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Commoner Lecture

The Barry Commoner Lecture on the Environment was established at Marymount Manhattan College through the generosity of Richard S. Berry and Lucy A. Commoner. These gifts have also created The Commoner Fund for Environmental Studies at the College. Barry Commoner was a prominent environmental scientist, widely known as a writer and lecturer on the relationship between environmental and energy problems and public policy.

2023 Commoner Program

Peter Naccarato, Ph.D.
Interim President

Matthew Lundquist, Ph.D.
Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences
Assistant Professor of Biology

In Conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert
with Dr. Lundquist

Reception and Book Signing
Regina Peruggi Room, 2nd Floor, Carson Hall


Speaker Bio
Elizabeth Kolbert has traveled from Alaska to Greenland, and visited top scientists, to get to the heart of the debate over global warming. Her most recent book, Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future, is about humanity’s harmful impact on the environment and ideas to rectify that harm. A national bestseller, Under a White Sky was named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post, Time, Esquire, Smithsonian Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal. It was also recommended by Barack Obama and Bill Gates.

Her previous book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, about mass extinctions that weaves intellectual and natural history with reporting in the field, began as an article in The New Yorker, where she has been a staff reporter since 1999. The Sixth Extinction won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle awards for the best books of 2014. It was also a New York Times 2014 Top Ten Best Book of the Year and is number one on the Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of all time.  In 2019 it was the chosen book for the Chicago Public Library’s One Book, One Chicago program, and was named one of Slate’s 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years. A 10th Anniversary Edition with a new epilogue will be published on February 6, 2024. An edition for children, The Sixth Extinction (young readers adaptation), will be published by Holt/Godwin on November 7, 2023.

Elizabeth is also working on her next book, H Is for Hope: Climate Change from A to Z (Ten Speed Press, March 26, 2024) which grew out of an essay she wrote for the New Yorker.

She has received numerous awards and honors including the National Academy of Sciences Communication Award in the newspaper/magazine category, a Lannan Writing Fellowship, the Heinz Award, a National Magazine Award in the Reviews and Criticism category, the Sierra Club’s David R. Brower Award, the Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union, the Desmond Wettern Award for Best Journalism, the Sam Rose ’58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism, the Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square. She was the 12th Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University and was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Future and Past Commoner Lectures

Elizabeth Kolbert October 20, 2023
On Friday, October 20, Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and journalist Elizabeth Kolbert will deliver the 2023 Barry Commoner Lecture on the Environment.

Dr. Timon McPhearson February 2, 2020
On Tuesday, March 10, Timon McPhearson, Ph.D., Director of the Urban Systems Lab and Associate Professor of Urban Ecology at The New School, will deliver the 2020 Barry Commoner Lecture on the Environment.

Emma J. Rosi, Ph.D. January 18, 2019
On Tuesday, March 12, 2:30-3:30pm, Emma J. Rosi, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, will deliver the 2019 Barry Commoner Lecture on the Environment.