skip navigation

Florida Gulf Coast University

Website Directory  

Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

 2016 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture


 Alison Hawthorne Deming


The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is pleased to announce that poet and essayist Alison Hawthorne Deming will be presenting the 2016 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. The 2016 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture will include a Campus Lecture at Florida Gulf Coast University and a Sanibel Island Lecture, both will explore themes from Deming’s latest book, Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit.  Her new book explores the mystery and wonder of our shared early experience with animals and illustrates how much animals have contributed to the development of the human psyche. 

 The Campus Lecture is entitled, Creating the Future: New Relationships between Art and Science in the Era of Climate Change. This Lecture will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at FGCU. The Lecture will be held in Sugden Hall, Room 114 at 5:00 pm. During the Campus Lecture, Deming, will give a talk illustrating new relationships between art and science that are emerging in response to the challenge of climate change. Joining the sensuality, discernment and formal experimentation of the arts with the empiricism, particularity and analysis of scientific writing is necessary to fully elucidate a rapidly changing world. Deming will demonstrate how, together, art and science can be sparks to the imagination and to hope.

The Sanibel Island lecture, entitled Zoologies: Climate Change and the Spiritual Force of Animals, will be held on Friday, February 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm at Saint Michael and All Angels Church. During the Sanibel Island Lecture, Deming will examine what animals meant to early humans and what they mean to the contemporary imagination. In Zoologies, Deming writes, “Animals surrounded our ancestors. Animals were their food, clothes, adversaries, companions, jokes, artistic inspiration and their gods.” Deming wants readers to know that today however, we have a very different relationship to animals than our ancestors did. She explains, “In this age of mass extinction and the industrialization of life, it is difficult to touch the skin of this long and deep companionship….” Deming’s Sanibel lecture will illuminate why we must understand this deep kinship with our fellow creatures and why this understanding may just be the inspiration we need to renew hope and faith as we rise to the challenge of climate change. Immediately following the Sanibel Island Lecture, the Center will host a reception and book signing in the Parish Hall at Saint Michael and All Angels Church.

In 2014, Alison Hawthorne Deming was appointed the Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. She is the author of Science and Other Poems, and winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets for The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence, Genius Loci and Rope. Her nonfiction books include Temporary Homelands, The Edges of the Civilized World, which was a finalist for the PEN Center West Award, and Writing the Sacred Into the Real.  Deming edited Poetry of the American West: A Columbia Anthology and co-edited with Lauret E. Savoy The Colors of Nature: Essays on Culture, Identity, and the Natural World. Deming is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, currently working on the essay collection Lament for the Makers. In 2016 Deming will also be releasing two new books of poetry, Stairway to Heaven and Death Valley: Painted Light with photographer Stephen Strom.

Rachel Carson’s work is the inspiration for the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. The Lecture has been named in her honor since the Center was established in 2004. Carson’s contributions, most relevant to the mission of the Center, are public policy based on sound science and ethics, active participation of an ecologically literate citizenry, and appreciation of the natural world through the literary arts and environmental education.







This year's Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, entitled Climate Change: Building a Better Future Through Conversation will take place on Monday, November 2, 2015 in the Cohen Center Ballroom. The Center invites students, University faculty, stakeholders, community members, and campus leaders for conversation in the Ballroom before the main event at 5:30pm. The main event will begin at 6:00 pm and end approximately at 8:00 pm.

The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue is an annual event sponsored by the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.  The signature series focuses on education for a sustainable future, including fostering student’s roles as stewards of their natural, cultural, and political environments.  The Dialogue is intended to spark student action and stimulate environmental discourse among FGCU and Southwest Florida communities. Faculty members are encouraged to invite students to attend as the event is organized by students, for students.  The event is, as always, open to the general public, including conservation organizations, citizen advocates, and the scientific community.

This year’s Dialogue will be focused on the sense of urgency that climate change presents us. The dialogue will be a World Café-style participatory dialogue, designed to facilitate open and critical discussion and collaboration. The World Café process gives all participants the opportunity to be directly involved in the Dialogue and is an effective method for bringing people together around important issues.  This method is a departure from the traditional lecture-style panel dialogues that the Center has hosted in the past. This year’s Dialogue will present students with the opportunity to join various important conversations facilitated by knowledgeable students, professors, alumni, and community partners. The purpose of setting up the Dialogue as a World Café is to draw on the collective knowledge and wisdom in the room and to encourage collaboration and action amongst participants.


 Welcome to the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

       The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education would like to welcome back all faculty, staff, and students from what we hope was a relaxing and enjoyable summer.  With the beginning of the new semester, the Center is back in full swing and Center staff members are ready to begin the new academic year.  This year the Center would like to welcome new student assistants Sarah Davenport and Uzair Iqbal and new community volunteer Bob Soter to the team. We would also like to welcome back Judy Rosenberg, Kevin Bedson, and Onye’ Ogene. Also, a special welcome back to Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran!


       New student assistant, Uzair Iqbal, is an Environmental Studies Major with a Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. He was born in Pakistan and moved to San Antonio, Texas 10 years ago. Three years ago, he transferred to Fort Myers to study at FGCU. After quickly getting involved in several student organizations he gained the experience to become the Director of Sustainability for Student Government. As a Student Assistant at the Center for Environmental Sustainability and Education he will be organizing and promoting the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue. He will also be providing technical and marketing support for the Center. Uzair hopes to one day lessen the environmental problems for Pakistan by increasing sustainability awareness.



New Student Assistant Sarah Davenport is a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast University majoring in Anthropology. She is also a Service Learning coordinator at the FGCU Food Forest and is passionate about permaculture as a sustainable form of living. Sarah’s roles at the Center include website maintenance and organizing the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue. While working at the Center, Sarah hopes to engage students in sustainability issues and encourage students to pursue sustainable lifestyles.



Returning student assistant Onye’ Ogene is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University, currently majoring in Environmental Studies with a minor in Environmental Education and Climate Change. Being raised in Miami, Florida has led to Onye’s extreme passion for the world’s oceans. She is highly interested in Marine Ecology and aspires to pursue a master’s degree in Marine Conservation and Policy. Onye has been working at the Center since the beginning of the 2015 spring semester, her role at the Center includes assisting with the SAGE (Student Associates for a Greener Environment) project, working on the website, and working on other Center projects. While working at the Center, Onye’ hopes to further the environmental education outreach at the university by raising awareness of the environmental changes the world is facing.


Center Staff Manager, Kevin Bedson, is a May 2015 graduate of FGCU and a South Florida Native. He has his bachelor's degree in Communication Ecology with a minor in Philosophy. Kevin has been working for the Center since August 2013. Kevin's role at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is to manage staff and press releases, which includes working with local newspapers. While working at the Center Kevin hopes to expand principles of sustainable living to students and the community.                                               




We will be looking to our student assistants to help us duplicate the success of previous years.  Last year, we were able to hold a number of successful events including our two signature events, The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue and Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture.

  The Center is already working hard in preparation for this year’s events. This year the Center will be hosting the Terry Tempest William Student Dialogue (TTWSD) on November 2, 2015 in the Cohen Center Ballroom. This year’s TTWSD will  focus on climate change and how students can get involved in climate action. There will be representatives from organizations on campus and in the community facilitating discussions in small groups. This event seeks to raise awareness and promote action on the issue. The Center has also started working on Student Associates for a Greener Environment (SAGE), which is a signature grant program of the Center that provides support to student sustainability projects under the direction of a faculty or staff mentor. Updates for SAGE can be found on the SAGE page, on the Center’s website. The Center will also be hosting the annual Rachael Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend. The   Rachel   Carson Distinguished Lecture is named in her honor to keep her legacy alive among rising generations. Carson’s contribution to human understanding of our environment is unparalleled. Rachel  Carson’s  contributions,  most  relevant to  the  mission  of  the  Center,  are  public  policy based  on  sound  science and  ethics,  active  participation  of  an  ecologically  literate  citizenry,  and appreciation    of the natural world through the literary arts and environmental education.
The Center is excited to continue sharing its vision for a more sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action, since its birth in 2004. In 11 years of excellence, the Center’s commitment to the FGCU and southwest Florida community has allowed the Center to share its vision with thousands of students, community members, and businesses on both local and international scales.

For more information please contact our Student Assistants at 239-590-7025 or the Executive Secretary at 239-590-7492



Academic Year in Review at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

Note from Brandon Hollingshead, Interim Director 2014-2015

Many thanks to the supporters, students, faculty, and staff that made Academic Year 2014-2015 a year of successful activity at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. This is a brief summary of our accomplishments this year on campus at Florida Gulf Coast University and in the wider world.

  • Student Associates for a Greener Environment: SAGE is a signature program of the Center that provides support to student sustainability projects under the direction of a faculty or staff mentor. This year the Center sponsored seven high-impact SAGE projects, ranging from sustainable butterfly gardens to permaculture to radical sustainable architecture.
  • Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue: The student staff at the Center organized and hosted this year's signature dialogue event on the topic of "Talking on Water: Transforming Education into Action" on October 27, 2014. This was an educational event created by students for students just before the successful Amendment 1 land and water conservation initiative the passed in early November 2014.
  • Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture: This year's lecture was delivered by David W. Orr and Peter Blaze Corcoran on "Education in Turbulent Times: Perspectives from Rachel Carson's Hawk Mountain and Wangari Maathai's Karura Forest. It was delivered on campus to a standing-room only crowd and on Sainbel Island to a full audience at St. Michael and All Angels Church. Our keynote listeners on Sanibel were Walter Mondale and Reverend Ellen Sloane and our keynote listeners on campus were Dean Robert Gregerson, Sarah Davis, Katie Leone, and Uzair Iqbal.
  • Ongoing record of scholarship: Peter Blaze Corcoran and Brandon Hollingshead published the book Intergenerational Learning and Transformative Leadership for Sustainable Futures(Wageningen Academic Publishers). The Center was represented at many international environmental education conferences, including the North American Association for Environmental Education, the United Nations World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, the International Environmental Communication Association's Conference on Communication and the Environment, and several meetings of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
  • Ongoing record of international collaboration: Peter Blaze Corcoran made several contributions to advancing environmental and sustainability education in higher education in Africa, including work with University of Nairobi and Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. Corcoran also advanced environmental education policy at the United Nations Environment Programme through work with the Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability. The Center continues to provide a secretariat role for an emerging International Intergenerational Network of academic centers on sustainability in higher education.
  • Faculty and Staff Development: The Center provided professional development and support to faculty and staff interested in applying Earth Charter ethics and sustainability education in the courses and work at Florida Gulf Coast University.
  • Rachel Carson Award: This year's award was give to two longtime FGCU educators, Dr. Maria Roca and Dr. Jim Wohlpart in honor of their many contributions to the center and to sustainability education at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Thank you again to our supporters and stakeholders at Florida Gulf Coast University, in the Western Everglades and Barrier Islands of Southwest Florida, and in the wider community of scholars. We look forward to Peter Blaze Corcoran's return to FGCU and the re-opening the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education in August 2015 at the start of Academic Year 2015-2016.