WMU News

Expert talks about creating a 'greenprint' for the world

April 8, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- It comes down to intentions versus consequences when thinking about the environmental problems the world faces.

That's the opinion of an expert on campus "greening" projects who will visit Western Michigan University this month. Dr. David Orr, chairperson of environmental studies at Oberlin College, will visit the campus to talk about the "Nature of Design: Creating a Greenprint for a World We Want," at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17, in Room 2000 of Schneider Hall. The lecture is part of the Environmental Studies Sustainability Series and was made possible through a grant from the Wege Foundation of Grand Rapids, Mich. The event is free and open to the public.

"In Dr. Orr's view, many of our actions constitute design failures because we have not properly related human intentions to their ecological consequences," says Dr. Harold Glasser, associate professor of environmental studies. "His humor, sarcasm and biting wit make for a compelling plea for understanding our biophysical limits, and the need to design within nature."

The term, "greenprint" was first coined by WMU alumnus and nationally known environmentalist Huey Johnson. It refers to a broad, integrated strategy for translating environmental sustainability into action and policy plans at the state or national level.

Orr is known for his pioneering work in campus greening projects. From 1996 to 1999 he led an effort to design and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, a structure described by the New York Times as "the most remarkable of a new generation of college buildings." He is the author of numerous books and articles about ecological design and was the recipient of the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Achievement Award.

Peter Melvin Wege established the Wege Foundation in 1967. The foundation has worked to create initiatives and support innovative work that reflects its founder's passionate conviction that "Education is the key to our survival as a civilization. As evolved humans, we must provide the brain power, technology, and new ways of thinking to save both our human and natural resources." Over the years, the foundation has primarily served West Michigan and the Grand Rapids community in three crucial areas: the environment, secular and religious education, and health care and community development.

Media contact: Matt Gerard, 269 387-8400, matthew.gerard@wmich.edu

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