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Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education


Save the Date!

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is excited to announce the 2015 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. The on-campus lecture will take place on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 5:00pm - 6:30pm in Cohen Center room 247. The off-campus lecture will be held on Friday, January 30, 2015 at 7:00pm at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island.

This year’s Lecture entitled, Environmental Education in Turbulent Times: Perspectives from Rachel Carson’s Hawk Mountain and Wangari Maathai’s Karura Forest, will feature David W. Orr and Peter Blaze Corcoran. Both Orr and Corcoran are distinguished environmental educators and authors who express the need for education that addresses the most pressing issues humanity faces, namely education that prepares students to address the preeminent issue of our time, climate change, and the meta-narrative of our time, sustainability.

Orr and Corcoran’s lecture has grown out of their collaboration on a new book, which will discuss the educational implications of addressing climate change. Orr and Corcoran stress the notion that more of the same kind of education will only multiply our problems. Both speakers will talk about about reconceiving education to properly address needs in our changing world. Orr and Corcoran both realize that our current society is nowhere near sustainable and that fundamental changes are needed in education and our cultural values. They will discuss changing educational practices to better address climate change, suggesting a very different curriculum for higher education and education in general. Both Orr and Corcoran would agree that, above all, the current “unsustainability” crisis is really a crisis of values, or lack of certain values, which is why education reform is at the forefront of both of their many publications and lectures.

David W. Orr is Counselor to the President at Oberlin College and a fellow at the Cleveland Foundation. He is founder and Chair of the Board of the Oberlin Project and was formerly Oberlin’s Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics. Peter Blaze Corcoran is a Professor of Environmental Studies and Environmental Education at Florida Gulf Coast University, where he serves as Director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. Corcoran was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship for the 2013-2014 academic year at University of Nairobi in Kenya. He is currently working at the University of Nairobi’s Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies developing environmental education curriculum.

Rachel Carson’s work is the inspiration for the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. Her 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 2015 Rachel Carson distinguished Lecture is free and open to the public. To request an invitation or for more information please visit or contact us at or 239-590-7166.

Visit our 'Signature Events'--'Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture' for a resource guide we have developed for the Lecture.

 By: Kevin Bedson


Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue 2014 a Success!

This year’s Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, titled “Talking on Water: Transforming Education into Action,” focused on the important and interrelated topics of water quality, watershed protection, and the protection of Florida’s coastal habitats. The primary goal of the Dialogue was to educate and empower students to speak up and advocate for the protection and preservation of Florida’s water resources, and associated wildlife.  

The dialogue, which took place on October 27th, came at a critical time, with an imperative conservation amendment, Amendment One, on Florida’s November ballot.  One of the secondary goals of the dialogue was to inform students about the facts surrounding the new conservation initiative and to encourage them to get out and vote.  The Amendment 1 ballot initiative passed with an overwhelming majority voting yes on Election Day.

During the dialogue the panel of experts explained the fact that clean water and thriving ecosystems are essential to Florida’s economic prosperity and quality of life. They also explained to the audience that, despite this fact, large-scale changes to the landscape and years of overdevelopment threaten water resources and the integrity of Florida’s vast, interconnected ecosystems. To demonstrate this the panelists utilized compelling data and shared pictures of Florida’s environment before it was degraded by human development. The panelists showed how water historically flowed across the state and elucidated the audience to the damages humans have caused by drastically altering this flow.

During the dialogue the panelists stressed the idea that, in order to ensure current and future generations have access to the wonder and abundance Florida’s unique natural environment can provide, funds must be set aside to acquire and protect vital conservation lands.

The panelists explained that over the next twenty years Florida’s population is expected to continue growing, with no sign that development of ecologically sensitive areas will slow, further pressuring Florida’s distressed water resources and ecosystems.
The panelists did a great job at unpacking the complex issues surrounding water quality and development in Florida. The panelists succeeded in engaging and informing the audience by highlighting the effects that humans have had, and continue to have, on Florida’s natural environment. Attendants walked away inspired and ready to act, and from that aspect the dialogue was a success.

By: Kevin Bedson

 Talking on Water: Transforming Education into Action

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. This year’s Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue will focus on the protection of Southwest Florida’s water resources and coastal environments through education and action. The event aims to educate and empower students to stand up for the protection of our natural resources and natural wonders. Clean water and thriving ecosystems are essential to Florida’s quality of life and economic prosperity.

This year’s Dialogue will take place on October 27, 2014 in the Student Union Ballroom at FGCU.  The Center invites stakeholders, community members, students, and campus leaders for conversation and snacks in the Ballroom before the main event for a networking session with vendors starting at 5:00 p.m.  The Dialogue will take place from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A question and answer session will follow.
The following Organizations have been confirmed for the networking session: Florida Department of Environmental Protection South District, Estero Bay Buddies, Imaginarium of Fort Myers, CROW, ECO FGCU, Calusa Nature Center, FGCU Food Forest, Think Green Vote Blue, Riverwatch CRCA and Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserve.

This year’s Moderator will be Brandon Hollingshead, interim director of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education and an instructor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Civic Engagement at Florida Gulf Coast University.  His academic and teaching interests are in rhetoric of sustainability, humanities and sustainability, service-learning, and civic engagement.  Hollingshead’s masters thesis from the University of Utah was on “Crafting Principles for Sustainable Development: Rhetorical Negotiations in the Drafting of the Earth Charter and Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development.” He has published and presented on topics connected to youth participation in sustainable development, community-engaged scholarship, and ethical dimensions of sustainability in higher education.
This year’s panelist:

Joy Hazell is a faculty member of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences serving as the Sea Grant Extension Agent in Lee County.  Joy holds an undergraduate degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of New Hampshire and a graduate degree in Marine Affairs and Policy from the University of Miami. She has extensive experience in developing needs-based educational programs, facilitation and project planning.  As the Lee County Sea Grant Agent Joy plans, develops, implements and evaluates comprehensive needs based marine and natural resource educational programs that focus on marine fisheries and habitat issues.

Win Everham is a professor of Environmental Studies at FGCU. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental and Forest Biology at State University of New York, from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry and has a B.S. in Biological Science from Michigan Technological University. His current research interests include examining the impacts of disturbance, including exotic invasions and anthropogenic activities, on forest communities and ecosystems.


Jeremy Frantz is the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Environmental Policy Specialist and works on a variety of planning issues to protect natural resources and quality of life in southwest Florida.  He began working with the Florida Water and Land Legacy in 2012 on the petition gathering campaign which eventually put Amendment No. 1 on the 2014 ballot.  He is now leading the Conservancy’s public outreach campaign to educate voters about this historic conservation initiative.

 The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue is intended to spark youth action and stimulate environmental discourse among FGCU and Southwest Florida communities. The event is, as always, open to the general public, including policymakers, conservation organizations, citizen advocates, and the scientific community. For more information on the Center’s event call 239-590-7025 or email the Center at

By: Kevin Bedson


SAGE Welcomes Another Round of Student Grants!

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education “works toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action.” This year the Center is continuing to work toward that dream by implementing its successful grant program for students, the Student Associates for a Greener Environment program, also known as SAGE.

The mission of SAGE is to nurture students in their leadership capacity and to develop their identities as environmentally conscious individuals. The SAGE program works to connect faculty mentors with students interested in pursuing research, civic, and educational projects related to the mission of the Center and the values it shares with the Earth Charter.  The Earth Charter is an international framework with guiding principles for pursuing a just, sustainable, and peaceful world, which has been adopted by both the Center and FGCU.

Student members of SAGE may participate in innovative educational research projects, educational projects that promote ecologically literacy, civic engagement activities in local environmental issues, scholarly activity, teaching and service related to environmental and sustainability education, and the development of environmental youth initiatives. The main goal of SAGE is to create transformative leaders working toward a sustainable future.

Students who become associates are expected to make a commitment to the mission of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, and to the values described in the Earth Charter. SAGE members will work within the Center’s tradition of collaboration, civil dialogue and intellectual integrity. Students who become members will be nurtured in their leadership capacity and assisted in developing their identities as environmentally conscious individuals.

In previous years SAGE members have completed projects ranging from creating elementary school environmental education curriculums to starting community gardens to researching women’s rights in South America. We look forward to the many new and exciting projects that this year’s SAGE members will take on.

For more information including SAGE applications click here.

By: Kevin Bedson

Big News at the Center!

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is gearing up for a new exciting academic year. The staff of the Center is hard at work preparing for the upcoming Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, one of the Center’s signature events, which will take place at FGCU on October 27, 2014 in the Cohen Center Ballroom from 5pm to7pm.  

The big news at the start of this year is that Brandon Hollingshead has been nominated as Interim Director for the Center. Hollingshead is more than qualified for the position. He has been affiliated with the center since its inception in 2004, when he was hired as Center Staff. After attending graduate school at the University of Utah, Hollingshead returned to FGCU as a professor of interdisciplinary studies and as a Faculty Associate of the Center. Hollingshead is the perfect candidate to hold the title of Interim Director while the Center’s Director of ten years, Peter Blaze Corcoran is in Kenya further contributing to curriculum development at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies in Nairobi. Corcoran spent the past year working at the Wangari Maathai Institute in Nairobi as part of his Fulbright Fellowship and is planning to return to Africa for an additional ten months this year while he is on his sabbatical.

Hollingshead will stay in touch with Corcoran while he is in Africa, as they are currently working on a new book together on Intergenerational Learning and Transformative Leadership for Sustainable Futures. Additional information on Center activities and upcoming events will be posted on the Center’s website soon.

By: Kevin Bedson

The Center Would Like to Welcome Judy Rosenberg

This year the Center is welcoming a new member to our team, filling our new position of executive secretary, Judy Rosenberg. Judy will help the Center with accounting, fundraising, scheduling and all Center events. She will also keep up with Center reporting which will be a huge help during Director Peter Blaze’s Fulbright Fellowship in Africa. Judy is an essential member of our team and her input and hard work will help lead the Center into another great year.

Judy Rosenberg recently relocated from Palm Beach County to SWFL.  Originally from Brooklyn New York, where she studied at Brooklyn College.  She has worked at Florida Atlantic University and Broward County Libraries.  Judy looks forward to spending time with her family who reside in Cape Coral, and -Fort Myers.  Her son and daughter-in-law are both FGCU alumni.


Planting Trees for the Future!

On April 22nd, with the help of Kim Charmatz’s class, Kelly Walsh and the FGCU student body the Center successfully planted its beautiful Live Oak tree that was donated by our local forester Clark Ryals! Thank you everyone who made this event such a success and we look forward to our future Earth Day tree plantings. This tree was pledge for the plant-for-the-planet project that was started in Germany by a fourth grader who was inspired by Wangari Maathai. As you may know, currently Peter Blaze Corcoran is teaching at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peach and Environmental Studies in Niarobi Kenya. The work of this inspirational woman has moved many of us here at the Center and it was an easy decision to pledge our tree for this cause. For more information please visit:


Ceremonial Earth Day Tree Planting!

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education hosted a ceremonial tree planting Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 10:00am. The tree was planted next to FGCU's Food Forest storage unit. All was invited to join in this Earth Day celebration. Many thanks to Clark Ryals with the Local Forestry Service for donating the beautiful live oak and to FGCU's Grounds Manager, George Brown, for helping us find its home.

We would like to thank Kim Charmatz and her Environmental Education students for their hard work and commitment to making Earth Day (FGCU’s Earth day and the real Earth Day) such a success! Posted above is a picture of the hand-picked and hand written invitations handed out to FGCU students to attend our tree planting ceremony. Also thanks to the Food Foresters for watching over our beautiful Live Oak tree until its planting day.

 Let’s Celebrate the Earth!
Earth Day 2014

On April 15th the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education held an Earth Day activities course on the Library Lawn for students to take part in. The course was focused on teaching students sustainable and eco-friendly practices. With help from community partners, students who attended the event went away with a Publix reusable bag and lots of goodies!

After reaching out to the community, we would like to thank several partners for their help and support of our event. The Center was able to receive 150 reusable bags donated from Publix. Publix also supplied us with 200 brown bags to use for our part in The Earth Day Groceries Project. This is the 21st year for The Earth Day Groceries Project, and it is one of the oldest and largest educational activities coordinated online. Our event’s project write up can be found at:

The FGCU physical plant also played a role in this amazing day by letting the Center borrow their ‘recycle right’ education boards as well as their educational recycling board games. The physical plant focuses on teaching students how to properly recycle on campus. Lee County also helped spread recycling awareness by supplying the Center with 60 educational pamphlets on how to properly recycle in Lee County.  FGCU’s Student Government helped our green cleaning education center by donating mason jars for our handmade laundry detergent created from recipes found at the Woman’s Voices for the Earth website. The FGCU Food Forest also supported the Center’s Earth Day event by donating 52 pigeon pea plants, planted in pots donated by the Naples Botanical Garden, that were given to students participating in the event.










As a follow up to FGCU’s Earth Day events, the Local Forestry Services, thanks to Clark Ryals, has donated a 25 gallon Live Oak tree to be planted at the Food Forest on the true Earth Day, April 22nd. Beginning at 8am, this event is open to the entire student body and tree planting activities will be held during this time.  

For additional Center supported campus activities please visit our Campus Connections page. There you can find an up to date list of campus events!
To learn more about any of the organizations listed above please visit the following sites: , ,, ,

By: Briana Stiehl

Center Director Attends Climate Reality Training Event

Al Gore, Chairman and Founder of the Climate Reality Project wants us to realize that the debate is over, climate change is happening, and the realities of climate change require action. If we are to lessen its impacts we must understand and help others to understand the sense of urgency the climate crisis demands.

The Project recently hosted its 24th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Johannesburg, South Africa. The three-day event took place March 12-14, 2014 and was the first event of its kind on the African continent. The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education’s Director, Peter Blaze Corcoran, who is currently working in Nairobi Kenya on a Fulbright Fellowship, was invited to attend the training event and became a Climate Reality Leader, joining a global movement of citizens taking action on the climate crisis. Dr. Corcoran traveled from Nairobi to Johannesburg with Wanjira Maathia to represent the Wangari Maathia Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies and FGCU. The event brought over 700 individuals from 53 countries together to learn about how they could personally make a difference in helping solve the climate crisis.

Over the course of the three days, participants learned how to communicate the urgency of the climate crisis, heard from subject experts, learned how to combine science and solutions to engage audiences, and learned how to influence others to take action. One of the most extraordinary parts of the training was the wide variety of people who came to Johannesburg and came away as Climate Reality Leaders. The attendees came from all over the globe, the diversity cut across race, income, profession, and age.

There were leaders from all sectors of society, including teachers, students, farmers, and businesspeople. They came to learn about public communications, the science of climate change, and the solutions we already have, such as alternative energy and grassroots organizing. They left inspired, connected, and ready to join the 6,000 Climate Reality Leaders who are already active around the world. In my interview with Dr. Corcoran he said, “For me the training was life changing”, he explained, “The seemingly unassailable science was horrifying; the response of the leaders and youth leaders was inspiring.”

Attendees who completed the training became Climate Reality Leaders and are required to complete at least 10 activities promoting climate change awareness. Dr. Corcoran has already begun to fulfill his requirement by giving a lecture at the University of Botswana on the response of higher education institutions to the threats of climate change. He will be giving another lecture at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi in May, entitled Climate Collapse: Kenya on the Front Lines of a Global Environmental Crisis.

By: Kevin Bedson

Haffenreffer Challenge Matches Gifts to Center

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education recently hosted its 2014 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture and 10th Anniversary Celebration. For the first time in the Center’s history, the signature event was a theatrical performance. The Center invited Actress Kaiulani Lee to perform her one-woman show “A Sense of Wonder” which is based on the life and works of Rachel Carson. Lee mesmerized and moved the audience with her convincing portrayal of Carson. Guests felt as though they were watching Rachel Carson herself on the stage.

 Immediately following the performance, the Center hosted its Tenth Anniversary Celebration. Guests joined the Center in celebrating a decade worth of scholarship, education and action in pursuit of a more peaceful and sustainable world. During the celebration Sanibel residents Mallory and Peter Haffenreffer, announced that they will graciously renew their Haffenreffer Challenge, which will match gifts to the Center up to a total of $10,000.

We are still working to meet our fundraising goal for this year. Contributions to the Center help support Center activities that include Earth Charter Mini-grants,  SAGE Mini-grants (Student Associates for a Greener Environment),  scholarly publications in environmental education, student employment, environmental education research, and signature educational events.

The Center would like to extend a Special thanks to BIG ARTS, the Host Committee, the FGCU Book Store, the West Wind Inn and the Editors at the Island Sun for their contributions.
The Center truly appreciates every contribution and hopes to continue to receive such great support from friends, colleagues, and the local community. Such support is vital to the Center's efforts and allows it to continue its work towards a more sustainable local and global community.

By: Kevin Bedson


Center Hosts Successful Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture


Excitement filled the atmosphere at BIG ARTS as guests waited with anticipation to see Rachel Carson brought to life in the renowned one-woman show “A Sense of Wonder”. Actress Kaiulani Lee, who brings more than 35 years of experience in theatre, film, and television to her portrayal of Carson, performs the play with extreme passion.  Lee’s magical and moving performance genuinely captured Carson’s essence and left guests captivated.

The Center’s annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture seeks to engage the public in discussions on sustainability, ethics, democracy and literature with scholars and public intellectuals. This year, to celebrate its tenth anniversary the Center invited Kaiulani Lee to perform her one-woman show. In “A Sense of Wonder”, Lee takes on the role of Rachel Carson in order to showcase Carson’s love of the natural world and her fight to defend it. The play has been the centerpiece of regional and national conferences on conservation, education, journalism, and the environment, and the Center knew it would be a great way to commemorate Rachel Carson and bring her message to life. 

Prior to the play, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran presented Co-chairs Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr with the Center’s highest award, the Rachel Carson Award. The Center gives this award, in the form of a lightning whelk, to recipients who embody Rachel Carson’s contributions most relevant to the Center’s mission. Tucker and Orr then made brief remarks, which set the context for the play. Orr set up the historical context and explained why it is so important that we heed Carson’s warnings and spread her message today. Tucker provided the cosmological context for Carson’s work by drawing attention to the larger story of the Universe and life on Earth.

After the play the Center hosted its Tenth Annual Celebration in Philips Gallery. Guests were invited to join the Center in remembering a decade’s worth of scholarship, education, and action in pursuit of a more peaceful and sustainable world. Center Director Peter Corcoran along with Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr made remarks on the Center’s ten-year history and its future, and Kaiulani Lee joined guests to reflect on the importance of Rachel Carson’s work. Then, Sanibel residents Mallory and Peter Haffenreffer announced that they will graciously renew their fundraising challenge, which will match donations to the Center up to a total of $10,000.

The Center is looking forward to the future and is delighted that Ms. Kaiulani Lee came to Sanibel and evoked Carson’s spirit as a way of commemorating her legacy and the Center’s ten-year history. The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is a scholarly center located at Florida Gulf Coast University. The Center works toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth. 


 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 has welcomed back its entire staff to begin the new academic year.   The Center would like to welcome Student Assistant Kevin Bedson and Briana Stiehl to the team, and we welcome back Darrel Bagiotti, Betsy Evans, and Andrew Stansell.

The Center will be celebrating its tenth year of working to realize the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action. In a decade of excellence its commitment to the FGCU and southwest Florida community has allowed the Center to share its vision with hundreds of students, community members, and businesses on both local and international scales.

Briana Stiehl is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and a SWFL native. Her major is Environmental Studies. She is interested in the outdoors, raising her own animals and riding horses in her spare time. While working for The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education Briana will manage the website and maintain files. Briana hopes to share knowledge in this field of education to others including the public. Briana would love to work in the outdoors upon graduation.

Kevin Bedson is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and a South Florida native. His major is Communication Ecology and he has a minor in Philosophy. He is interested in the role that media plays in shaping our perception of the natural world. Kevin enjoys outdoor activities, especially those on and in the water. Kevin is an avid wake boarder, free diver, and scuba diver. Kevin’s role at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education will be public relations and will include managing the Center’s website and working with local newspapers. While working at the Center Kevin hopes to extend principles of sustainable living to students and the community.


Betsy Evans is a graduate student at Florida Gulf Coast University working towards a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences.  She received a B.A. in Biology with a minor in Spanish from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  Betsy is a lab instructor for the General Biology labs at FGCU and assists in avian research at the Babcock Ranch.  She hopes to continue her education emphasizing in ornithology.

Andrew Stansell is a graduate from FGCU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies. This is Andrew’s fifth year at the Center and he will be taking a lead role in managing the Center’s SAGE Mini-grant program. He has pursued his passion for the environment since his childhood through outdoor recreational activities. After graduation Andrew hopes to continue his education in fisheries management.


We will be looking to our Student Assistants to help us duplicate the success of last year’s term.  Last year we were able to hold a number of successful events including our two signature events, Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue and Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture.  In addition to our two signature events, we also enjoyed our most successful Fundraiser ever!

We are already working hard in preparation for this year’s events. This year the Center will be hosting its Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture and Tenth Anniversary Celebration. This year’s performance will be “A Sense of Wonder” by Kaiulani Lee. The first of two performances will take place Thursday evening, February 20, 2014 at 7:00pm on campus at the TheatreLab. The next performance will be Friday, February 21, 2014. The event will be held at 7:30pm in Schein Hall at BIG ARTS on Sanibel. The Center will also host its Tenth Annual Fundraising Celebration Immediately following the second performance, it will take place on the BIG ARTS porch and terrace at 9:00pm.

We invite you to join us in remembering a decade’s worth of scholarship, education, and action in pursuit of a more peaceful and sustainable world. For more information please contact our Student Assistants at 239-590-7025 or our Executive Secretary at 239-590-7444.