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Lectures, Seminars, Symposia, & Colloquia

The Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) is a strong supporter of the University of Illinois’ educational mission — and that includes encouraging members of the campus community to attend lectures, seminars, symposia, and colloquia that will help them discuss and learn more about issues of sustainability, energy, and environment. This page features one-time talks and series of talks that promote that kind of learning. One example is the iSEE-hosted Charles David Keeling Lecture (see video). To check for individual events of interest, visit the Illinois Sustainability Calendar. Do you know of a series not listed here that would be of interest to iSEE website visitors? Please email us, and we’ll gladly consider adding it!

The Charles David Keeling Lecture

Named for Charles David Keeling, a 1948 graduate of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois who was renowned for making extremely precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), this annual lecture explores topics of anthropogenic climate change.

The Lecture is sponsored by the School of Chemical Sciences (SCS), the School of Earth, Society and Environment (SESE), the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at Illinois.


Keeling Lecture 2018

Click to watch Eban Goodstein’s lecture from April 2018.

As part of Earth Month 2018 events organized by iSEE, Eban Goldstein, Director of both the Center for Environmental Policy and the MBA in Sustainability at Bard College, delivered the 2018 Charles David Keeling Lecture.

Title: “Climate Change Turns 30: Tribalism and Sustainability”

Abstract: “As a global social phenomenon, global warming was born around the year 1988. At just 30 years old, climate change has already profoundly shaped our culture. In the United States, the politics of denial have risen to prominence and power. In this talk, I take the long view — and argue that climate change action will increasingly occupy the center of an expansive tribalism, a global political, civil society, and business movement for a sustainable future.”

Bio: Goodstein is known for organizing national educational initiatives on climate change, which have engaged thousands of schools and universities, civic institutions, faith groups, and community organizations in solutions-driven dialogue. He is the author of three books: Economics and the Environment, now in its 8th edition; Fighting for Love in Century of Extinction: How Passion and Politics Can Stop Global Warming; and The Trade-Off Myth: Fact and Fiction about Jobs and the Environment. Goodstein earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in Geology from Williams College.


More About Keeling

Keeling photograph

Charles David Keeling

After receiving his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern in 1954, Keeling spent most of his career at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography until his death in 2005. As the first to confirm the accumulation of atmospheric CO2, he produced a data set now known widely as the Keeling Curve.

To quote Charles Kennel, former Scripps Director, his measurements “are the single most important environmental data set taken in the 20th century.” Keeling also constructed one of the first models of the carbon cycle into which future man-made CO2 can be introduced to predict concentration levels in the air and water well into the next century.

His first few years of measurements also demonstrated the now well-known seasonal cycle in atmospheric CO2 due to the “breathing” of the biosphere.


Past Keeling Lecturers

  • 2018 — Eban Goodstein, Director of the Bard College’s Center for Environmental Policy and MBA in Sustainability program. Watch Goodstein’s talk >>>
  • 2017 — Illinois Atmospheric Sciences Professor Emeritus John E. Walsh, former Director of the NOAA/Alaska Cooperative Institute for Arctic Research. Watch Walsh’s talk >>>
  • 2016 — Christopher B. Field, Founding Director of the Carnegie Science Department of Global Ecology and Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at Stanford University. Watch Field’s talk >>>
  • 2013 — Edward Maibach, Director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University
  • 2011 — Susan Solomon, Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado and an NOAA Scientist
  • 2010 — Ralph Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences and Chair of the National Research Council.
CAS MillerComm Earth Month Lecture

iSEE organizes a series of events for Earth Month on the theme of the global impacts of climate change, and has secured MillerComm Lectures as part of the month.

The Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosts the MillerComm Lecture Series each academic year, and the lectures are supported by the Office of the Chancellor, Office of Equal Opportunity and Access, Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, the George A. Miller Programs Committee and Peggy Harris Memorial Fund, The Council of Deans, The David Gottlieb Memorial Foundation, and The Graduate College.


2018 MillerComm Earth Month Lecture

As part of Earth Month 2018 events organized by iSEE, Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, delivered the 2018 MillerComm Earth Month Lecture on April 6, followed by a reception and book signing. More than 130 people attended Mann’s lecture.

The 2018 lecture was additionally co-sponsored by the School of Earth, Society, and Evironment as well as the School of Integrative Biology and the Departments of Atmospheric Science, Crop Sciences, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, and Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

Title: “A Return to the Madhouse: Climate Change Denial in the Age of Trump”

Abstract: Mann will examine the evidence of climate change, the reasons we should care, and the absurd efforts by special interest groups and politicians to confuse the public and deny a problem even exists. Despite the monumental challenges we face, Mann’s talk will give reasons to be cautiously optimistic that we will avert catastrophic climate change impacts.

Bio: Mann, Director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC), received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth’s climate system.

Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is also a co-founder of the award-winning science website Mann has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications as well as four books; Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change; The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines; The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy; and The Tantrum that Saved the World.


Past MillerComm Earth Month Lecturers

  • 2017 — Kim Cobb, ADVANCE Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, on coral bleaching and dying reefs in the central Pacific.
International Food Security at Illinois (IFSI) Symposium

This event, hosted by Food Security at Illinois (IFSI), the Department of Crop Sciences, and the College of ACES Office of Research, highlights the unique capacities of the University of Illinois to improve food systems and help ensure that all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to achieve their human potential. The symposium seeks to foster the development of existing and new collaborations toward solving critical challenges of agricultural production to ensure future food security.

The fourth annual symposium will be April 30-May 1, 2018, on the University of Illinois campus. “Food Security in the 21st Century: Envisioning R&D Strategies for Meeting the Demand” will bring together some of the world’s leading agricultural researchers to share their visions for addressing food security in the 21st century. This year’s themes: 1) mining germplasm banks efficiently and effectively; 2) addressing abiotic and biotic stresses in the context of climate change; and 3) improving photosynthesis. An overarching theme of the symposium will be how to train the next generation of scientists.

Read more about this event and see past presentations on the College of ACES Office of International Programs’ website.

ISTC Sustainable Seminar Series

ISTC_horiz_cmyk_cs4Each semester, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, puts on the Sustainability Seminar Series. ISTC’s goal is to offer “presentations by researchers, policy makers, and corporate executives on various topics related to sustainability, energy, and the environment. This series is an opportunity to share scientific research with peers in a relaxed, informal environment. Please feel free to bring a lunch. Seminars usually last about an hour and questions are welcome.” To read more about the Series and to see archives from past talks, visit the ISTC website. iSEE intends to post each scheduled event on the Illinois Sustainability Calendar.