2020 ECU Voyages of Discovery Series to feature environmental theme, experts

East Carolina University’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences soon will launch the 14th season of its signature Voyages of Discovery Series.

“The focus of Voyages this year is on climate, water and the environment, and features three uniquely qualified experts who promise to help us reimagine a better future, both locally and globally,” said Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, director of the series and professor of English.

The series is made possible through contributions from Harriot College’s Dean’s Advancement Council, WITN, Phi Kappa Phi, university organizations and many other friends and supporters. For more information or to contribute, visit Support the Series.

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe (Photo by Artie Limmer, Texas Tech University)

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe

Sept. 17

The season opens Sept. 17 with a virtual, livestreamed event featuring Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, who will discuss “Climate Change: A Threat Multiplier.”

At Texas Tech, Hayhoe is an endowed professor in public policy and public law in the Department of Political Science and co-directs the Climate Center. She received a Bachelor of Science in physics from the University of Toronto, master’s and doctoral degrees in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois, and honorary doctorates from Colgate University and Victoria College at the University of Toronto. She was recognized as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, Fortune’s 50 World’s Greatest Leaders and the United Nations’ Champion of the Earth in Science and Innovation.

“Dr. Hayhoe is a compelling scientist who knows how to engage nonexperts about why people react so differently to climate change and why realizing the bases of those reactions matters,” Johnson said.

Mr. Robert Bilott (Photo courtesy of Keppler Speakers)

Mr. Robert Bilott

Feb. 4

On Feb. 4, 2021, ECU will welcome environmental attorney Mr. Robert Bilott, whose successful lawsuit against DuPont — for its toxic pollution of West Virginia streams — is the basis for the recent film, “Dark Waters,” starring Academy Award-winning actor Mark Ruffalo. Bilott will discuss “Dark Waters: The Story Behind the Environmental Legal Battle Exposing Corporate Coverup.”

Drawing from his book, “Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont,” Bilott is expected to take the audience through the unforgettable legal drama about malice, manipulation and perseverance against the failings of environmental regulation.

“The story of Mr. Bilott’s years-long court battles in protecting everyday people from toxic pollution is truly compelling,” Johnson said.

To date, Bilott, a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, has helped secure more than $1 billion in benefits for his clients exposed to contaminated drinking water. Among his many honors, Bilott was selected as one of the best lawyers in America for several years running, and in 2017, received the Right Livelihood Award, commonly known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”

Dr. Marshall Shepherd (Contributed Photo)

Dr. Marshall Shepherd

March 25

On March 25, the series will conclude with American meteorologist, professor and director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia, Dr. Marshall Shepherd. Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, and former president of the American Meteorological Society, will engage the audience through “Zombies, Sports, and Cola: Implications for Communicating Weather and Climate Science.”

“The title of Dr. Shepherd’s talk reflects this accomplished man, someone with a sense of humor and wider perspective, who enables us to better understand the serious threats to our environment,” Johnson said.

“We want the friends and patrons of Voyages to know — given our focus this year — that we are imposing on ourselves a ‘carbon tax’ in order to offset our speakers’ travel by donating to organizations that put carbon back into the ground,” Johnson said.

The Voyages series will continue its special-access speaker receptions prior to Bilott’s and Shepherd’s evening presentations. Receptions will have limited attendance.

Ticket Information

Individual tickets to receptions and evening events are available through the ECU Central Ticket Office: call 252-328-4788, toll free at 1-800-328-2787 or visit the Voyages ticket website. Individuals requesting accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact 252-737-1018 or ada-coordinator@ecu.ecu at least 48 hours prior to the event. Event dates, times and locations are subject to change.

Each Voyages presentation is free for ECU faculty, staff and students. Tickets are required. Visit the ECU Central Ticket Office in the Main Campus Student Center with a valid ECU 1 Card to receive a free ticket.

Safety Details

In an effort to protect our community and ensure the safety of our friends, supporters, students, faculty and staff, and in accordance with ECU and UNC System guidance, Harriot College will work with campus staff to ensure proper safety precautions for in-person events. Beginning July 1, faculty, staff, students and visitors to campus are expected to wear a face covering within public spaces on campus and at events, including Voyages events.

For additional information, visit the Return of Pirate Nation: Guidelines for Campus Safety.