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Future Talk on Future Cities: MMC To Host Alex Steffen for Commoner Lecture

  • Alex Steffen
Alex Steffen is the thinking-person’s optimist. His inspiring, provocative talks about our future pack houses around the world. Whether explaining humanity’s best solutions (in Worldchanging), imagining the opportunities to be found in climate-neutral cities (in Carbon Zero), or sharing breakthrough insights into the powerful forces now driving worldwide change (in the forthcoming Planetary), Steffen, as The New York Times states, “lays out the blueprint for a successful century.”

Steffen will visit MMC to give the third annual Barry Commoner Lecture on the Environment on Thursday, March 13, 2014 (Honors Day) from 2:30-3:30pm in the Theresa Lang Theatre.  The title of his talk is, “Carbon Zero: Imagining Cities That Can Save the Planet.”

About the talk

Cities are the answer to climate change, energy challenges and resource scarcity. How we grow our cities, how we choose to get around in them, how we provide housing, how well we incorporate nature into the places we live– these are the challenges that will largely determine our future… and the future of the planet. Steffen tackles the latest successful urban innovations and looks at how quality of life is actually improved in the process of retrofitting our cities for the seemingly impossible, yet surprisingly practical, goal of carbon neutrality.

About the speaker

Steffen has a rare ability to connect planetary thinking to our most practical concerns, and his lively, engaging talks have wowed hundreds of audiences with their combination of practical sense, visionary insight and humor. From the stage of the TED Conference to boardrooms of leading corporations to lecture halls in some of the world’s most prestigious universities, Steffen has shown a remarkable talent for helping audiences understand the role of world-changing ideas and trends in their own lives and work.

From 2003-2010, Steffen built his track record as a visionary by leading the pioneering website Worldchanging.com. Under his guidance, the solutions-based magazine became the second-largest sustainability site on the planet. Its 12,000 articles won many of the Web’s highest honors, including being a 2008 Webby Official Honoree and a winner of the Utne Independent Press Award.

Steffen’s first Worldchanging book was an international best-seller; Al Gore remarks in his introduction to the book, “Taken together, these solutions present a picture of a future that is not dark or catastrophic, but one that is full of hope and within our grasp.” Steffen’s Worldchanging 2.0, a monumental anthology focusing on cities and urban issues, garnered further critical acclaim. His latest book, Carbon Zero, has been hailed as “a breakthrough,” a “deep and inspiring manual for imagining how our cities can become the solution to our climate woes” and a vision of how to “survive and even thrive in the face of a planetary challenge that political leaders… have been reluctant to face.”

Steffen has been named to numerous lists of leading innovators and has served as an adviser to more than 100 NGOs and businesses, exploring “bright green” strategies to help them thrive in a complex and turbulent future. He is currently Planetary Futurist in Residence at IDEO. “The really shocking truth for most of us isn’t how bad things are,” says Alex Steffen, “it’s how good things can get.”


For more information, contact Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Katie LeBesco