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University Lectures announces 2012-13 season

April 26, 2012

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Six distinguished guests will share their diverse global experiences and perspectives with the Syracuse University and Central New York communities this fall and next spring as part of the 2012-13 University Lectures series.

Guests during the fall 2012 semester will include Bill McKibben, environmentalist, author and founder of; Ron Brownstein, political director of Atlantic Media Company and editorial director and columnist for the National Journal; and Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition and Public Health at New York University and author of “Food Politics” and “What to Eat.”

During the spring 2013 semester, the guests will be David Henry Hwang, Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter, author of “M. Butterfly”; Jim Richardson, photographer for National Geographic; and Conor Grennan, founder of Next Generation Nepal and author of “Little Princes: Changing the World through Volunteering and Storytelling.”

“Now in our 12th season, the University Lectures will continue the tradition of bringing to Syracuse University people who, through their experiences and with their talents, inspire us to be thoughtful about our own potential to contribute to global communities,” says Kal Alston, senior vice president for human capital development and director of The University Lectures series. “Each lecture is an opportunity for the University’s students, faculty and staff to join with members of the larger Central New York community in a shared learning experience.”

All lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel and are free and open to the public. Sign language interpretation and CART is available for all lectures. The 2012-13 schedule is:

Bill McKibben
Environmentalist, author and founder of
“350: The Most Important Number in the World”
Wednesday, Oct. 10

mckibbenMcKibben is one of America’s best known environmentalists. He has written books that have shaped public perception—and public action—on climate change, alternative energy and the need for more localized economies. McKibben is the founder of, a global grassroots climate change initiative that organized thousands of events in most of the world’s nations on Oct. 24, 2009. McKibben’s seminal books include “The End of Nature” (Random House, 2006), widely seen as the first book on climate change for a general audience, and “Deep Economy” (St. Martin's Griffin, 2008), a bold challenge to move beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and to pursue prosperity in a more local direction—an idea that is the cornerstone of much sustainability discourse today. A former New Yorker staff writer and Guggenheim Fellow, he writes for various magazines, including Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, National Geographic and The New York Review of Books. In 2007, McKibben founded to demand that Congress curb carbon emissions that would cut global warming pollution 80 percent by 2050. On April 14, 2007, as part of the effort, McKibben helped lead more than 1,000 demonstrations across all 50 states. It was described as the largest day of protest against climate change in the nation’s history. In his University Lectures presentation, McKibben will describe the science of climate change. He will also talk about the inspiring global movement that he's led to help change the world's understanding of its peril and to spur the reforms necessary to get the planet back to safety.

Ron Brownstein
Political director of Atlantic Media Co., editorial director and columnist for the National Journal
“American Politics, Today and Tomorrow”
Tuesday, Oct. 23

brownsteinNoted political analyst and Pulitzer Prize finalist Brownstein will explore the state of each party today and what’s next for America’s major political parties. He will also combine an assessment of the electoral environment with an analysis of the challenges that await the new or incumbent U.S. president. Brownstein is a senior political and election analyst for CNN and ABC. He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize twice, for his coverage of the 1996 and 2004 presidential elections. He appears regularly in the Atlantic, National Journal and the Los Angeles Times, where he served as national political correspondent and columnist. He also served as chief political correspondent and columnist for U.S. News and World Report. He is author or editor of six books, including, “The Power and The Glitter: The Hollywood-Washington Connection" and "Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival” (co-authored with Dan Balz). “Washington and Polarized America” was named one of “ten books to curl up with” for 2007 by the New York Times. His articles on politics, public policy, books and culture have also appeared in a number of newspapers and magazines.

Marion Nestle
Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition and Public Health at New York University and author of “Food Politics” and “What to Eat”
“Food Politics from Farm to Table: A Recipe for Change”
Tuesday, Nov. 13

nestleNestle is a consumer activist, nutritionist, award-winning author and academic who specializes in the politics of food and dietary choice. Her research examines scientific, economic and social influences on food choice and obesity, with an emphasis on the role of food marketing. Her books explore issues like the effects of food production on food safety, our environment, access to food and nutrition. She is the author of “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health” (University of California Press, 2002). Her book, “What to Eat” (North Point Press, 2006) was named as one of’s top 10 books of 2006 (Health, Mind, and Body). Her current book project, “Why Calories Count: from Science to Politics” (University of California Press), was published in March. Nestle was senior nutrition policy adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services and managing editor of the 1988 Surgeon General’s Report on Nutrition and Health. She has been a member of the FDA Food Advisory Committee and Science Board, the USDA/DHHS Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and American Cancer Society committees that issue dietary guidelines for cancer prevention. Her research focuses on how science and society influence dietary advice and practice. She writes the “Food Matters” column for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs daily at

David Henry Hwang
Tony Award-winning playwright and screenwriter, author of “M. Butterfly”
“The Fluidity of Identity: Theatre and the Search for Self”
Tuesday, March 5, 2013

hwangThroughout his career, playwright Hwang has explored the complexities of forging Eastern and Western cultures in a contemporary America. He is best known as the author of “M. Butterfly,” which ran for two years on Broadway, won the 1988 Tony, Drama Desk, John Gassner and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and was also a finalist for the 1989 Pulitzer Prize. He is also author of the award-winning plays “Golden Child” and “Yellow Face” and several books for award-winning musicals. According to Opera News, Hwang is America’s most-produced living opera librettist.

His newest play was “Chinglish,” a comedy about an American businessman in China. He is also executive producer of the feature film “White Frog,” which is currently in production. Hwang has been awarded numerous grants, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the PEW Charitable Trust. From 1994-2001, Hwang served by appointment of President Clinton on the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He has also been honored with the 2012 William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award.

Jim Richardson
National Geographic photographer
“Our Vanishing Night: Light Pollution”
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

richardsonRichardson is a photographer for National Geographic Magazine and a contributing editor of its sister publication, TRAVELER magazine. Richardson has photographed more than 25 stories for National Geographic. His work takes him around the world, from the tops of volcanic peaks to below the surface of swamps and wetlands. ABC News' "Nightline" produced a story about the long process of assembling a National Geographic coverage by following Richardson in the field and at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. In addition to his color photography, Richardson has built a distinguished body of black-and-white documentary work about rural Kansas life. His audiovisual presentation, “Reflections from a Wide Spot in the Road,” has toured internationally. A 22-page story about his 30 years of photographing life in the north central Kansas town of Cuba, population 230, was published in National Geographic and featured twice by CBS News' "Sunday Morning," most recently in May 2004. His 1979 study of adolescence, “High School USA,” is now considered a photo essay classic and is used in college classrooms. Richardson speaks nationally and internationally. He lives in Lindsborg, Kan., where his work is featured at his gallery, Small World.

Conor Grennan
Founder of Next Generation Nepal
“Little Princes: Changing the World through Volunteering and Storytelling”
Thursday, April 4, 2013

grennanGrennan spent eight years at the EastWest Institute (EWI), both in Prague and the EU Office in Brussels. During that time, he developed and managed a wide variety of projects focusing on issues such as peace and reconciliation in the Balkans and harmonizing anti-trafficking policy. In 2001, he was made deputy director of EWI’s Program on Security and Good Governance, and served as the advisor on EU Affairs to EWI’s Worldwide Security Program. Grennan left EWI in 2004 on an around-the-world trip, during which he volunteered in the Little Princes Children’s Home in the village of Godawari, Nepal. When he learned that the children in the home were not orphans, but were in fact trafficked, he moved to Kathmandu, Nepal, and founded Next Generation Nepal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reconnecting trafficked children with their families. Grennan is a citizen of both the U.S. and Ireland and a graduate of the University of Virginia and the NYU Stern School of Business. He is the president of Next Generation Nepal and the author of “Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal” (William Morrow, 2010).

University Lectures is a cross-disciplinary lecture series that brings to the University individuals of exceptional accomplishment. The series is supported by the generosity of the University’s Trustees, alumni and friends. The lectures are free and open to the public.

The Office of University Lectures welcomes suggestions for future speakers. To recommend a speaker, or to obtain additional information about the University Lectures series, contact Esther Gray in the Office of Academic Affairs at 443-2941 or More information can be found at the University Lectures website, or on Facebook at!/universitylectures.

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