An author and researcher with extensive experience studying sustainability in developing countries will deliver two fascinating public lectures at Unity College this week.
At the next in the Unity College Fishbowl colloquium series, author William Powers will discuss “What’s Your 12×12? The Front Lines of Conservation and Simpler Living.”
This talk will include a brief version of Powers’ personal journey into international development and environmental conservation, with a few anecdotes about his time working in civil-war Liberia and in land protection and indigenous extinction in Bolivia.
Powers also will talk about his experiences living off-grid in a 12×12 cabin, and his micro-apartment “slow” urban living experiment in New York City, before concluding with a renewed way of living and doing “development” in his present hometown in Bolivia.
“This will be a wide-ranging talk to get the audience thinking about their own lives and choices in a global context,” said Dr. James T. Spartz, Unity College Assistant Professor of Environmental Communication, who helped organize the forum.
The event is noon to 12:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 6, on campus in Higgins Wing Room 212 of the Unity College Student Activities Building.
Powers will then deliver a Lapping Lecture at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, 42 Depot St., Unity. This event is also free and open to the public, with a reception and book signing to follow.
In his Lapping Lecture, Powers examines the 4,500-person town of Samaipata, one of Bolivia’s 24 nationally designated “ecological municipalities.” His research shows a critical link between sustainability and well-being: Samaipata’s happiness levels are above U.S. levels, yet at just 1/17th of U.S. per capita carbon footprint and GDP.
“Bill brings the eye of a humanist and analytical lens of a policy expert together ways that will help our students understand how policy and sustainability practices can work together,” Spartz said. “Social and economic progress are often reduced to single measures, such as GDP. Bill’s work through the World Policy Institute looks to assess social progress more broadly, to create a more sustainable and just world.”
During his talk and day on campus with students, faculty, and staff, Powers will explore questions such as: What functional and conservation-friendly alternatives to the growth model exist in today’s Bolivia? What is the role of social networks and “vernacular culture” in raising human well-being and biodiversity conservation results under a sustainable low-GDP, low-carbon scenario? Are there transferable South-North lessons?
“At Unity College, we prepare our students to live as global citizens. Mr. Powers has amassed an impressive body of research regarding development and conservation from Latin America to Africa to North America. Unity College students in every discipline will benefit from his global perspective on these issues,” Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury said.
Powers has worked for two decades in development aid and conservation in Latin America, Africa, and North America. From 2002 to 2004, he managed the community components of a project in the Bolivian Amazon that won a 2003 prize for environmental innovation from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
His essays and commentaries on global issues have appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune and National Public Radio. And his writing and speaking have been covered by CNN, PBS, ABC News, New York Daily News, Forbes, Bloomberg, London Times, The Atlantic, Utne, and HuffPost Live. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and an adjunct faculty member at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs.
Fishbowl is a stimulating colloquium series, open to the public, where Unity College faculty and invited outside speakers present their work at America’s Environmental College. From Maine ant hills to international policy, the series will bring audiences on compelling global environmental journeys this Fall. The Lapping Lecture occurs once per fall and spring semester as a way to engage the wider Unity community with thought-provoking ideas and opportunities for action.