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11 October 2012
9:15 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Grand Challenges Consortia hosted a symposium on October 11, 2012 to address the tremendous scope of transformations now occurring on the Earth with profound effects on plants, animals, and natural habitats. Geologists have proposed the term Anthropocene, or “Age of Man”, for this new period in the history of the planet. The symposium focused on the arrival and impact of this new era through the lenses of science, history, art, culture, philosophy, and economics, and promoted discussion, debate, and deliberation on these issues of change.
Keynote speakers included Charles C. Mann, journalist and author of 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created; Sabine O’Hara, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, & Environmental Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia; Richard Alley, Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University; and photographer and filmmaker Chris Jordan. Each of these presentations were followed by responses from an interdisciplinary panel of scholars to foster a wide-ranging discussion of the issues. A summation of the day’s discussion was provided by The Honorable Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, former Congressman and Senator from Colorado.