Category Archives: News & Events

National Climate Seminar, Wednesday call-in throughout the Fall

The National Climate Seminar has a terrific fall line-up! Calls this year will be Wednesday at noon eastern. Assign the half-hour calls to your students, for a chance to hear top scientists, analysts and political leaders discuss climate and clean energy solutions.

  • Bill McKibben, author, Eaarth, 8-Sep
  • David Orr, Environmental Studies, Oberlin College, 22-Sep
  • Liz Butler, Exectuive Director, 1Sky, 06-Oct
  • Bill Snape, Senior Counsel, Center for Biological Diversity, 20-Oct
  • Michael Mann, Dir., Earth Systems Science, Penn State, 03-Nov
  • Bryan Walsh, Journalist, Time Magazine, 17-Nov
  • Juliet Schor, Economist and author, Plentitude, 1-Dec

The National Climate Seminar is sponsored by The Bard Center for Environmental Policy, and made possible by a grant from The Clif Bar Family Foundation.

First Gross National Happiness USA Conference

Read the Champlain Business Journal article on the first Gross National Happiness USA conference held at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont this July.  The three-day conference, which also included separate sessions to train GNH-USA ambassadors, drew more than 150 participants from all over the U.S. and more than a dozen countries including Brazil, South Africa, Bhutan, Canada, Denmark, Singapore and Bangladesh, including many members of the U.S. Society for Ecological Economics.

Visit for more information.

Where in the World Will Our Energy Come From?

ARB Chairs Seminar Series: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1:30 pm PST (WEBCAST)

We are pleased to announce the next Series topic: “Global Energy Perspective: Where in the World Will Our Energy Come From?” with Nathan S. Lewis, Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 1:30 pm PST. It will be held in the Sierra Hearing Room, 2nd Floor, Cal/EPA Building , 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California.

For more information about the webcast click here. For “internal” users please check the internal webcast calendar. For “external” users please check the external webcast calendar. For your added convenience, while viewing the webcast, presentations can be downloaded here.

Webcast Viewers, email your questions to: Your email questions will be aired during the question & answer period following the presentations.

For more information on this Seminar and Series please contact: Peter Mathews at (916) 323-8711 or

To receive notices for upcoming Seminars please go to: and sign up for the seminars list serve.

The Ecology of a Hot Planet

Dr. Bill Schlesinger, noted ecologist and President of The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies will kick off the spring National Climate Seminar series with a talk on “The Ecology of a Hot Planet.” How will species and ecosystems survive on a year 2100 earth that could be 3-6 degrees C hotter? How can large-scale extinctions be avoided? Join us for this engaging discussion, 3PM Eastern Time, Wednesday, 1/27.

The following week on 2/3, call-in to hear physicist turned journalist, Joe Romm. In the wake of the Senate election in MA,  Kerry, Lieberman and Graham are still pushing for a bill this year.  Romm will talk on “Senate Action: Yes or No?”

Call in number for both calls is 712-432-3100; conference code, 253385. Send advance questions for the speakers to

Following the talk, stay on the call to discuss what we all can do now to impact the debate in Washington. One very important step:  help us organize Let’s Talk, a state-wide conference call with your Senators’ DC environmental policy team, for later this spring. Our first calls—with Senate Staff from the offices of Bayh, Stabenow, and Levin—will be held in mid-February.

These are not lobbying calls, but rather educational dialogues.  Students need to understand the positions held by their representatives. And senators need to know that thousands of young people in their states are looking to them to act with moral responsibility to all life on earth.

Our staff will do all the logistical work—contact Senate staff to set up the calls, solicit the questions, manage the call. We need your help in volunteering to convene a call in your state, or just in getting the word out. To learn more, give me a call at 845-758-7067, or e-mail us at

NCSE Panel on “Building Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Ecological Economics”

The January 20-22, 2010 annual meeting of the National Council for Science and the Environment hosted a panel discussion on “Building Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Ecological Economics”.  The panel was organized by Rob Dietz, Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy, and included the following discussants:

  • Brian Czech, Visiting Professor of Ecological Economics, Virginia Tech University
  • Jon Erickson, Professor and Managing Director, Gund Institute of Ecological Economics, University of Vermont
  • Chris Stratton, Course Developer and Instructor of Ecological Economics, University of Oregon
  • Kevin Horan, Course Developer and Instructor of Ecological Economics, University of Oregon

The field of ecological economics provides the foundational model for the transition to a new green economy – an economy characterized by sustainable scale, fair distribution of wealth, and efficient allocation of resources.  The International Society for Ecological Economics and its regional offshoots provide an academic hub for ecological economists who have been building the case for a transition to a different sort of economy for several decades.  Even with such a solid foundation, very few university programs are providing a curriculum in ecological economics (notable exceptions in the U.S. include the University of Vermont, University of Maryland, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and California State University at Stanislaus).  Training a new generation of students in ecological economics is a necessary component of the transition to a green economy, and universities can benefit from the experiences of programs that have already been developed.

The purpose of the workshop was to explain how to build undergraduate and graduate programs in ecological economics.  Workshop participants explored two basic models for building such programs:  (1) constructing a full-scale ecological economics program with several degree options, and (2) developing a collaborative program within a department of natural or social science.  Discussants and participants addressed program elements, course content, successes in program development, and pitfalls to avoid.

Spring National Climate Seminar Lineup

The National Climate Seminar is back with a great spring line-up! On 1/27, join noted ecologist Dr. Bill Schlesinger on “The Ecology of a Hotter Planet”.  The following week, on 2/3, physicist turned journalist Joe Romm will focus on  “Senate Action: Yes or No?”. Later in the term: Kristen Sheerhan on “Economics and Climate Equity”; NWF’s Larry Schweiger on his new book, “Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth”; Clif Bar Sustainability Director Elysa Hammond, journalist Ross Gelbspan; and yes, even, The Yes Men.

Calls are usually the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 3 PM eastern; more details here.  Send questions in advance to

In the meantime, remember that you can help us organize statewide conference calls with your US Senate offices this spring. We need to get 500 people on the line each from Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada and 46 other states—to have a real conversation with Senate staff about the urgent need for action on climate. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy will do all the work setting up the calls, but we need your help getting the word out. To learn what you can do, give me a call at 845-758-8067, or e-mail us at

Jeffrey D. Sachs Student Lecture

On Tuesday, November 17, 2009 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, The Earth Institute invites you to attend the annual Sachs Student Lecture with Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute at Columbia University; Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University. The lecture, titled "Choices for America’s Economic Future," will be held in the Roone Arledge Auditorium of Alfred Lerner Hall on Columbia’s Morningside campus.

Choices for America’s Economic Future
Jeffrey D. Sachs
Director, The Earth Institute; Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management, Columbia University

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Alfred Lerner Hall,
Roone Alredge Auditorium

This event is free and open to the public.

To register, please go to

Contact: Office of Academic and Research Programs

The annual Sachs Student Lecture is sponsored by the Earth Institute’s Office of Academic and Research Programs.

Contact: Columbia Univ. School of Int’l & Public Affairs, 420 West 118th Street, New York, NY 10027

Second International Conference

Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity

25-28 March 2010, Barcelona, Spain

Call for abstracts


(Español abajo, Français ci-dessous, Català a baix)

The second international conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity is planned towards the end of March 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. It is organised by the Institute of Science and Environmental Technology (ICTA), Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona (, and the organization Research & Degrowth ( The conference follows the one held in Paris in April 2008 (proceedings available at

We invite you to submit abstracts of 400 words to the email by 30 November 2009.

The conference focuses on “socially sustainable economic degrowth”, and links economic, environmental and social perspectives, with an emphasis on practical policies and concrete proposals. Papers accepted will be presented as posters at the conference and included in the published conference proceedings. A list of the best papers will be selected by the scientific committee and included in special issues to be published in scientific journals. A special issue with papers from the 1st conference is under publication at the Journal of Cleaner Production.

The Barcelona conference will have a special set-up, the focus being on intensive workshops where groups of participants will discuss specific policy proposals and research priorities. Selected speakers will also give plenary speeches. The conference will mainly take place in English, and translation will be limited. More information about the conference is available at

Please forward this call to your networks. We would also be interested in contacts of people who wish to receive information on the conference. More precise information on venue and program will soon be available.

Please send abstracts with title, author(s), affiliation and address in word or open office without formatting or tabulation, named in the following way: nameofauthor_titleofpaper__degrowthconference.

We look forwards to your contributions!

Francois Schneider, Giorgos Kallis, Joan Martinez-Alier, Marta Conde

For more information click here.

Elinor Ostrom breaks Nobel mould

The economics profession needs to be shaken up. Ostrom’s Nobel prize should encourage us to take a fresh approach

Kevin Gallagher,
Tuesday 13 October 2009 17.00 BST

The economics profession is in such disarray that one of the Nobel prizes in economics this year went to political scientist Elinor Ostrom – the first woman to be awarded the economics prize. This is an excellent choice (in any year) not only because of what Ostrom has contributed to social theory but also because of how she goes about her work.

In a nutshell, Ostrom won the Nobel prize for showing that privatising natural resources is not the route to halting environmental degradation.

In most economics classes the environment is usually taught as being the victim of the “tragedy of the commons”. If one assumes, like many economists do, that individuals are ruthlessly selfish individuals, and you put those individuals onto a commonly owned resource, the resource will eventually be destroyed. The solution: privatise the commons. Everyone will have ownership of small parcels and treat that parcel better than when they shared it.

Many environmental experts also reject the tragedy of the commons argument and say the government should step in.

Ostrom says the government may not be the best allocator of public resources either. Often governments are seen as illegitimate, or their rules cannot be enforced. Indeed, Ostrom’s life work looking at forests, lakes, groundwater basins and fisheries shows that the commons can be an opportunity for communities themselves to manage a resource.

In her classic work Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Ostrom shows that under certain conditions, when communities are given the right to self-organise they can democratically govern themselves to preserve the environment.

At the policy level, Ostrom’s findings give credence to the many indigenous and peasant movements across the developing world where people are trying to govern the land they have managed for centuries but run into conflict with governments and global corporations. Some economists on the frontier of their discipline have started to use Ostrom’s insights in their work. In their recent book Reclaiming Nature: Environmental Justice and Ecological Restoration, James Boyce, Liz Stanton and Sunita Narain, show how communities in Brazil, India, West Africa and even in the United States have managed their resources in a sustainable manner when given their rightful access to their assets.

Indeed, Boyce and his collaborators find that communities should be paid for their services, since they can sometimes do a far better job than government or corporations at managing resources. Indeed, “payment for environmental services” has become a buzzword in development circles. Now even the World Bank has a fund for PES schemes across the world.

In terms of methodology, Ostrom proves her findings three times over. As opposed to many economists who never leave the blackboard, Ostrom often conducts satellite analyses of resource depletion to measure amounts of degradation. Second, she actually goes out into the field and performs case studies of human and ecological behaviour all across the world. However, she doesn’t stop there. When she gets back from her fieldwork she conducts behavioural experiments to see if random subjects replicate her findings in the field.

The Nobel committee should be applauded for recognising such rigorous theoretical and empirical work. Shining light on Ostrom is a call to economists to spend a lot more time analysing human behaviour, rather than assuming that we are all rational selfish individuals. It is also a call on economists to become more empirical and to find ways to validate their theories.

Adopting Ostrom’s approach will not only help us forge a better relationship with the natural environment, but will help us become more realistic about the economy in general. It’s time for a fresh approach to both. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009
Visit The Guardian and see other Gallagher columns:
For more on GDAE’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program:

Ostrom & Williamson win Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 2009

Elinor Ostrom

Co-Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences 2009

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA

“for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons”

Oliver E. Williamson

Co-Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences 2009

University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

“for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm”

For more information you can check out the Nobel Prize website or the New York Times article by Louis Uchitelle.