Every year, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, an Earth Charter endorser since 2001, hosts its Earth Charter Community Summit, a week of events on sustainability issues related to the Earth Charter. This year, Earth Charter International and the Sustainability Office at UW Oshkosh co-organized a hybrid live/virtual event with three expert speakers on sustainability, ethics, the Earth Charter, and Aldo Leopold. The event was attended by approximately 25 participants in a lecture hall in Wisconsin, while another 20 participants joined through ECI’s online platform.
The speakers were UW Oshkosh’s Jim Feldman, a professor of Environmental Studies, Clare Palmer, a professor of Philosophy and ethics expert, and Curt Meine, a Senior Fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Center for Humans and Nature, as well as a biographer of Aldo Leopold. All three speakers prepared slides, which you can download at the bottom of the page, and spoke about the Earth Charter, Aldo Leopold, and ethics from different perspectives.
Jim Feldman, in the context of the webinar as well as the local context spoke about the UW Oshkosh commitment to sustainability and the Earth Charter values. He related many of the initiatives that the campus is undertaking and he also spoke to the deteriorating legacy of Leopold, John Muir, and Gaylord Nelson in the state of Wisconsin. Clare Palmer deepened the discussion about ethical perspectives, tracing lines of values from Leopold to the Earth Charter and citing the specific advances the Earth Charter made in redefining sustainability from the original definition provided in the 1987 Brundtland Report. Curt Meine’s presentation expanded the discussion on the evolution of ethics further, offering a fascinating history lesson in the evolution of sustainability ethics, from the early 19th Century’s Alexander von Humboldt, through Marsh, Roosevelt, the founding of the UN, Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic, Rachel Carson, the environmental movement, to modern sustainability thought.
The aftermath of these compelling presentations was a vibrant discussion in the question and answer period. The panelists fielded questions from both the live and the virtual participants and it was clear that the participants were hungry for practical measures while understanding the great importance of values and ethics discussions.
The event was a great success and profited from having both a local and an international virtual audience, made possible by modern communication technologies. The dispersed global audience united by the common goal of making the world a better place was evocative of the slogan of EC+15, “One Earth Community, One Common Destiny”.
ECI thanks UW Oshkosh and all the speakers for making this special event possible.
Download the slides below.