as we reclaim everyday happiness. Deep Economy’s real strength lies in connecting these seemingly disparate subjects, showing how the future of one determines the future of them all. It is essential reading.”
John Harkness – English
“During my first year as a professor, my colleague and mentor mentioned an author that had just completed a riveting series of pieces in The New Yorker and turned them into a book called The End of Nature. Its main message—that we have so deeply affected the very climate of the planet that the meaning of ‘nature’ itself is now forever changed—struck me like a ton of coal. I have used this seminal work, one that established Bill McKibben as the author most responsible for first bringing the issue of global warming to the public’s attention, and many of his other excellent books in a range of classes. A few years later, I heard him speak and found that he was as engaging, personable, profound and insightful a speaker as he is a writer. McKibben’s recent book, Deep Economy, points out that in the face of diminishing resources and a threatened planet, our economy of high consumption is not only unsustainable, but it is also failing making to bring us joy. In other words we have everything to lose and not much to gain by continuing business as usual. To quote Wendell Berry, the author McKibben dedicates his book to: ‘We thought we were getting something for nothing, but we were getting nothing for everything.'”
Christensen Symposium Teach-in
Students behind Sustainability Awareness Month (SAM) events have organized a series of teach-in events for the College community:
11 a.m.-12 p.m. Students from the Integrated Term, “Fate of the Earth 101,” will lead discussions of chapters 4 and 5 of McKibben’s Deep Economy. Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center
1:20- 2:20 p.m. The Pedalers for Progress will make their first presentation to the College community about their bike trip from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon and the many opportunities this trip provided for them to learn from local transportation policy-makers, advocates, and organizers. Minneapolis Room, Christensen Center
2:30- 3:30 p.m. Students who participated in the New Zealand study abroad program will share what they learned about environmental politics in New Zealand. Minneapolis Room, Christensen Center
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. SAM students will hold a Pledge and Forum in the Quad
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Christensen Symposium Lecture by Bill McKibben. Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center