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Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

 Haffenreffer Challenge Matches Donations To The Center


Once again, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education’s fundraising efforts will be aided by Sanibel residents and long-time Center supporters Mallory and Peter Haffenreffer, who have graciously renewed their annual Haffenreffer Challenge, which matches gifts to the Center up to a total of $7,000. As a non-profit, the Center, which is affiliated Florida Gulf Coast University, relies on donors to help support its programs. The Center invites you to help it reach its fundraising goal for 2016. The Haffenreffer’s philanthropic endeavor in addition to your support will help the Center to continue its important work.

Contributions to the Center help support its signature educational events, including its annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. This year’s Lecture, which recently took place at Sanibel’s Saint Michael and All Angels Church, featured award winning poet and essayist Alison Hawthorne Deming, who captivated an audience of over two hundred, which filled the church. The Center has hosted many successful and engaging Lectures on the island since the inaugural Lecture, which took place on Sanibel in 2004. The Rachel Carson Distinguished Lectures are always free and open to the public.

Contributions also support a wide range of Center activities including scholarly publications in environmental education research and funding student projects through its student grant program. The SAGE or Student Associates for a Greener Environment grant program works to connect faculty mentors with students interested in pursuing research, civic, and educational projects related to the mission of the Center.  The Center’s Earth Charter Mini-grants are awarded to faculty projects that advance the Center’s mission through innovative educational research and practice based on an ethic of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Contributions also support the Center’s new Sustainability in Action program for projects in the local community which has graciously supported its efforts.
The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education continues to work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action.

The Center truly appreciates every contribution and hopes to continue to receive such great support from friends, colleagues, and the local community. For more information on the Center’s activities visit our website at, or call 239- 590-7025, or e-mail us at Contributions to the Center are tax deductible. Please make checks payable to CESE/FGCU and mail to Peter Blaze Corcoran, College of Arts and Sciences, 1501 FGCU Boulevard South, Fort Myers Florida, 33965-6565.



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.




The Center Welcomes Three New Board Members


The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) welcomes three new members to its Board of Advisors.  Maureen Watson, David Webb and Dr. John McCabe are the newest members to join a long list of distinguished Center Advisors. President Wilson G. Bradshaw of FGCU has appointed the three new members as the Center busily prepares for its upcoming annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture, which will take place at the end of February on Sanibel at Saint Michaels and All Angels Church.

Maureen Watson is a resident of Sanibel and is active in civic and conservation organizations. She is Founder and Director of Watson MacRae Gallery, which promotes the importance of visual art and community culture. A northeast native, Watson worked with major corporations in New York City before founding her first company, Triformance System. In 2002, she moved to Naples, Florida to pursue her love for the arts. She founded SilverTree School of Painting, where she organized workshops and painting trips to France. Watson became more civically involved with arts and conservation organizations in recent years. Watson served on the boards of Island Coast AIDS Network (ICAN), Ft. Myers and the Committee of the Islands, Sanibel. Previously, she has served on the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education’s Host Committee for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. Watson is excited to now be a member of the Center’s Board of Advisors. 


David Webb is an eighth generation Floridian who was born and raised on Sanibel Island. Webb graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies. He was one of the very first Student Assistant’s at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. In addition to his scholarly studies, Webb carries with him a lifelong passion for preserving South Florida’s natural heritage and habitats. This has propelled him into his 10-year career leading large environmental education organizations, museums, and nature and trail programs throughout Florida. Webb is Founder of the STEM Institute, which incorporates science, technology, engineering and mathematics into the realm of environmental education programs. Currently, Webb oversees the Miami EcoAdventures program for Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces. As a proud FGCU alumni and one of the original assistants at the Center, Webb is honored by his appointment to the Board of Advisors.

Dr. John McCabe is also a Sanibel resident and he has a passion for solar energy. McCabe currently serves as chair of the SanCap Solar Connect advisory and implementation committee. McCabe is a retired Emergency Room physician from Ann Arbor, Michigan. While an active physician, McCabe was also President, Chairman and Director of prestigious medical groups and hospitals in Ann Arbor. Since moving to Sanibel, McCabe has been advocating for solar energy freedom.


The Center’s Board of Advisors includes distinguished scholars, activist, scientist, and educators from the local community and across the world. This year’s Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture will feature Poet and essayist Alison Hawthorne Deming. The Lecture will take place February 26, 2016 at Saint Michael and All Angels Church. The Lecture is free and open to the public.




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!




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.

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.


For more information please contact our Student Assistants at 239-590-7025



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.