ESS Lecture Series Schedule

Winter 2024 Term

ESS Lecture Series

Since 2010, the College of Sustainability has hosted a weekly ESS (Environment, Sustainability and Society) Lecture Series that is open to the public. Local and international scholars, journalists, social activists, artists, public intellectuals, and elders share their wisdom and experience on wide ranging topics related to environmental sustainability, social justice, Indigenous perspectives, and the impacts of climate crisis.

For several semesters during the COVID pandemic, the lecture series was presented virtually on Zoom. Going forward, the series will be presented in a hybrid format — with most speakers in person in Ondaatje Auditorium in the McCain building as well as livestreaming to Zoom.

Please note: For the Winter 2024 Term, we are presenting a "Best Of" ESS Lecture Series to spotlight some of the excellent guest speakers we have had during past semesters. Unless otherwise noted, all lectures can be accessed as publicly available recordings on the College of Sustainability Winter 2024 Vimeo channel.

Please write to to suggest a future speaker or topic.

Group photo of 80-100 students in Ondaatje Auditorium wearing green "Leading Change" t-shirts.

Week of 15 January 2024 - Renewable Energy and Community Action (from Fall 2014)

Søren Hermansen, Samsø Energy Academy, Denmark

Søren Hermansen has been the driving force behind the transformation of Samsø into a world famous renewable energy island.

Situated in the middle of Denmark, Samsø, an island of 3,800 inhabitants, won a 1997 competition launched by the Danish Ministry of the Environment to select Denmark’s Renewable Energy Island. The effort started with Søren, a former high school environmental studies teacher, who tirelessly explained the benefits of clean energy to the people in his community during countless town meetings. Within ten years, the island succeeded in becoming 100% self-sufficient through renewable energy, and is now exporting its excess wind-powered electricity to the rest of Denmark.

View the recording on Vimeo


Week of 22 January 2024 - What Really Counts: The Case for a Sustainable and Equitable Economy (from Fall 2021)

Ron Colman

Politicians and economists fixate on “growing the economy”—measured by a country’s gross domestic product. But this yardstick counts harmful activities such as greenhouse gas emissions, plastic waste, and cigarette sales as gains, and it ignores environmental protection, voluntary community work, and other benefits. What we measure is a choice, and what is and isn’t counted determines what sorts of policies are enacted.

Ronald Colman's book, What Really Counts (Columbia University Press, 2021) is an essential, firsthand story of the promise and challenges of accounting for social, economic, and environmental benefits and costs. Colman recounts two decades of working with three governments to adopt measures that more accurately and comprehensively assess true progress.

View the recording on Vimeo


Week of 29 January 2024 - A Way of Life: Indigenous Knowledge to Save the World (from Fall 2017)

Dan Longboat

Dan Longboat is a Turtle Clan member of the Mohawk Nation, from the Six Nations of the Grand River. He is a Professor of Indigenous Studies and the Director of the Indigenous Environmental Studies Program (which he designed and developed n 1996) at the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies at Trent University in Peterborough.

Dan has both a Masters and a Ph.D. in environmental Studies from York University where his dissertation The Haudenosaunee Archipelago: The Nature and Necessity of Bio-Cultural Restoration and Revitalization won the Faculty of Graduate Studies prize in 2009.

View the recording on Vimeo


Week of 5 February 2024 - The Security Implications of Climate Change: Instability, Conflict, and Adaptation (from Winter 2018)

Emily Robinson, Halifax Regional Municipality

Emily Robinson is a Defence Scientist and Strategic Analyst with Defence Research and Development Canada in Ottawa. She obtained her BA in Political Science at Mount Allison and an MA in Political Science and Government from Dalhousie.

View the recording on Vimeo


Week of 12 February 2024 - The Politics of Food (from Fall 2014)

Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She trained as a physicist at the University of Punjab, and earned her Ph.D from the University of Western Ontario. Her work centers on issues of bioethics, biodiversity, intellectual property rights, and genetic engineering. She founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology in 1982, which led to the creation of Navdanya in 1991, a national movement for the protection of biological resources, especially native seeds.  

View the recording on Vimeo




Week of 4 March 2024 - A Human Rights-Based Approach to the New Treaty on Plastic Pollution (from Winter 2023)

Marcos Orellana

Marcos A. Orellana is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights. He directs the Global Toxics and Human Rights Project at the American University Washington College of Law and has lectured in various law schools, including Melbourne, George Washington, Pretoria, Geneva, and Guadalajara. His practice as legal advisor has encompassed work with United Nations agencies, governments, and non-governmental organizations where he intervened in cases before several international courts and tribunals.

Professor Orellana has extensive experience working with civil society and Indigenous peoples around the world on issues concerning global environmental justice. He also represented the eight-nation Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean in the negotiations of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

View the recording on Vimeo


Week of 11 March 2024 - Shipping: Challenging Systems and Structures (from Fall 2023)

Danielle Southcott, Chief Executive Officer, Veer Group

Founder of Earthshot Prize-nominated ''Veer Group'' and the award-winning SAILCARGO INC., Danielle Southcott was named by the Royal Institute of Naval Architects as one of the most influential women of the past century, and was listed by The Ocean Opportunity Lab as an inspirational female founder to watch.

Originally from the Great Lakes of Canada, Danielle began sailing at age 13. A graduate of the "Enkhuizer" nautical college, she learned Dutch to graduate. She obtained her 200T masters ticket at the age of 21, which empowered her to be captain of the flagship of Barbados, cargo schooner RUTH. Danielle wrote and implemented the successful beach-launch of RUTH, which was the largest ship built in the history of the country.

View the recording on Vimeo


21 March 2024 7:00 - 8:30 PM AST on ZOOM

Regenerating Our World Through Relationship and Play

Moyo Rainos Mutamba and Rehana Tejpar


The root causes of global crises, such as climate change and escalating conflicts often lie in a deep-seated sense of separation and disconnection. In this participatory lecture, we explore ideas, tools, and practices aimed at healing this pervasive wound of separation and fostering conditions conducive to interconnectedness. 

Contact for the Zoom link.



Week of 25 March 2024 - A Conversation with Elisabeth Kolbert about Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (from Winter 2023)

Elisabeth Kolbert, journalist and author

Elizabeth Kolbert is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer and journalist, author of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future (2021) and The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2014). Elizabeth has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1999, writing dozens of pieces for the magazine, including political profiles (Senator Hillary Clinton, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani), a series on global warming (The Climate of Man) and many others. She was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in March 2021.

Under a White Sky is a meticulously researched and deftly crafted work of journalism that explores some of the biggest challenges of our age. It also manages to be wickedly funny. Some passages read like an absurdist novel by KurtVonnegut or Joseph Heller. As in Cat’s Cradle or Catch-22, humanity is trapped within an ever more vicious circle created by its own skewed logic and techno-dependency. As the author writes early on, this is “a book about people trying to solve problems created by people trying to solve problems”.

View the recording on Vimeo


Week of 1 April 2024 - Civic Engagement: Why Activism, Politics and Community Matter More Than Ever (from Winter 2017)

Megan Leslie, VP Oceans, World Wildlife Fund Canada; Former MP for Halifax, NS.

Megan Leslie served for two terms as the federal Member of Parliament for Halifax and as the NDP environment critic. In 2015 she accepted the position as VP Oceans with World Wildlife Fund of Canada, contributing on their five-year plan. Megan has a long history of community engagement, social justice advocacy and tireless collaboration on health, environmental and poverty issues. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Political Thought and History and a Certificate in Refugee and Migration Studies, both from York University and a law degree from Dalhousie.

View the recording on Vimeo



For more information contact:

Debra Ross                                                     
Manager of Outreach, Partnerships and Communications