Claims of an untimely end to human existence have persisted for centuries, but recently, a growing awareness of environmental issues has awoken many to the potentially devastating impact of mankind on the planet.

Beth Dykstra

Tomorrow Peter Raven — who has garnered widespread attention for his perspective on biodiversity as a crucial peg in sustaining livable conditions on earth — will speak to the University community about environmental challenges for humanity.

The lecture, “Global Sustainability: Our future, our role,” is being presented through the School of Natural Resources and Environment in cooperation with the Matthaei Botonical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. The goal of the lecture is to bring awareness of the importance of conservation both abroad and at home.

For the talk, Raven will draw on his expertise in biodiversity, the preservation of biodiversity and its role in human health and livelihood.

He will focus on the world’s current environmental condition and on future global conservation challenges. Raven will also discuss the important role of institutions such as the botanical gardens and Nichols Arboretum in addressing global conservation challenges.

While high-profile lectures are common at the University, Raven is unusually well decorated in his field. He has received the United States National Medal of Science, the highest medal awarded for scientific work in the United States.

Amid a host of smaller honors, he has also held a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, informally dubbed the “genius” award. In 1999, Time featured Raven as a “Hero for the planet.”

“Dr. Raven has received just about every environmental award on the planet, and is an authority on many issues related to global sustainability, including planetary extinction of biodiversity, genetically modified organisms and the effect of climate change on biodiversity,” said Rosina Bierbaum, Dean of SNRE.

Though his main focus is botany, Dr. Raven is also an expert on biodiversity and sustainability. Raven earned his reputation when he and colleague Paul Erlich developed the notion of “co-evolution” — a theory stating that different species evolve side-by-side, relying on each other through each stage of evolution and growing increasingly codependent. Acclaimed for his work as director at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Raven is also credited with transforming the gardens into a world-renowned center for botanical research.

The lecture will be held in Hale Auditorium in the Ross School’s Assembly Hall tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. The event is open to all University students and staff, as well as to the public, and will be followed by a reception.


—Naila Moreira contributed to this report.


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