Florida Gulf Coast University and the Earth Charter

The event provided faculty, staff, students, and the local community with the opportunity to interact with some of the leading thinkers in the world working toward a just, humane, and sustainable Earth. On Friday, February, 20, 2009, on the campus of FGCU and then on Sanibel Island, two Rachel Carson Distinguished Lectures were held entitled “Working on Behalf of the Beauty and Bounty of Earth: An Earth Charter Scholars’ Panel.” The first lecture featured Steven C. Rockefeller, Kiran Chhokar, Brandon Hollingshead, Brendan Mackey, Michael Slaby, and Shafía Sucar Succar, and was moderated by Mary Evelyn Tucker.
Immediately after this lecture, senior administrators from Florida Gulf Coast University, including President Wilson G. Bradshaw, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Toll, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Donna Henry signed an Affiliate Agreement with the Earth Charter. For the Earth Charter office, Steven C. Rockefeller and Brendan Mackey, co-Chairs of the Earth Charter Council, and Mirian Vilela, Director of the Earth Charter International Secretariat, signed the document. The Affiliate agreement provides a direct connection between the work of the university and the Earth Charter.

In the afternoon, FGCU hosted the Earth Charter Scholars for a series of workshops. Steven C. Rockefeller spoke on “Human Rights and the Earth Charter”; Mary Evelyn Tucker and Michael Slaby spoke on “Faith Traditions, Spirituality, Religion and the Earth Charter”; Shafia Sucar Succar, Kiran Chhokar, and Rick Clugston spoke on “Earth Charter and Higher Education Including the Possibilities in the FGCU Curriculum”; Brendan Mackey spoke on “The Earth Charter and Climate Change”; and Mirian Vilela and Brandon Hollingshead spoke on “Framing the Earth Charter for University Students: Colloquium and Beyond.” The morning lecture was attended by approximately 140 people; each of the afternoon workshops was attended by 15-30 people.

In the evening, the venue shifted to nearby Sanibel Island for the second of the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lectures. The evening lecture featured Steven C. Rockefeller and Mary Evelyn Tucker, moderated by David W. Orr. The event was attended by about 150 people.

Two other activities marked the weekend celebration. The Earth Charter Scholars who were in attendance met to advance Earth Charter scholarship, developing a bibliography of Earth Charter materials and developing a guide for teaching with the Earth Charter. In addition, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education held its Fifth Annual Fundraising Celebration at the home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer with brief remarks by Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr who are co-Chairs of the Center’s Board of Advisors.