Fairfield University's annual Earth Day lecture to be delivered by renowned ecologist and economist Robert Costanza, Ph. D., of the University of Vermont


Image: Robert CostanzaFairfield University's annual Earth Day lecture will be delivered by renowned ecologist and economist Robert Costanza, Ph. D., a world leader in helping humanity understand the many environmental and economic benefits that healthy ecosystems provide. Dr. Costanza, the Gund Professor of Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont and director of the University's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, will deliver a talk entitled, "The Opportunities for Real Solutions Presented by the Current Global Recession." His work has been cited in thousands of scientific articles and reports on his research have appeared in major publications, including "Science," "Nature," "The New York Times," "National Geographic," "Newsweek," "U.S. News and World Report," "The Economist," and on National Public Radio.

The event, free and open to the public, will take place on Thursday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. in The Kelley Center, on the Fairfield campus. It is sponsored by Fairfield University's Program on the Environment. David Downie, Ph. D., director of the Program on the Environment and associate professor of Politics, said, "Robert Costanza's work is critically important to understanding why we need to protect the environment and promote sustainable development - and how we can do so effectively."

Dr. Costanza's research focuses on the interface between ecological and economic systems. In the article, "Toward a new sustainable economy," published last month in "Real-World Economics Review," he wrote the long-term solution to the financial crisis requires a "redesign of our entire society." "We can break our addiction to fossil fuels, over-consumption, and the current economic model and create a more sustainable and desirable future that focuses on quality of life rather than merely quantity of consumption. It will not be easy; it will require a new vision, new measures, and new institutions."

Dina Franceschi, Ph. D., associate professor of economics, said, "Professor Costanza has been instrumental in enabling the conversation between scientists and policy makers to be more productive over the years. It is ever critical that lawmakers understand the science that underlies our ecological systems and for scientists to understand what makes the most dominant species on the planet - humans - tick. The body of work this man has produced is nothing short of extraordinary."

Some of his best known books include: "Ecological Economics: The Science and Management of  Sustainability," (Columbia University Press, 1991); "Ecosystem Health: New Goals for Environmental Management" (with Bryan Norton and Ben Haskell, Island Press, 1992); "Getting Down to Earth: Practical Applications of Ecological Economics" (with Olman Segura and Juan Martinez-Alier, Island Press, 1996); and "The Local Politics of Global Sustainability" (with Tom Prugh and Herman Daly, Island Press, 2000).

His research involves landscape level spatial simulation modeling; analysis of energy and material flows through economic and ecological systems; valuation of ecosystem services, biodiversity, and natural capital; and analysis of dysfunctional incentive systems and the ways to correct them.

Prior to teaching at the University of Vermont, Dr. Costanza was director of the University of Maryland Institute for Ecological Economics, and a professor at the University's Center for Environmental Science and in the Biology Department. He is co-founder and past-president of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) and was chief editor of the Society's journal, "Ecological Economics," from its inception until 2002. He currently serves on the editorial board of eight international academic journals. He is past president of the International Society for Ecosystem Health. In 1982, he was selected as a Kellogg National Fellow. In 1992, he was awarded the Society for Conservation Biology Distinguished Achievement Award, and in 1993 he was selected as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment. In 1998, he was awarded the Kenneth Boulding Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions in Ecological Economics. He received his Ph.D. in systems ecology, with a minor in economics, from the University of Florida.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 9, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 294