Hilton Chair to speak about environmentalism

Jared Raney

The Helen LeBaron Hilton Endowed Chair is an honor granted by the College of Human Sciences each year to a visionary in a field of interest for the current times. This year the position was awarded to Paul Wapner, professor of global environmental politics at American University in Washington. Wapner will give a lecture called “Environmentalism without Nature” at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union.

Robert Bosselman, chairman of this year’s planning committee, described Wapner and his work as as “a visionary in the topic of sustainability.”

The endowed chairmanship encompasses a two-part effort by the chosen individual. One week during both the fall and spring semesters, Wapner, in his own words, will visit Iowa State to “develop sustained relationships … points of intellectual contact … [and] identify links between faculty.”

Wapner holds a Ph.D. and master’s in politics from Princeton University, as well as an master’s in political science from the University of Chicago. In addition, Wapner has studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Colorado.

Wapner is the author of two books, the most recent of which is “Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism,” which focuses on the problems facing the environmental movement and is the basis for his work as the Hilton Chair.

A main concern facing the environmental movement, Wapner believes, is the focus on dividing nature from human influence. Wapner also believes that in order to survive, environmentalists must “redefine what it means to protect nature … [and] recognize we have to accept the effect humans have.”

Wapner calls for environmentalists to stop trying to simply protect nature but to “go beyond the divide” and find a way to solve problems, what Wapner calls a “more of a pivot than a transformation” for the environmental movement.