President's Sustainability Lecture

October 2022

"Designing the Unfractured Future: Thoughts on Pipelines and Plastic in an Age of Climate Emergency"

Wednesday, October 5th | 2:30 PM College Union Ballroom

Sandra Steingraber, PhD is an American activist, biologist, author, senior scientist, and cancer survivor. She was born in 1959 in Tazewell Country, Illinois, United States. Steingraber nowadays spends time writing and lecturing about environmental factors contributing to reproductive health problems and the ways cancer is linked with the air, water, and food we get in contact with.

She devoted her life’s work to understanding which chemical pollutants in our environment endanger our health and well-being. Sandra is an international anti-fracking activist and biologist who fights for the environmental protection of all living beings and sees this as our basic human right.

During her researches, she started studying Rachel Carson, who she considers her “guiding spirit.” In 1997 she wrote the book Living Downstream, in which she assesses the connection between environment and cancer. In this book, she claims that although we cannot change our genetic inheritance, we still can do a lot about reducing human exposure to carcinogens that can be found in our natural homes.

This book is the basis for a documentary by The People’s Picture Company, in which Steingraber’s struggles as a cancer survivor get portrayed. The documentary also reflects on her contributions as an ecologist and cancer prevention spokesperson, and activist.

In March of  2013, Steingraber was part of the protest that blocked the Inergy natural gas facility entrance. She protested the industrialization of the Finger Lakes and was arrested alongside nine other protestors. Steingraber refused to pay a fine and served ten days in the Chemung County jail before she was released.

In 2014 she participated in the civil disobedience campaign where she was arrested again, this time for trespassing and blocking a chemical truck at the gates of Crestwood Midstream (formerly Inergy). She was sentenced to fifteen and served eight days in the Chemung County jail.

In 2017 documentary Unfractured got released, in which the main subject was Sandra Steingraber and her struggles and fights as an outspoken activist. She is a winner of numerous awards and honors and nowadays lives in Trumansburg, New York, with her husband Jeff de Castro and their two children.



Past Speakers

2021: Farhana Sultana

 Dr. Farhana Sultana is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary scholar whose work spans the topics of nature-society relationships, political ecology, water governance, climate change, post-colonial development, sustainability, social and environmental justice, transnational feminism, citizenship, human rights, and decolonizing academia. Author of several dozen publications, her recent books are “The Right to Water: Politics, Governance and Social Struggles” (2012), “Eating, Drinking: Surviving” (2016) and “Water Politics: Governance, Justice, and the Right to Water” (2020). Farhana was the Chair and Organizer of the highly successful international conference on 'The Right to Water' in 2010.

2020: Gayle Schueller, PhD, '87

Gayle Schueller ('87), a Physicist and Executive Business Leader, is the Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for 3M.  Gayle started in 3M’s corporate laboratory as a product development engineer and has over 25 years of technical and business leadership experience. Her career spans a broad range of businesses from electronics to healthcare to consumer industries. She has led technical and business teams from around the world including Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America.  Gayle’s previous assignments include Vice President of New Platforms for Growth and Commercialization, Directora General for 3M Mexico, Vice President for Global Sustainability, and Vice President of Research & Development and Design for 3M’s Consumer and Office Business.   She is passionate about making a positive impact in the world through science and technology.  

Gayle Schueller delivered "Business for the Greater Good" on September 30, 2020 at 2:30 pm virtually on zoom webinar.  The recorded event can be seen to the left

2019: Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist and author working on issues of Indigenous Economics, Food and Energy Policy. She co-founded Honor the Earth with the Indigo Girls, as a platform to raise awareness of and money for indigenous struggles for environmental justice. Globally and nationally, Winona is known as a leader in the issues of cultural-based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy, and sustainable food systems. She is one of the leaders in the work of protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.

Winona LaDuke will deliver "Economics of the Seventh Generation" on October 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm in the Doty Recital Hall.  The lecture is part of the College’s activities for Campus Sustainability Month, an international celebration of sustainability in higher education.

2018: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

 Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a leader in the indigenous environmental activist community, will deliver the President’s 2018 Sustainability Lecture. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Martinez will deliver “Roots of Revolution” on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 2:30 p.m. in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom, on the Geneseo campus. The lecture is part of the College’s activities for Campus Sustainability Month, an international celebration of sustainability in higher education.

Martinez is an 18-year-old climate activist and hip-hop artist who is on the front lines of a global youth-led environmental movement. Martinez, who hails from Boulder, CO., has worked locally to prevent pesticides use in parks and to establish a moratorium on fracking in his home state. He is also a plaintiff in a youth-led lawsuit against the federal government for failing to protect the atmosphere for future generations. Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization.

2017: Dr. David O. Carpenter - "Is the human race sustainable after the age of chemicals?"

Dr. David Carpenter, University at Albany

David O. Carpenter is a public health physician who serves as director of the Institute for Health and the Environment, a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization, as well as a professor of environmental health sciences at UAlbany's School of Public Health.

He previously served as Director of the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health, and as Dean of the University at Albany School of Public Health. Carpenter, who received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, has more than 370 peer-reviewed publications, 6 books and 50 reviews and book chapters to his credit.

Fall 2016 - Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, "Can New York State Transition to Renewable Energy Fast Enough?"

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University

The Third Annual President's Sustainability Lecture was on October 5th from 2:30pm - 3:30pm in the College Union Ballroom.  Dr. Anthony Ingraffea discussed the prospects of renewable energy in NY State. Dr.  Ingraffea is a Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and  Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University. A brief reception will follow the talk. All are welcome!

See a video of the talk here: 

Spring 2016 - Bob Musil, "Rachel Carson and Her New York Legacy"

Bob Musil, CEO of the Rachel Carson Council

See photos from the talk here.

Spring 2015 - Joel Reynolds: "The New Environmental Advocacy: Defending the Earth in the 21st Century"

 Joel Reynolds is the Western Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Joel has led campaigns to protect gray whales and salmon fisheries, reduce ocean noise pollution, and protect a quarter million acres of open land in California, among others. He has twice received the California Lawyer of the Year award and received the inaugural Environmental Leadership Award.

Campus Sustainability Month is an international celebration of sustainability in higher education.

Check out the Sustainability Events Calendar for all events