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Why “Environments”?

These are difficult times for educational and cultural institutions increasingly impaired by an epidemic of public disinvestment. Moreover, the last few years have seen the global rise of media markets that traffic in fanciful simplifications, fake news, bigotry and denialism, while dismissing evidence-based knowledge and basic human empathy. But this is also why we see a renewed urgency for the Arts and Humanities to reclaim a position of centrality in public discourse; to weigh in on the big issues of our time, from climate change denial to the rise of fundamentalism and authoritarianism around the world. The Public Humanities provide crucial spaces to help us reimagine, transform, and regenerate our world.

This year’s 3-day Festival will feature talks, music, performances, community debates, and other activities on the theme of “Environments,” focusing on issues of environmental justice and economic sustainability, local and regional activism and planning, and the global climate change crisis.

We hope you will join us for what is guaranteed to be a dynamic conversation between authors, scholars, activists, artists, and the Western New York community – pushing forward our visions for the future through this festival of ideas.

Stay tuned for the announcement of all of this year’s participants!

 

 

image: Global Action Day in Copenhagen. December 2009. america.govhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/americagov/4179185792. Transferred from da.wikipedia to Commons by Thomas81 using CommonsHelper. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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2017 Spotlight Speaker: Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty  thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

OilAndHoney-LowResThe Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”

A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books,National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.

Watch online: Bill McKibben, “The Desperate Climate Fight: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Moment”

WATCH THE VIDEO

The 2017 Buffalo Humanities Festival: Environments brought environmentalist author and social activist Bill McKibben to Buffalo on Friday, Sept. 29, where he gave the talk “The Desperate Climate Fight: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Moment” in the auditorium of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Introductions were provided by David Castillo (Director, UB Humanities Institute), Dean Robin Schulze (UB College of Arts and Sciences), US Congressman Brian Higgins (US House of Representatives, 26th Congressional District).

The Buffalo Humanities Festival is an annual event organized by the UB Humanities Institute in partnership with Buffalo State College, Canisius College, and Niagara University. Additional support is provided by Humanities New York.

Videographer: Thomas Vetter

Click here to view on UBStream.

WBFO’s Jay Moran gets the scoop on the 2017 Buffalo Humanities Festival

wbfo

Buffalo, NY NPR-affiliate WBFO features a couple interviews about the Buffalo Humanities Festival: Environments.

Morning host Jay Moran sat down with UB Humanities Institute Director David Castillo and Executive Director (interim) Kari Winter to discuss this year’s festival. The link includes an interview with festival speaker Adam Rome for a preview of his Saturday talk, “My Walks with Olmsted.”

Click through for the full interviews and article.

http://news.wbfo.org/post/humanities-festival-focusing-climate-change

American Startups Work to Bring Solar Powered Electricity to Parts of Africa

A June 26, 2017 article by Bill McKibben in the New Yorker titled, The Race to Solar-Power Africa explains the reasons why implementing an electric grid on the continent presents a unique challenge. McKibben writes,

“There are about as many people living without electricity today as there were when Thomas Edison lit his first light bulb. More than half are in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe and the Americas are almost fully electrified, and Asia is quickly catching up, but the absolute number of Africans without power remains steady.”

The demand for reliable and accessible electricity has prompted some entrepreneurs in the West to launch solar companies in Africa. It has some advantages over the traditional electric grid infrastructure but comes with its own set of problems relating to the newness of technology being used, engineering challenges, and uncertainty around financial feasibility, both for the consumers and for the companies.