Center for the Environment Distinguished Lecture Series to feature talks on biodiversity conservation

February 17, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Center for the Environment Distinguished Lecture Series, created to help students, faculty and the public more effectively understand the human condition, will feature two prominent figures in the New Conservation debate.

The two lectures, which are co-sponsored by the Center for the Environment in Discovery Park and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, will present competing perspectives on protecting biodiversity in a changing world, with a focus on jointly maximizing the benefits of conservation for people and biodiversity.

Michael Soulé, professor emeritus of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. His lecture is titled "Can We Protect Inconvenient Predators Like Sharks and Wolves?"

Peter Karieva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, will speak at 7 p.m. March 11 in the North Ballroom of the Purdue Memorial Union. His talk is titled "Why We Need and How We Can Have Vibrant Nature in a World of 10 Billion People."

Both events are free and open to the public. There will be opportunities to meet with both speakers prior to and after their lectures.

Michael Soule

Michael Soulé 
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"Getting Drs. Soulé and Karieva here within a two-week period is a unique opportunity to hear both sides of a prominent environmental controversy," said Leigh Raymond, director of the Center for the Environment.

"Soulé takes a more traditional approach to protecting these species and ecosystems by trying to isolate them from human society, while Karieva is a proponent of the idea that we can find ways for human society to expand and interact with these species while still protecting them.”

Soulé was a founder of the Society for Conservation Biology and The Wildlands Project and has been the president for both. He has written and edited nine books on biology, conservation biology, and the social and policy context of conservation.

"Until about 10,000 years ago, the rate at which new species evolved was in balance with the extinction rate," Soulé said. "Now, humanity has destroyed that balance. To restore it requires that we boldly face our human and corporate natures."

Peter Karieva

Peter Karieva 
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Karieva spent more than 20 years in academics and worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He has authored over 100 scientific articles and was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010 for his excellence in original scientific research.

"A more positive future exists if conservation can change its tactics, be less rigid in its objectives and be more about 'how' as opposed to 'no,' " Karieva said. "Instead of resisting change, we need research and innovation that promotes creativity in the face of change­­­­­­ - just as evolution itself does."

The Center for the Environment serves to better connect faculty and students across departments and disciplines, strengthen support for innovative projects, and increase the impact of Purdue's work on important environmental issues. The Discovery Park center promotes campus sustainability activities and is part of Purdue's Global Sustainability Institute.

The Department of Forestry and Natural Resources seeks to develop and disseminate knowledge associated with the protection, management, and sustainable use of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. 

Writers: Emily Sigg,

Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Source: Leigh Raymond, 765-430-3651, 

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