Presidential Inauguration
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Foundations for a New American Environmentalism

Speakers and Panelists

Thomas Lovejoy


Keynote speaker Thomas Lovejoy began our symposium. He was followed by three professionally moderated topical discussions in which thought leaders from ESF and beyond engaged in dialogue about the big questions and strategies that can help chart a path forward.

Discussion Moderator

  • Tara Sonenshine, George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs


  • Emanuel Carter – SUNY-ESF
  • David Dreisen – Syracuse University
  • Robin Kimmerer – SUNY-ESF
  • Mark Lichtenstein – Syracuse University
  • Henry Lickers – Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force
  • Karin Limburg – SUNY-ESF
  • David Newman – SUNY-ESF
  • Laura Rickard – SUNY-ESF
  • Kevin Stack – Northeast Natural Homes
  • Alex Trembath – The Breakthrough Institute
  • Niki Vermeulen – University of Manchester, UK
  • Lilith Wyatt – Coordinator for A2A
Presidential Inaugural Symposium

Symposium Online

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September 11, 2014
SUNY-ESF Gateway Center

For more than a century, SUNY-ESF has pursued the scientific understanding of environmental systems and dedicated itself to the proposition that we can create a better future through the exploration, conservation, and responsible stewardship of the natural world. As environmental challenges grow in number and scale faster than society’s ability to confront them, it is apparent that what we are doing today (in America, at ESF, and elsewhere) is not enough. Fundamental changes in our thinking and actions are necessary to bring about a quality of civic engagement and governance in America, at all scales, that is much more responsive, inclusive and effective.

Symposium Schedule

1 - 1:15 p.m.
Welcome and opening – Valerie Luzadis, (SUNY-ESF)

1:15 - 1:55 p.m.
Keynote address –Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University)

2 - 5 p.m.
Discussion Sessions
Moderated by Tara Sonenshine (George Washington University)

  • 2:00 - 2:55 p.m.
    Discussion Panel A:
    Examining Environmental Values and the Relationships of Humans and Nature
    Panelists: Emanuel Carter, Robin Kimmerer, David Newman, Alex Trembath
  • 3:00 - 3:55 p.m.
    Discussion Panel B
    Visions of the Future: What do we want and what is achievable?
    Panelists: David Driesen, Karin Limburg, Kevin Stack, Lilith Wyatt
  • 4:00 - 4:55 p.m.
    Discussion Panel C
    Systems-level Thinking – Bringing Together Values, Visions, Process and Institutions
    Panelists: Mark Lichtenstein, Henry Lickers, Laura Rickard, Niki Vermulen

5 - 5:30 p.m.
Closing Commentary - President Quentin Wheeler (SUNY-ESF)

What is a New American Environmentalism?

New American Environmentalism is not a well-defined concept that already exists, and far less a new ideology (-ism) that we are trying to promote. Rather we see it as a process and an important opportunity to renew and strengthen our commitments to the Earth and to each other. We can do this by asking hard questions, by confronting difficult realities, by making sure the right lessons are constantly being assimilated, and by creating a dynamic and constructive forum that invites radically new, creative possibilities to emerge as we move forward. A growing literature in the popular press and academic journals raises the notion of a “new environmentalism” that informs our consideration as well.


The main goals of our symposium were to 1) invite deeper reflection on the values, visions and strategies that have characterised environmentalism in the past, 2) lay the ground-work for a national conversation, informed by science and compassion, that will continue after the symposium, and 3) motivate and empower a new generation of students, citizens and young academics to re-imagine and reinvent our future in ways that can enrich and strengthen relationships with the diverse communities that form our living planet.

Guiding Questions
  • What are some of the big questions, issues, or opportunities that you think are crucial to address, and that are too often ignored?
  • What are some features of environmental discourse that you find can be counterproductive, self-defeating, and even paralyzing at times?
  • Can climate change and biodiversity loss be addressed without confronting inequalities in America and globally?
  • What do you think a “New American Environmentalism” could/should look like? And how do you think academic institutions could be involved in shaping or informing it?