Speakers and Events

We regularly host speakers working on a wide range of critical ecologies topics, often in collaboration with other UB centers and departments. We also hold research workshops, informal get togethers and other events throughout the year.

Hannah Holleman (Amherst College)

No Empires, No Wastelands: The Necessity of Forging a Real Ecological Solidarity for the 21st Century

March 31, 2023 — Co-sponsored with the Departments of Geography and Sociology, and the UB Humanities Institute Science Studies Workshop
AC 170 (Ellicott Complex)
Friday, 3:15 – 5pm

In this lecture, Professor Holleman will discuss the vital lessons we can learn from one of the first global environmental problems of modern capitalism, which reached its apogee in the “dust-bowlification” of agricultural lands in the 1920s and 1930s. Based on award-winning research, Prof. Holleman explains that the regional crises of soil erosion in this period as dramatic and foreseeable manifestations of a global social and ecological emergency generated by the racialized political economy and ecology of white settler colonialism and the new imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She establishes key antecedents to present-day ecological developments and brings the narrative forward to today, explaining the persistent consequences and important lessons of this era for our current struggles to address the planetary challenges of climate change, environmental injustice and racism, and new threats of dust-bowlification. In the end, Prof. Holleman argues, we are confronted with the necessity of breaking with the white man’s burden version of environmentalism and building a deeper ecological solidarity in order to heal the life-threatening, interrelated social and ecological rifts of our day.
Faculty profile

Richard York (University of Oregon)

Energy Transitions and Unintended Consequences

April 22, 2022 — Co-sponsored with the Departments of Geography and Sociology, and the UB Humanities Institute Science Studies Workshop
AC 170 (Ellicott Complex)
Friday, 3:15 – 5pm

Transitioning away from fossil fuels requires the production of energy from non-fossil sources. However, quantitative analyses and historical assessments of previous shifts in energy use indicate that the expansion of non-fossil energy sources – in the absence of direct efforts to suppress fossil fuel extraction and challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry – may not appreciably contribute to a decline in fossil fuel use and may have a variety of unintended consequences. These analyses suggest that a full energy transition to cleaner energy sources requires not only technological developments but changes in economic structures and political power relationships.
Faculty profile

Matthew T. Huber (Syracuse University)

Whither the Green New Deal? The Rise and Fall of a Working Class Climate Politics

OCTOBER 13, 2022 — Co-sponsored with the Baldy Center for Law & Social Policy
509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus 
Thursday, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. ET
For Zoom access, register here

In the wake of the election of Donald Trump — alongside eight years of relatively ineffectual climate action during the Obama administration — climate advocates realized we needed a bolder approach to climate policy (or what some called a ‘Medicare for all’-like demand for the climate). By 2018, that framework exploded onto the scene under the banner of a “Green New Deal” (GND) aiming to tackle inequality and climate change with rapid, public-sector-led decarbonization and broad, universal working class gains after decades of austerity and wage stagnation. Yet, by 2020, the GND movement sputtered into disarray. The recently passed “Inflation Reduction Act” might lead to decarbonization, but a Green New Deal it is not. What happened and why? What prospects for a working class climate politics remain? 
Faculty profile