Sustainability, new ideas take center stage at conference

A four-day global conference titled “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization” will be held on Thursday, June 4 through Sunday, June 7 at Bridges Auditorium. The event runs all day each day, beginning at 9 a.m.

This inaugural event of the Pando Populus organization will feature up to 1,000 presenters in over 80 areas of specialty. Plenery speakers include Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Sheri Liao, Wes Jackson, Herman Daly and John B. Cobb, Jr.

The conference is organized around the idea that there is an alternative to modern industrial life, and that in order to avoid catastrophic conditions we must seize an alternative way of thinking and living. That “alternative” is an ecological worldview.

For many years, pockets of activity have organized to reduce climate change, save endangered species, limit ocean acidification, curb poverty, cap the influence of financial markets, bring about democratic accountability, reduce militarism, etc. What the founders of Pando Populus and like-minded thinkers believe is missing is a new paradigm that integrates these various concerns and activities and sets them in the context of a broader vision.

Mr. McKibben is an environmental activist and best-selling author of such books as “Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet” and “Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist.” Ms. Shiva is also a fierce advocate for the environment and an opponent of globalization who has authored books like “Making Peace with Earth” and “Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.”

Ms. Liao is an activist, journalist and documentary producer whose works are credited with advancing the Chinese environmental movement. Featured as one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment” in 2009, she promotes a life of harmony through reduced consumption and decreased use of harmful practices in daily lives.

Mr. Jackson is founder of The Land Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture based in Salina, Kansas. The Institute’s goal is to develop an agricultural system based on perennial crops that “has the ecological stability of the prairie and grain yield comparable to that from annual crops.”

The author of books like “Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications,” Mr. Daly was senior economist in the environmental department of the World Bank, where he helped develop policy guidelines related to sustainable development.

Mr. Cobb is an American theologian, philosopher and environmentalist who cofounded Claremont’s Center for Process Studies as well as Pando Populus, a nonprofit that aims to create “an ecological civilization.” He has authored more than 50 books, including the groundbreaking 1971 work “Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology,” which argued for the relevance of religious thought in approaching the environmental crisis. Mr. Cobb is also founder and president of the Institute for Postmodern Development of China.

Seizing an Alternative” unites the 10th International Whitehead Conference and the 9th International Conference on Ecological Civilization.  

Fees range from $29 to $300.

Bridges Auditorium is located at Pomona College, 450 N. College Way in Claremont. To register and learn more about the conference, visit

—Sarah Torribio


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