All Plenaries will be held in Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College
Bill McKibben will keynote this conference. No one in our society is doing more to make clear that our current ways of thought and life are leading us to catastrophe. His work evokes from Whiteheadians a double response. First, global climate change is a threat of extreme urgency to which immediate practical response is required. When a girl is about to drown, it is inappropriate, even criminal, to spend time reflecting about how she got into deep water or to examine our motivation for jumping in to save her. We need to act. This need can be recognized by people with a wide spectrum of views. Whiteheadians do not want their call for deep reflection and radical change in patterns of thought to inhibit such immediate responses. In this conference the first section focuses on responding to imminent threats of catastrophe.
On the other hand, the danger that the girl will drown does call for reflection as well. What were the circumstances that led to the girl being alone in deep water without adequate ability as a swimmer? To rescue the girl but leave unchanged the situation that is likely to lead other children to have the same problem would be a serious failure. Most of the conference deals with the changes that would draw humanity back from the brink of catastrophe, or failing that to rebuild on a different basis.
This lecture is free and open to the public.
Thursday: June 4, 2015
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist. His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement. The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities; Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.” A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern.
|McKibben’s keynote address on Thursday evening will be followed by plenaries on Friday and Saturday that will focus on the urgency of drastic change. The plenary speakers will be Sheri Liao and Vandana Shiva. These lectures are free and open to the public.|
Friday: June 5, 2015
Vandana Shiva is an Indian physicist who has long understood that science is being used in the service of unsustainable practices. She has helped thoughtful people everywhere to understand what “development” has done to women and to the poor. She is one of the leading world figures calling for redirecting our policies and practices.
Saturday, June 6, 2015:
Sheri Liao is perhaps the most important environmental activist in China. She is personally totally dedicated. Since the Szechuan earthquake, she has devoted herself to creating ecological villages in the devastated areas. She is working passionately against China’s move to depopulate the countryside and produce its food by industrial methods.
Conference Plenary Speakers
There will also be plenaries at the beginning of each of the three full days of the conference. Friday morning I will have the responsibility of making sense of the program and urging all to keep in mind its effort to respond to McKibben’s challenge at many levels. On Saturday and Sunday mornings we will present members of the Whiteheadian family who have already made major contributions to the alternative we hope to seize. Herman Daly will critique the dominant economics that has played so large a role in leading us toward catastrophe. He will speak on the ecological economics that he outlined decades ago and has been developing ever since. Wes Jackson will speak on ecological agriculture. Not only has he envisioned the need to change from monocultures of annuals to polycultures of perennials, he has also developed a perennial grain that shows the possibility of ending ten thousand years of degrading the Earth’s soil.
|Friday: June 5, 2015
9:00 AM – 10:30 AM
“A Whiteheadian response to the Global Crisis”
This conference is inspired by the thought and work of American theologian, philosopher, and environmentalist John B. Cobb, Jr. He is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology, and is the author of more than forty books. A unifying theme of Cobb’s work is his emphasis on ecological interdependence — the idea that every part of the ecosystem is reliant on all the other parts. Cobb has argued that humanity’s most urgent task is to preserve the world on which it lives and depends, an idea which his primary influence — philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead — describes as “world-Loyalty.”
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Herman E. Daly (1938-), an American economist recognized as one of the founders of the field of ecological economics and as a critic of standard economic growth theory. Daly’s worked centered on the relationship of the economy and the environment, and the relationship of the economy to ethics.
Daly’s books include Steady-State Economics (1977; 1991), Valuing the Earth (1993), Beyond Growth(1996), and Ecological Economics and the Ecology of Economics (1999). He is co-author with theologian John B. Cobb, Jr. of For the Common Good (1989; 1994), which received the Grawemeyer Award for ideas for improving World Order. He is a recipient of the Honorary Right Livelihood Award (Sweden’s alternative to the Nobel Prize), the Heineken Prize for Environmental Science from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Sophie Prize (Norway).
Sunday, June 7, 2015
Wes Jackson is one of the foremost figures in the international sustainable agriculture movement. Founder and president of The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, he has pioneered reserach in Natural Systems Agriculture — including perennial grains, perennial polycultures, and intercropping — for over 30 years. He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies program at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He is the author of several books including Becoming Native to This Place (1994), Altars of Unhewn Stone (1987), and New Roots for Agriculture (1980).
(Bixy Plaza, Pomona College)
The conference will conclude on Sunday evening with a celebratory banquet with some reflection on what has been learned. It will also include an address by David Griffin. At the 3rd IWC Griffin called on us to make the twenty-first century the Whiteheadian one. The 10th IWC is a bold effort to respond to his call. We want to hear his reflections on where we stand and what we are now called to be and do.