Wednesday September 20, 2006

Courage to Change

Environmental movement's 'Norma Rae' opens a University of Dayton series on environmental issues.

A grassroots environmental activist who battled Gulf Coast corporate chemical polluters -- and won -- launches this year's Humanities Symposium and Philosophy Colloquium at the University of Dayton Oct. 11-14.

Keynote speakers on environmental philosophy and public policy, including one of the world's leading experts on regulatory policy, will examine environmental issues from a variety of perspectives.

All keynote lectures will be held in Sears Recital Hall in the Jesse Philips Humanities Center on campus and are free and open to the public. The schedule includes:

Diane Wilson, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11

"The Courage to Change"

Wilson, author of An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight For Seadrift, Texas, opens the 2006 Humanities Symposium. A shrimp-boat captain and mother of five, Wilson fought Formosa Plastics' proposed expansion of its PVC manufacturing plant in her hometown in Calhoun County, Texas, which led the nation in toxic emissions. Her determination and the help of a pro bono lawyer and a Greenpeace activist led to a "zero tolerance" agreement for Formosa Plastics and Dow/Union Carbide. Her story is the subject of a 2001 short documentary, "Diane Wilson, A Warrior's Tale," broadcast on s Lifetime Television special called "Our Heroes, Ourselves."

UD's 32nd Richard R. Baker Colloquium in Philosophy will follow Oct. 12-14 and examine the theme "Environmental Philosophy and the Duties of Citizenship." Keynote speakers are:

Diane Wilson, 2:30 to 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 12

"A Conversation with Diane Wilson" will take place in room 470/472 in the Jesse Philips Humanities Center.

Roger S. Gottlieb, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12

"The Spirit of Environmental Democracy"

Gottlieb is a professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and author of the forthcoming A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and our Planet's Future. He concentrates on the political, ethical and religious dimensions of the environmental crisis and the connections between religion and politics. His numerous works include This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment and A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth.

Carl F. Cranor, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13

"The Science Veil over Personal Injury Law"

One of the world's leading experts on regulatory policy and philosophical issues in science and law, Cranor is the author of Regulating Toxic Substances: A Philosophy of Science and the Law and Toxic Torts. Cranor, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, with funding from the National Science Foundation, has published groundbreaking research on the use of scientific evidence in toxic tort law.

Andrew Light, 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 14

"What Killed Environmentalism?"

Light, associate professor of philosophy and public affairs at the University of Washington, focuses on making environmental ethics more practical and applicable to environmental policy in order to solve environmental dilemmas. A prolific author and editor, he most recently published Environment and Values.

Additional presentations are scheduled throughout the colloquium on topics ranging from ecological citizenship to global warming and public policy. For the complete schedule, click here [].

Both the Humanities Symposium and Philosophy Colloquium complement UD's new curricular experiments in community-based environmental research. Such experiments include a pilot course, undergraduate research on environmental sustainability, being team-taught this year by Humanities Fellows Dan Fouke, philosophy professor, and Sukh Sidhu, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and senior research engineer in UDRI's environmental engineering group.

Students will conduct research that responds to needs expressed by groups in the community. For example, the city of Dayton's environmental manager has asked some students to research how Dayton can reduce CO2 emissions, and a representative of BW Greenway has requested research on alternative farming practices.

Faculty have also received a grant from SENCER - Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities - to implement a course for students in secondary education that focuses on understanding the Great Miami River's ecosystem and its social implications.

The philosophy colloquium is supported, in part, by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council.

Contact Linda McKinley at 937-229-2933 or email her at or John Heitmann, alumni chair in humanities, at 937-229-2803.