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Explore the Ethics Surrounding Species Extinction, and the Link between Biological and Cultural Recovery at Forum 2014

Adriana Reyneri

(847) 835-6829, direct

Event Date: 
Friday, May 2, 2014
Release Date: 
Wednesday, September 25, 2013

GLENCOE, Ill. (September 25, 2013) – A full-day symposium exploring the ethical issues surrounding extinction, and the relationship between species loss and cultural destabilization will be held at the Chicago Botanic Garden this spring. “Forum 2014: A Cascade of Loss, an Ethics of Recovery,” a partnered program with the Center for Humans & Nature, will reflect on the centennial anniversary of the death of Martha, the last passenger pigeon. Activities will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Friday, May 2, 2014 at the Garden’s Regenstein Center.

“The Center for Humans and Nature is devoted to the examination of questions that often get scant attention in the popular and even academic media,” said Greg Mueller, vice president of science and academic programs at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “As we go deeper into the sixth great extinction – the first global species loss caused by human activity – what questions do we need to ask and what actions must we take on behalf of future human civilization and the full diversity of species with which we share the earth. The Chicago Botanic Garden, which researches and teaches about the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss, is proud to be the scientific partner and host for this conference.”

“Forum 2014: A Cascade of Loss, an Ethics of Recovery” marks the 100th anniversary

of the death of the last passenger pigeon

with reflections on the intersection of biological and cultural loss."

A full day of of discussion and optional guided activities will allow the general public, students, scientists and conservationists to explore the relationship between species extinction and culture. Participants will also discuss the ethics of species recovery  -- “de-extinction” -- and possibilities for restoring cultural and biological diversity. Speakers include:

  • Curt Meine is a conservation biologist, historian and writer who serves as senior fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation, as well as the Center for Humans and Nature. He’s written several books, including Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work, and is the on-screen guide in the documentary film Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time.
  • Pati Vitt is the Susan and Roger Stone Curator of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank. The conservation scientist studies the reproductive ecology of rare plants, and the effects of climate change on rare plant species. She’s a member of the Fish & Wildlife Service Recovery team, offering expertise on the western prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera praeclara) and prairie bush-clover (Lespedeza leptostachya).  Vitt is an adjunct assistant professor of plant biology and conservation at Northwestern University.
  • Robin Kimmerer, the founding Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. The center works to harness both indigenous and scientific knowledge to achieve shared goals of sustainability. Kimmerer’s writings include Gathering Moss, which earned the John Burroughs Medal for Nature Writing in 2005. She is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.
  • Ben A. Minteer is a senior sustainability scholar in the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, where he serves as Maytag Professor in the School of Life Sciences. Minteer explores the intersection of environmental ethics, ecology and conservation, especially the impact of climate change on our sense of environmental responsibility. Minteer also writes extensively on the history of conservation and environmentalism.
  • Liam Heneghan co-directs the Institute for Nature and Culture at DePaul University, where he serves as professor of environmental science. The ecosystem ecologist, who co-chairs the Chicago Wilderness Science Team, has spent the last decade focusing on restoration issues in the Midwest region.
  •  Stanley A. Temple is a senior fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and is the Beers-Bascom Professor Emeritus in Conservation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has received numerous conservation awards and serves as a fellow with The American Ornithologists’ Union, The Explorer’s Club, The Wildlife Conservation Society and The American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Janisse Ray is a writer, naturalist and activist. Her latest book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, explores the future of food. Ray attempts to live a simple sustainable life with her family on an organic farm in southern Georgia.
  • Allison Sacerdote-Velat is a reintroduction biologist at the Lincoln Park Zoo who works with the Lake County Forest Preserve District to protect smooth green snakes, the Illinois species in greatest need of conservation. She assesses current populations in Northern Illinois and evaluates habitats for green smooth snakes. Sacerdote-Velat has worked previously as a wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the National Park Service and a variety of state wildlife agencies and universities.
  • Jifunza Wright Carter is a family physician who practices holistic integrative medicine and also works as a community health advocate. At the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living, she strives to transform the relationships between people and the planet, and give children the tools and skills they need for the future.

Guided explorations will be offered mid-day by Eric Leonardson, a Chicago-based audio artist, teacher and the president of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology. He’s also founder of the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology, executive director of the World Listening Project, and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Sound at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

To register, go to

A limited number of student scholarships will be provided by the Center for Humans and Nature. Contact Beth Pinargote at for more information.

            The Center for Humans and Nature enlists some of the brightest minds in ethical thinking to explore and promote human responsibilities to nature and the whole community of life. The Center connects people with ideas through events, publications and its award-winning interactive website,


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at

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