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Press Release

Barbara Laskin

Macalester’s Sixteenth Annual International Roundtable
“Global Environment: The Eleventh Hour?”
October 8 – 10, 2009

September 23, 2009 - St. Paul, Minn. - Macalester College presents its 16th annual International Roundtable titled, “Global Environment: The Eleventh Hour?” Thursday - Saturday, October 8 - 10, 2009, in the Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center, John B. Davis Lecture Hall, Campus Center, 1600 Grand Ave., St. Paul, Minn.

Human life has always been embedded in the material world. The continuing accumulation as well as the current pace of human activities, across geographies and cultures, seems to have brought us to a new threshold in our intimacy with nature. From global temperatures, biodiversity, water, air, and energy, to soil and oceans, there is a sense that we have commenced long overdue and high voltage conversations about existing human systems and our relationship with the environment. This, in a nutshell, captures the critical challenge for human civilization in this new century of heightened globalization.

For some, there is no doubt that we have already entered a time of imminent ecological catastrophe that demands drastic rethinking and actions; for others, the alarm is an exaggeration—one that shortchanges nature’s rhythm of earth’s consistently changing ecology as well as human organizational and technological ingenuity.

With this backdrop, the Roundtable discussions will revolve around the following questions:
• What are the main global environmental concerns for the 21st century?
• What are the crucial forces responsible for the making of these issues and why?
• Are there any alternatives to the current trends and, if affirmative, what are they and how might they be brought forward and acted upon?

This year’s participants include:
• Robert Costanza, University of Vermont Gund Professor of Ecological Economics, whose speech is titled “Creating a Sustainable and Desirable Future.” (4:40 p.m., Thu., Oct. 8).

• Elizabeth Economy, Director of Asia Studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, whose talk is titled “China’s Environmental Challenge.” (9:30 a.m., Fri., Oct. 9).

• Shawn Miller, Brigham Young University History professor, whose talk is titled “Turning the Order of Nature on its Head: The Tropical American Origins of Global Agriculture.” (1:30 p.m., Fri., Oct. 9).

The Roundtable will conclude with a discussion featuring Robert Costanza, Elizabeth Economy, and Shawn Miller. (10 a.m., Sat., Oct. 10).

The Roundtable begins at 4:40 pm, Thu., Oct. 8, with opening remarks by Macalester Pres. Brian Rosenberg and James Wallace Professor and Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship Ahmed I. Samatar.

The Macalester International Roundtable is held every October on campus. A community-wide intellectual forum, the Roundtable explores crucial global issues with prominent international scholars who are also commissioned to write major papers that are presented at Macalester and published in the Macalester International Journal. Previous Roundtables have featured:

• 1994 The International Community and the Emerging World (Dis) Order
• 1995 Literature, the Creative Imagination, and Globalization
• 1996 The Divided Self: Ethnicity, Identity, and Globalization
• 1997 Nature, People, and Globalization
• 1998 Globalization and Economic Space
• 1999 Contending Gods: Religion and the Global Moment
• 2000 International Feminisms: Divergent Perspectives
• 2001 The Body: Meditations on Global Health
• 2002 Prometheus’s Bequest: Technology and Change
• 2003 Complex Contradictions: African, American, and Middle Eastern Perspectives
• 2004 America and Global Power: Empire or . . . ?
• 2005 Quixotic Offspring: The Global Legacy of Don Quixote
• 2006 The United Nations Organization (UNO): What Future?
• 2007 The Musical Imagination in the Epoch of Globalization
• 2008 Whither Development? The Struggle for Livelihood in the Time of Globalization

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,958 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.