30 Great Public-friendly University Lecture Series on Environmental Issues

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A frequently overlooked value of your local college or university is the opportunity to take in a free lecture on a topic of interest to you. Participants in these types of series have access to the best of the best among public speakers, whether scholars, authors, experts, or politicians.

Related: 50 Best Value Small Colleges for a Biology Degree

This article highlights lecture series on the environment and related issues at colleges and universities in North America. To make our list, publicity for the lecture series had to emphasize that they were easily accessible to the local community. This may have included comments about free admission, all being welcome, late afternoon or evening hours, no registration required, accessible language, socially relevant topics, or a unified theme for the entire lecture series, making it easier for participants to find which schools are lecturing on their topic of interest.

30. Paul Smith’s College, The College of the Adirondacks

Paul Smiths, NY

North Country Sustainability Speaker Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Solar design, small-scale hydro
Recent speakers: Jeff Brownson, Associate Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering, Penn State
Frequency: Several per year

29. Brown College, University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Visiting Environmental Writers and Scholars Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Farm markets, hunting as conservation, young environmentalists
Recent speakers: Forrest Pritchard, author and farmer; Jackson Landers, author and hunting guide; Emily Hunter, environmental author and daughter of Greenpeace founder, Robert Hunter
Frequency: Several per year

28. University of Toronto, School of the Environment

Toronto, Ontario

Environment Seminar Series

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Recent subjects: Climate change, environmental movement, pollution
Recent speakers: Kerry Bowman, Bioethicist, Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto; Matthew Hoffmann, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto Scarborough and Co-Director of the Environmental Governance Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs; Dan Dolderman, Lecturer, Environmental Psychologist, Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
Frequency: Several per semester

27. University of Connecticut, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Storrs, CT

Edwin Way Teale Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Food systems, oceans
Recent speakers: Harold Mooney, Professor of Biology, Emeritus, and Senior Fellow, 
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University; Steven D. Gaines, Dean, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California – Santa Barbara
Frequency: Several per year

26. University of Waterloo, Faculty of Environment

Waterloo, Ontario

Environment Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Global dimming, climate change
Recent Speakers: Vanessa Schweizer, Centre for Knowledge Integration; Chris Fletcher, Department of Geography and Environmental Management
Frequency: Once per semester

25. Western Washington University, Huxley College of the Environment

Bellingham, WA

Huxley College Speaker Series

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Recent subjects: Water pollution, water conservation
Recent Speakers: Vicki Robin, bestselling author; Gregory Fisk, Geographer, Woods Hole Research Center
Frequency: Weekly

24. University of Nebraska – Lincoln, School of Natural Resources

Lincoln, NE

Winter Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Climate change – deforestation, desertification
Recent Speakers: Eileen Shea, Chief of the Climate Services Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Adriana Moreira, Senior Environmental Specialist at the World Bank in Brasilia, Brazil; Melchiade Bukuru, Chief of UNCCD Liaison office, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Frequency: Several times per semester

23. Arizona State University, Global Institute of Sustainability

Tempe, AZ

Wrigley Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Organic farming, environmental justice, species multiplication
Recent speakers: Vandana Shiva, Founder, Slow Food International; Ray Mabus, Secretary of the U. S. Navy; Amory Lovins, Confounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Frequency: Several times per semester

22. University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation

Missoula, MT

Wilderness Institute Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Wilderness borders, water, expeditions, indigenous populations
Recent speakers: Pat Williams, former Montana Congressman; Thomas Tidwell, Chief of the U. S. Forest Service
Frequency: Several times per spring semester

21. Menno Simons College

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Esau Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Sustainable agriculture, world hunger
Recent speakers: Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Chair and Professor of International Development Studies, Trent University; Nettie Wiebe, Professor of Church and Society, University of Saskatchewan
Frequency: Several times per year

20. University of Maryland, Council on the Environment

College Park, MD

Distinguished Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Food scarcity
Recent speakers: Lester Brown, President, Earth Policy Institute
Frequency: Annual

19. Colorado College, Environmental Program

Colorado Springs, CO

Linneman Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Water conservation, environmental economics
Recent speakers: Winona LaDuke, Dan Chiras, Andrew Fahlund
Frequency: Annual

18. University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

Philadelphia, PA

Institute for Environmental Studies Seminar Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Sustainability in commercial packaging, federal government, and aviation
Recent speakers: Sara Manzano-Diaz, Regional Administrator, Mid-Atlantic Region, U.S. General Services Administration; Brad A. Molotsky, EVP and General Counsel LEED Green Associate, Brandywine Realty Trust; Tucker Twitmyer, Managing Director, EnerTech Capital
Frequency: Several per year

17. Stony Brook University, Department of Ecology and Evolution

Stony Brook, NY

The Living World Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Ocean ecology, shale gas
Recent speakers: David Jablonski, Professor of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago; Jeffrey Levinton, Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University
Frequency: Several per year

16. Dalhousie University, College of Sustainability

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Environment, Sustainability and Society Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Consumerism, indigenous populations, hazardous substances
Recent speakers: Bruce Lanphear, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University; Brad Werner, Scientist, Climate, Atmospheric Sciences and Physical Oceanography Division, University of California, San Diego
Frequency: Weekly

15. Whitman College, Environmental Studies Program

Walla Walla, WA

Perspectives on Sustainability Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Sustainable landscaping, conservation
Recent speakers: Faculty
Frequency: Several per year

14. UCLA, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability

Los Angeles, CA

Oppenheim Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Climate change, urban water
Recent speakers: Lisa Jackson, Vice President, Environmental Initiatives, Apple; Allan Jones, Chief Development Officer, Energy and Climate Change, City of Sydney
Frequency: Three times per year

13. Harvard University, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

Cambridge, MA

Water Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Various topics related to water
Recent speakers: Daniel P. Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Harvard University
Frequency: Annual

12. University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

Burlington, VT

Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Paths to leadership in Vermont conservation, sustainable transportation, climate change
Recent speakers: Tracey Tsugawa, Civil Rights Investigator, Vermont Human Rights Commission; Michael C. Snyder, Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources; Chapin Spencer, Director of Public Works, City of Burlington
Frequency: Weekly

11. Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment

Durham, NC

Ferguson Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Tiger ecology, global warming, energy efficiency
Recent speakers: Ullas Karath, conservation scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society; Al Gore, former Vice-President of the U. S.
Frequency: Annual

10. University of Texas at Austin, President’s Sustainability Steering Committee

Austin, TX

Sustainability Lecture

Website

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Recent subjects: Economic viability of sustainability
Recent speakers: Bill McKibben, David Spence
Frequency: Annual

9. Princeton University, Princeton Environmental Institute

Princeton, NJ

Taplin Environmental Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Environmental ethics, federal land use
Recent speakers: Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator; Ralph Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences
Frequency: Annual

8. Green Mountain College

Poultney, VT

Sustainability Speaker Series

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Recent subjects: Permaculture, urban ecology, animal testing
Recent speakers: Andrew Gunther, Program Director, Animal Welfare Approved; Janisse Ray, writer, naturalist, and activist
Frequency: Several per semester

7. Oregon State University

Corvallis, OR

Starker Lecture Series

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Recent subjects: Diverse topics in forestry management
Recent speakers: Tom Spies, Research Forester, USDA Forest Service; John Gordon, Pinchot Professor Emeritus and Former Dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; Paige Fischer, Research Social Scientist, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center and PNW Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Prineville, OR
Frequency: Several times per year

6. University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH

Climate Commitment 101 Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Carbon footprint, water sustainability, urban ecology
Recent speakers: Adrian Parr, Associate Professor & UNESCO Co-Chair of Water Access & Sustainability; Jennifer Eismeier,
Executive Director,
Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities
Frequency: Several times per semester

5. University of Wisconsin – Madison, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Madison, WI

Jordahl Lectures

Website

University-of-Wisconsin

Recent subjects: Environmental history, ethics, national parks
Recent speakers: William Cronon, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Terry Tempest Williams, University of Utah
Frequency: Annual

4. Yale University, Center for Industrial Ecology

New Haven, CT

Industrial Environmental Management Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Various topics on business and the environment
Recent speakers: Includes leaders in the environmental industry
Frequency: At least four per year

3. University of Michigan, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Ann Arbor, MI

Smith Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Geology, volcanoes, carbon dioxide and ozone
Recent speakers: Whitey Hagadorn, Denver Museum of Nature and Science; Gordon Brown, Stanford University
Frequency: Weekly

2. University of Alberta, Department of Renewable Resources

Edmonton, Alberta

Renewable Resources Seminar Series

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Recent subjects: Oil sands, wildfires, wetlands
Recent speakers: Lee Foote, Director and Professor, Devonian Botanic Gardens, University of Alberta; Jon Fennell, Principal Hydrogeologist and V.P. Geosciences and Water Security, Integrated Sustainability Consultants Ltd., Calgary, AB
Frequency: Weekly

1. Ashland University, Environmental Science Program

Ashland, OH

Environmental Lecture Series

Website

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Recent subjects: Urban ecology, chemical pollution, Latin American environmentalism
Recent speakers: Kendra McSweeney, Associate Professor of Geography, Ohio State University; Geoffrey Dabelko, Professor and Director, Ohio University Voinovich School Environmental Studies program
Frequency: Several times per year

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