513qCLaP5sL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ Kolbert picWilliams Reads

The “Williams Reads” book for the 2016-2017 school year is The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, Class of 1946 Environmental Fellow-in-Residence in the Center for Environmental Studies.

Williams Reads aims to foster new connections among students, staff, faculty, and community members by exploring diversity through a common reading experience.

“Over the last half-billion years, there have been Five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before.”

Watch Elizabeth Kolbert’s Confronting Climate Change video, in which she interviews many of the speakers who came for CCC this past year.


Speakers & Events


Ghana ThinkTank Year-long – Hosted by the Williams College Museum of Art – Ghana ThinkTank is an international collective that “develops the first world” by flipping conventional power dynamics. At Williams, Ghana ThinkTank will collaborate with our community in a year-long examination of climate change. This fall, student interns will operate a mobile unit collecting climate change “problems” on campus and beyond, and then send them to think tanks in Morocco and Indonesia. The resulting solutions will be put into action next spring.


Fall Semester   (September – December 2016)

Elizabeth Kolbert -“Conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert: The Sixth Extinction” – September 12, 8pm, ’62 Center, Main Stage –  has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999.  In addition to writing The Sixth Extinction, which received the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2015, she has also written Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change and The Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit. Her three-part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” from which Field Notes was adapted, won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine writing award and a National Academies Communication Award.


Fall Convocation September 17, 11am, Chapin Hall – During Convocation, six alumni will receive Williams Bicentennial Medals. This year’s honorees were selected for distinguished picture-164-1357245356achievement in fields relevant to the college’s yearlong program Confronting Climate Change.


Timothy Snyder – “Black Earth: The Ecological Politics of the Holocaust” – September 19, 7pm, Griffin 3 – is the author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, is the Housum Professor of History at Yale and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


2f32d19f4294790351f63d4c54f0be75810306d1All-Campus “Farm to Table” Dinner – September 21, 5-8pm, All Dining Halls – Open to the public as well.  Click here for the menu and cost for those not on the meal plan.

Van Jones – “Green Jobs, Not Jails” September 28, 7:30pm, ’62 Center, Main Stage – Author, lawyer, activist, and commentator, he is the President of Dream Corps and a regular CNN contributor. He served as President Obama’s Special Advisor on Green Jobs and is the author of The Green Collar Economy.



Maxine BurkettBurkett_Maxine ’98 – “Moving Stories: Justice and the Contemporary ‘Climate Refugee'”October 6, 7pm, Griffin 3 – Maxine Burkett is a professor in the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She teaches Climate Change Law and Policy, Torts, Ocean and Coastal Law, and International Environmental Law and has written extensively in diverse areas of climate law with a particular focus on climate justice, exploring the disparate impact of climate change on vulnerable communities in the United States and globally.


prd_007079Mark Tercek ’79 – “No time to waste – a conservationist’s perspective on how best to address climate change” October 12, 7:30pm, Brooks Rogers Recital Hall, Bernhard Music Center – Mark Tercek is the President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy and the author of Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.


will-and-wormsWill Allen – “Growing Power and the Good Food Revolution” – October 17, 7:30pm, Paresky Center Auditorium.  The CEO and co-founder of the non-profit organization Growing Power, Will Allen is an urban farmer who is transforming the cultivation, production, and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations.


Peter Hyubers, Harvard climatologist and MacArther grant winner, at the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Peter Huybers – “Climate, crops and consequences” – October 17, 4:15 PM, Clark 105.  Peter Huybers is a professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. His research on the climate system includes the cause of ice ages, the fidelity of geological records of past climate change, modern climate extremes, and the links between volcanism and climate.


story_mainJonathan K. Crane – “Earth, Water, Fire: Classic Jewish Sources on Stewardship” – November 3, 7:30 PM, Griffin 3 – is the Raymond F. Schinazi Scholar of Bioethics and Jewish Thought at Emory University’s Center for Ethics. He frequently speaks and publishes broadly on Judaism, ethics and bioethics, comparative religious ethics, narrative ethics, environmental and animal ethics, among other topics.



Priscilla McCutcheon Food Sustainability – November 15, 7:30, Griffin Hall, Room 3 a geographer from the University of Louisville, she works on food sustainability practices in Black religious nationalist organizations.




Winter Study, January 2017

Sustainable Investing SymposiumJanuary 18 & 19 in Griffin Hall, room 3. In a series of interactive discussions spread across two days, experts and practitioners from a range of disciplines will offer their perspectives on trends and opportunities in sustainable investing and will share successes and highlight emerging opportunities in green finance.


Joan EdwardsLog Lunch:  “Protecting Pollinators in the Midst of the Sixth Extinction” – January 20th, 12pm, at The Log
Joan Edwards, Chair of the Biology department and Washington Gladden 1859 Professor of Biology, focuses her research on the evolution of plant-animal interactions—flower-pollinator associations and plant-herbivore interactions. She is particularly interested in how plant behaviors enhance reproductive success.
To reserve a spot, follow the link above.


Spring Semester    (February – May 2017)


baba_brinkmanBaba Brinkman’s Rap Guide to Climate ChaosFebruary 3, 8:00pm – ’62 Center, MainStage – Fringe First Award Winner Baba Brinkman is the world’s first and only “peer reviewed rapper,”bringing science to the masses with his unique brand of hip-hop comedy theatrics. In Rap Guide to Climate Chaos, Brinkman breaks down the politics, economics, and science of global warming, following its surprising twists from the carbon cycle to the energy economy.


GardinerStephen Gardiner – The Peculiar Ethics of Geoengineering – February 28, 7:30 PM, Griffin 3 – Moral philosopher at University of Washington. Author of The Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change. His current research focuses on global environmental problems (especially climate change), future generations, and virtue ethics.


eLAskb7ZMatthew Liao – “Tackling Climate Change through Human Engineering” Weiss Lecture on Medicine & Medical Ethics – March 1, 7:00 PM, Griffin 3 – is Clinical Associate Professor of Bioethics at New York University; Director of Bioethics Program; Associate Director for The Center for Bioethics; Affiliate Professor of Philosophy; Environmental Studies; and Division of Medical Ethics, Department of Population Health


3628541145d722aabe6323aca29b0fd9e0427b5cJim Hansen“Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions” – March 8, 8:00 PM, Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernhard Music Center  Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions.  Dr. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in the 1980s that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue.


LavigneMichèle Lavigne – “Investigating coastal acidification in Maine’s intertidal ecosystems: Connecting undergraduate research with citizen science initiatives” – March 10, 1:30 PM, Clark 105.  Michèle Lavigne is a professor of Earth and Oceanographic Science at Bowdoin College. She studies rapid climate change and ocean acidification in the past and present, including its effects on marine biology, and the cycling of nutrients and carbon in the ocean.


Click to enlarge for the full schedule of events

“Snow Day! A roving reading to sooth snow-deprived psyches”  Sunday March 12.  Various locations at various times.  (Click on poster on right for more info)  Participate, watch, and listen to this implementation of the Moroccan think tank’s solution to one of our climate change problems.  See the facebook event here.


Ghana ThinkTank talk with Moroccan and Indonesia think tanks – March 13, 6pm, Lawrence Hall, L3.  Members of the Moroccan and Indonesian think tanks share their experiences with climate change and talk about the solutions they proposed in response to our climate change problems. Monday, March 13 6pm. Lawrence Hall, L3. Reception to follow. B.Y.O.C (bring your own cup)


Communicating Climate Science in a Post-Fact World,” a Climate Change Roundtable, April 5, 7:30 PM, Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernhard Music Center.  Andrew Revkin is an award-winning environmental journalist for the New York Times and a prominent voice in debates about climate change and the Anthropocene. Jacquelyn Gill specializes in Community Paleoecology & Conservation Biogeography at the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine. Revkin and Gill will participate in a roundtable discussion with Nicolas Howe, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Anthropology and Sociology and Phoebe Cohen, Assistant Professor of Geosciences.

Jacquelyn Gill – “The past is not dead: How the last 2.5 million years of global change can prepare us for the next century” April 6, 4:15-5:15pm, Clark Hall 105.  See Jacquelyn’s bio in the Climate Change Roundtable above.


Lynette Wallworth: CollisionsTuesday, April 11 at 7:30pmMainStage, ’62 Center [map]  Lynette Wallworth is an Australian artist known for her immersive multimedia installations, which focus on the interactivity between humans and the natural world.  Audience members will have the opportunity to view the 15-minute film, “Collisions”, using virtual reality headsets in the lobby of the MainStage preceding the talk.

Catherine Wolfram – “Energy Use in the Developing World: Perspectives from Kenya and India,” April 13 at 8:00pmBrooks-Rogers Recital Hall, Bernhard Music Center. Catherine Wolfram is the Cora Jane Flood Professor of Business Administration at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley. She is also Faculty Director of the Energy Institute at Haas and of The E2e Project, a research organization focused on energy efficiency.

Michael Gerrard – “U.S. Climate Policy under Trump,” Friday, April 14 at 2:00pmGriffin Hall, Room 3.  Michael Gerrard has become one of the world’s most distinguished environmental lawyers and is director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law  at Columbia University and a member of the faculties of the Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute.

The Center for Developmental Economics (CDE) Annual Conference – “Climate Change and Economic Policy in the Developing World”April 14, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Griffin 3 – Developing countries, which already face many economic pressures, must now contend with the risks and uncertainties posed by climate change.  Their policy choices will be influenced not only by domestic considerations, but also by the decisions taken in the developed world. The conference will consider the three main challenges:  mitigation, adaptation, and financing.


The Wedge Game

April 16th, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM, Goodrich Hall

As part of the Confronting Climate Change initiative, we will be closely examining campus emissions and holding some exercises, such as the wedge game, to demonstrate the options for the campus to meet its CO2 emissions reductions goals.  The Wedge Game is based on a 2004 paper by Rob Socolow. It is a game that demonstrates global greenhouse gas emissions in a visual way, and participants make choices about how to achieve reductions. We are planning to develop a campus version of the wedge game with campus data.  Student employees have been doing data collection and analysis this summer to prepare for this exercise. Among the areas they have been looking into are: transportation, underused spaces on campus, 24-hour buildings, dorm fridges, shower use, space heaters, and Winter Study.


LawrenceKira Lawrence“Back to the future? Insights into future climate change from warm climate intervals of the past” – April 17, 4:15 PM, Clark 105.  Kira Lawrence is a professor of Geology and Environmental Geoscience at Lafayette College. She studies episodes in Earth’s history when climate was naturally warmer than today, the history of ice age cycles, and the effects of changes in Earth’s orbit on climate variability.


Williams Moomaw ’59Earthweek 2017! “Changing the Trajectory of Climate.” April 17, 7:30 PM, Griffin 3. Lead author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2003, Professor of International Environmental Policy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, where he is the founding director of the Center for International Environment and Resouce Policy, the Tufts Climate Initiative and co-founder of the Global Development and Environmental Institute.



Bill McKibben“Outside the Comfort Zone:  Working for Change on an Overheated Planet.” April 20, 8pm, Bronfman Auditorium–  is an author and environmentalist.  His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change. He is a founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement.  (Bronfman will be limited to those with Williams IDs.  The talk will be live-streamed in Wege Auditorium (also in the Bronfman Science Center) & Paresky)


nixonRob Nixon – “Environmental Martyrdom and Defenders of the Forest.” April 27 at 7:O0 pm in Griffin 3- is the Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Family Professor in Humanities and the Environment at Princeton University. He is the author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. He teaches environmental studies, postcolonial studies, creative nonfiction, African literature, world literature, and twentieth century British literature.