Fall Speaker Series to kick off with science writer Elizabeth Kolbert
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and science writer Elizabeth Kolbert will kick off The Media School’s fall Speaker Series with a virtual discussion sponsored by The Media School, Sustain IU, IU’s Integrated Program in the Environment, the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and the Environmental Resilience Institute. The talk also is part of the College of Arts and Sciences’ fall 2021 Themester, which has the theme of “Resilience.”
The event is at 7 p.m. Sept. 13. Viewers can participate via Zoom or attend a live screening in the Franklin Hall commons. The Media School’s assistant professor Suzannah Evans Comfort and Gabriel Filippelli, executive director of ERI and chancellor’s professor of earth sciences at IUPUI, will moderate.
“Ms. Kolbert’s keynote speech offers the entire Bloomington community a unique opportunity to listen to and reflect on her accumulated insights and wisdom about the environment and to learn how journalism can advance the salience of key issues facing our planet,” said Media School interim dean Walter Gantz.
Kolbert has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning book — “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” which covers mass extinctions, including intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field — began as an article in The New Yorker. Her newest book, “Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future,” published by Random House, was released in February.
“We are delighted that Elizabeth Kolbert will be joining us as a keynote speaker for this fall’s Themester on Resilience. Ms. Kolbert has established herself, through a remarkable opus of articles, books and commentaries, as the premier environmental journalist of our time,” said professor of geophysics Michael Hamburger, one of the event organizers. “Her works document the myriad ways that human activities are altering the balance of Earth’s physical and biological systems, and the creative and sometimes desperate ways that humans are working to respond to these environmental challenges.”
Themester is a program that combines academic courses, public lectures and exhibits, film showings and other events and is intended to engage students and the entire community in a collective learning experience about a timely, even urgent, issue, such as climate change.
“Kolbert’s genius is in her ability to show her audience how extensively and extraordinarily humans have reshaped planetary systems and how far we must (and are attempting to) go to adapt,” said O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs associate clinic professor Sarah Mincey, who serves as Themester committee chair, IPE director and ERI managing director. “The latter is the focus of so much of our environmental research and implementation work at IU – growing resilience in the face of change so that humans and nature not only survive, but thrive. We look forward to an engaging resilience-focused conversation with Ms. Kolbert.”
Kolbert’s series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” appeared in The New Yorker in spring 2005 and won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine award. In 2006, she received the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award in the newspaper/magazine category and was awarded a Lannan Writing Fellowship. In September 2010, Kolbert received the prestigious Heinz Award, which recognizes individuals who are addressing global change caused by the impact of human activities and natural processes on the environment. She also won a National Magazine Award in the Reviews and Criticism category for her work in The New Yorker, the Sierra Club’s David R. Brower Award and the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union. In 2016, she was named the 12th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University.
She is also the recipient of the 2016 Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism. In 2017, she received the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; in 2019, she was the recipient of the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square; and in March 2021, she was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Kolbert’s stories have also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue and Mother Jones, and have been anthologized in “The Best American Science and Nature Writing” and “The Best American Political Writing.” She edited the 2009 edition of “The Best American Science and Nature Writing.” A collection of her work, “The Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit,” was published in 2004.
Prior to joining the staff of The New Yorker, Kolbert was a political reporter for The New York Times.