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Sustainability Speaker Series |


The Sustainability Speaker Series provides opportunities to learn from and engage with experts and thought leaders immersed in the global movement for a sustainability transformation.  Speakers present on issues addressing one or more of the four pillars of a sustainable world: nature, economy, society, and individual and collective wellbeing.

The purpose of the Sustainability Speaker Series is to raise important issues to spark further conversation, investigation, and action.  The Sustainability Speaker Series is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and collaborating units across the university.

Sustainability Speaker Series logo

Spring 2023-24 Speaker: Dr. Jonathan Foley

This Sustainability Speaker Series event is cosponsored by Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and the Office of Sustainability. Dr. Foley’s presented on Monday, March 18th, 2024, in the Langdon Hall Auditorium at Auburn University starting at 7:00 PM. The event was comprised of lecture followed by a Q&A with the attendees.

Learn more about Jonathan Foley, Ph.D.

Jonathan Foley, Ph.D., Executive Director of Project Drawdown, is a world-renowned environmental scientist, sustainability expert, author, and public speaker. His work focuses on understanding our changing planet and finding new solutions to sustain the climate, ecosystems, and natural resources we all depend on. 

Dr. Foley will present on the innovative initiative Project Drawdown, whose mission is to help the world stop climate change as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible.  Project Drawdown identifies solutions and strategies for stopping climate change, engages all sectors of society to bring climate solutions to scale, and works to shift the conversation from doom and gloom to possibility and opportunity.  Almost every solution identified by Project Drawdown is regenerative development that has the potential to create millions of jobs.  Project Drawdown proves we can stop global warming and draw down greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to form a more sustainable world. 

Fall 2023-24 Speaker: Catherine Coleman Flowers

We, alongside the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work, hosted Catherine Coleman Flowers with the support of our cosponsors: the Academic Sustainability Program, Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, college of Liberal Arts Inclusive Excellence, the Department of History, and the University Outreach & Public Service. The event was comprised of lecture followed by a Q&A with the attendees.

Learn more about Catherine Coleman Flowers

Catherine Coleman Flowers is an environmental and climate justice activist bringing attention to problems of inadequate sanitation in rural communities across the United States, with a special focus on rural Black Belt communities in Alabama. Founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ), Flowers has spent her career promoting equal access to clean water, air, sanitation, and soil to reduce health and economic disparities in marginalized, rural communities. In addition, Flowers serves as Rural Development Manager for Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), is a Board Member for the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Climate Reality Project and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Flowers is also Co-Chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on Accelerating Climate Action and Practitioner in Residence at Duke University. 

In 2021, her leadership and fervor in fighting for solutions to these issues led her to one of her most notable appointments yet — Vice Chair of the Biden Administration’s inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. Flowers was also named Levenick Resident Scholar in Sustainable Leadership at the University of Illinois for the spring 2021 and was awarded an honorary PhD in science from Wesleyan University. 

As the author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, Flowers shares her inspiring story of advocacy, from childhood to environmental justice champion. She discusses sanitation and its correlation with systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice that affects people across the United States. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Guardian, and on PBS. 

2022-23 Speakers: Dr. Ford Dyke and Olympian Reita Clanton

The 2023 Sustainability Speaker Series: Your Journey to Health and Wellbeing was born from conversations with Auburn University leaders seeking to support Auburn employees’ wellbeing. We hosted Dr. Ford Dyke and Olympian Reita Clanton with the support of our cosponsors: Campus Recreation and Wellness, Human Resources, and the Office of the Provost. The series was comprised of a Kick-Off Presentation followed by in-person seminars and virtual check-ins for each of the five pillars: respiration, hydration, nutrition, movement, and recovery.

Dr. Ford Dyke is an Associate Clinical Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University. He teaches courses in Pillars of Performance and Health, Motor Learning and Performance, and Performance-Based Psychology. As Director of Mindfulness @ Auburn, Dr. Dyke integrates components of his Professorship, Team USA Athlete career, and experience as the Performance Coach for the Auburn University Wheelchair Basketball Team. Among his accomplishments, he is the recipient of the 2019 Undergraduate Teaching Award, the 2022 Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and the 2022 Alumni Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Faculty Award.

Learn more about Reita, Ford, and Mindfulness @ Auburn.

Olympian Reita Clanton is the Coordinator of Performance and Health Optimization in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University. Clanton teaches Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and co-facilitates Mindfulness @ Auburn. Notably, Clanton is a 1984 Team USA Olympian, 1997 inductee into the Auburn University Tiger Trail, and 2010 inductee into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Reita and Ford facilitated this evidence-based program thus guiding and empowering employees to develop along their journey to health and wellbeing.

2019-20 Speaker: Katherine Hayhoe

The Auburn community welcomed Dr. Katharine Hayhoe to campus in February 2020.  Dr. Hayhoe’s primary efforts stem from her role as an atmospheric scientist who studies climate change, which is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. But Katharine may be best-known to many people because of how she’s bridging the gap between scientists and some segments of the Christian community— work she does in part because she’s a Christian herself. She’s been named by Christianity Today as one of their 50 Women to Watch and currently hosts the PBS digital series, Global Weirding: Climate, Politics and Religion. She will be presenting her talk: “Faith, Climate Change, and Our Culture in the U.S.” for the 2020 Sustainability Speaker Series.

Katharine Hayhoe Photo Credit: Artie Limmer, Texas Tech University

Photo credit: Artie Limmer, Texas Tech University

Due to her remarkable communications skills, Katharine has received the American Geophysical Union’s climate communication prize, the Stephen Schneider Climate Communication award, and been named to a number of lists including Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Thinkers, and FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders.

Katharine has served as lead author on the Second, Third, and Fourth National Climate Assessments. She also serves on advisory committees for a broad range of organizations including the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, the Earth Science Women’s Network, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Katharine is currently a professor and directs the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She has a B.Sc. in Physics from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Illinois. You can learn more about Katharine on her webpage, Katharine Hayhoe: Climate Scientist.

The 2020 Sustainability Speaker Series is co-organized by the Office of Sustainability and the Department of Geosciences with support from the College of Agriculture and Academic Sustainability Programs.

2018-19 Speaker: Heather Hackman

Dr. Heather Hackman visited Auburn in February 2019 to present her talk: “Finding Common Cause: Sustainability through a Social Justice Lens.”  In addition, Dr. Hackman conducted a series of workshops on inclusion and diversity for various campus units.

Photo of Heather HackmanDr. Hackman has been teaching and training on social justice issues since 1992 and was a professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota for 12 years before she began focusing full time on consulting. She has taught courses in social justice and multicultural education, race and racism, heterosexism and homophobia, social justice education, oppression and social change, sexism and gender oppression, class oppression, and Jewish oppression.

She received her doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2000 and has taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Westfield State College, Springfield College, St Cloud State University, Hamline University, and the University of St Thomas. In 2005 she founded Hackman Consulting group and consults nationally on issues of deep diversity, equity and social justice and has focused most of her recent training work on issues of racism and white privilege, gender oppression, heterosexism and homophobia, and classism.

She has published in the area of social justice education theory and practice, racism in health care (with Stephen Nelson), and is currently working a book examining issue of race, racism and whiteness in education through a model she calls “cellular wisdom”. In 2009, she was awarded a Research Fellowship with the Great Place to Work Institute and has developed corporate training rubrics that combine her social justice content with GPTWI’s “trust” frameworks. She has sat on the board of Minnesota NAME as president, the board of Rainbow Families, has served on numerous committees committed to multicultural and social justice work, and since 2012 has served as a member of the Advisory Council for the White Privilege Conference.

Her most recent research and conference presentations have focused on climate change and its intersections with issues of race, class and gender.

2017-18 Speaker: Colonel Mark 'Puck' Mykleby, USMC (Ret)

We welcomed Colonel Mykleby to campus in February 2018 for a series of classroom visits and his main evening talk: “How can elevating sustainability promote America’s greatness & enhance national prosperity & security at home & abroad?”

Colonel Mykleby is the Co-Founder of Long Haul Capital Group, LLC; a company dedicated to creating sustainable, walkable, and healthy communities. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1987 and served as a Marine fighter pilot through 2006. From June 2007 until July 2009, he developed strategy at US Special Operations Command. From July 2009 until April 2011, he served as a special strategic assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mark retired from the Marine Corps in August 2011. From August 2011 to September 2014, Mark was a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC and from September 2014 until February 2017 he was Co-Director of the Strategic Innovation Lab at Case Western Reserve University. While at Case Western, he, along with Joel Makower and Patrick Doherty, co-authored “The New Grand Strategy”, which was released in June 2016.