The climate is changing. Now is the time for decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to new conditions for the sake of future generations.
This is the powerful message shared in public forums across the United States by Unity College President Stephen Mulkey, an internationally recognized scientist who is among the strongest voices in American higher education for addressing global climate change.
Mulkey and Unity College have joined with eleven businesses and organizations in Maine to organize the Climate Solutions Expo & Summit, a day of work sessions and events showcasing responses to climate change, slated for Wednesday, March 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center located at 76 Community Drive in Augusta.
The full schedule of events and registration information is online at www.climatesolutionsme.org.
Mulkey will serve as the keynote speaker for the Climate Solutions Summit at 9:15 a.m. At 1:15 p.m. he will co-moderate a panel of Maine college presidents who will consider climate change mitigation within higher education. The participants are: Darron Collins (co-moderator), president, College of the Atlantic; Paul Ferguson, president, University of Maine at Orono; Kathryn Foster, president, University of Maine at Farmington; Rick Hopper, president, Kennebec Valley Community College; and Laurie Lachance, president, Thomas College.
An advocate for sustainability in higher education and divestment from fossil fuels as a tool to advance broad recognition of the dangers posed by global climate change, Mulkey led Unity College to become the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels.
He has framed such divestment initiatives in higher education as an ethical imperative. Through his leadership, Unity College also adopted sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century transdisciplinary (collaborative) environmental problem solving, as a framework for teaching and learning.
“There can be no more important or relevant mission for education than to focus on the sustainability challenges of this century,” said Mulkey. “Sustainability science is defined by the problems that it addresses. Recent scientific understanding shows that we have transgressed the boundaries of the safe operating space for humanity with respect to the natural environment.”
“Climate change amplifies the effects of freshwater depletion, nitrogen pollution, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, and changes in land use,” he stated. “These realities impose an ethical imperative on education to prepare students to confront and adapt to unfolding ecological crises. Sustainability science collaboration across disciplines is the problem-solving process. This approach empowers students to be knowledge brokers as they focus on the dynamics of coupled human-natural systems.”
Mulkey’s keynote address will draw from his decades of experiences as a researcher, scientist, and educator for such high-profile organizations as the International Center for Tropical Ecology at the University of Missouri, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Florida and University of Idaho. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).