Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran traveled to Washington D.C. on November 5, 2009, to participate in "Our Blue Planet, Will it Survive Till Tomorrow? An Environmental Musical." The musical is set in the year 2100 where the people of Earth struggle with the devastating aftermath of climate change. Corcoran gave the opening remarks for the musical, introducing the Earth Charter and setting the tone for the rest of the production. Corcoran reflected on the world's increasing social and ecological fragmentation. The production questions whether people and governments can come together to help save our planet and ensure our future. The musical was presented in five acts and combines Japanese music with the classics of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Gershwin along with traditional Western and Japanese dances. The musical was directed by Professor Emeritus of Seikei University Ryokichi Hirono and features violinist Kiyomitsu Obana, actor/choreographer Toshijiro Zenki, actor/singer Tekkan, and actor Hiroyuki Wantanabe.
In other travels, Peter Blaze gave a lecture entitled "The Urgency of Mainstreaming Sustainability in Higher Education: An Ethical Perspective" on October 20, 2009 as part of Georgia Southern University's 2009-2010 Sustainability Seminar Series. Corcoran used the Earth Charter as the basis of his argument for the importance of ethics in the field of environmental sustainability. The lecture was a great opportunity for the students at GSU to learn more about the Earth Charter and to "realize their own sense of agency [and] their own ability to make a difference." GSU's Lisa Legee, Director of the Center for Sustainability in the College of Science and Technology, was excited to host Corcoran, saying, "It is an incredible privilege to host him here at Georgia Southern University... Corcoran's lecture can help us understand the principles that might lead us to a more sustainable future and help us figure out how to get there." According to Corcoran, "An integrated ethical perspective can point us in the right direction in solving our sustainability problems.... we have an obligation to future generations with regard these."
Lisa Legee and Peter Blaze Corcoran at Georgia Southern University's 2009-2010 Sustainability Seminar Series
Ishmael Beah, author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, returned to FGCU for the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue on November 4, 2009. The Dialogue seeks to raise awareness among Florida Gulf Coast University students and faculty about critical sustainability issues in our region.
In A Long Way Gone, a chronicle of his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone, Beah uses words to create a powerful message of hope in extreme adversity. Incoming FGCU freshmen read A Long Way Gone in 2008 as part of the First Year Experience Readership Project. Beah (third panelist on the right) was also the special guest speaker for the 2008 Convocation.
This year, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education invited him to join a discussion on how young people can communicate and collaborate for a sustainable and peaceful future. The event explored topics such as digital collaboration toward sustainability, critical engagement with consumer media, and the theme of hope, despair, and the future in environmental rhetoric.
Panelists included Arabella Daniels of the Student/Farmworker Alliance, Cruz Salucio of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (immediate right), and Center Advisor Jacob Scott (bottom right). Jacob participated virtually from Bristol, England using telecommunication software. FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw welcomed the panelists and offered opening remarks. The Dialogue took place on Wednesday, November 4, 2009, at 7:00pm in the Student Union Ballroom. Stakeholders, community members, students, and campus leaders congregated outside the Ballroom for conversation and snacks before the event.
The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue is an event for students, by students. The event was free and open to the public. The series focuses on education for a sustainable future, including our role as stewards of our natural, cultural, and political environments. Intended to spark youth action and inspire the intellectual climate among the FGCU and Southwest Florida communities, the initiative fosters an open space for dialogue and student ownership of that dialogue.
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran spoke alongside Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on August 31, 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya. Their keynote address was to an invited audience of one hundred diplomats, United Nations officials, local dignitaries, and scholars from African universities gathered for a "Symposium on Climate Change Education and Sustainable Cities." The symposium was part of the annual meeting of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) which manages the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD).
Maathai urged her audience to bridge the gap between ethical principles and practice, saying, "We know what to do. Why aren't we doing it?" Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, which for nearly thirty years has worked to improve the lives of poor women through a holistic approach to sustainable development. In 2004, she became the first woman from Africa to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai and Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran after their address to the United Nations Inter-Agency Committee for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
The occasion represented a powerful opportunity to elevate the role of the Earth Charter within the Decade and within UNEP. Maathai and Corcoran challenged UNEP and the IAC to adopt the Earth Charter as an organizing principle for the remainder of the Decade. The Earth Charter is an international people's declaration of sixteen ethical principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society. Florida Gulf Coast University is an Affiliate of Earth Charter International.
Wangari Maathai, Peter Blaze Corcoran, and Akpezi Ogbuigwe, head of Environmental Education and Training at the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
In his speech, Corcoran described the Earth Charter's development and recognized Maathai's great contribution to a better future for Africa. "She touches our hearts and minds with her courage, with her commitments to environmental education and self-determination for Africa, and her stubborn hope that governments and intergovernmental agencies will bring about the people's desire for peace through environmental sustainability."