Unity College President Stephen Mulkey to Offer Climate Change Presentation at Thornton Academy on April 29

By Unity College | Apr 08, 2013
Unity College President Stephen Mulkey


Unity, Maine –  The window to salvage a livable planet is fast closing.  Global climate change is severe, undeniable, and one of the greatest threats facing mankind.

One of the most ardent voices sounding the alarm about the severity of global climate change, internationally recognized scientist and Unity College President Stephen Mulkey, will offer a presentation entitled “Sustainability: a 21st Century Educational Mission” at Thornton Academy.

The 7 p.m. presentation in The Atrium on the campus of Thornton Academy, 438 Main Street, Saco, Maine, is free and open to the general public.

Mulkey’s visit is part of Thornton Academy's Lloyd Hunt Lecture Series. Upon the retirement of Hunt in 2010, the faculty and staff established a lecture series, funded by friends and colleagues, to honor his legacy and passion for teaching. This biennial event brings notable individuals to Thornton Academy to share their expertise with the student body and the community at large.

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 global issues such as the mitigation of climate change, energy production, and declining agricultural production, as a central focus touching all aspects of the College.

“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 comprehensive presentation 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.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including its focus on sustainability science; its ground-breaking “green” innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and for being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.

Founded in 1811 and located in Saco, Maine, Thornton Academy is one of the nation’s oldest independent schools and one of the oldest public-private partnerships in the country. Thornton Academy offers a rigorous and broad-based program of academic, arts, and athletic opportunities that challenges middle and high school students to reach their potential in readiness for lifelong learning and productive participation in our dynamic world. For more information, visit www.thorntonacademy.org or call 207-282-3361.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education which emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.


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