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Climate Activist Kick-Starts Environmental Lecture Series

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As world leaders prepare for the upcoming United Nations climate change summit in Paris in December, the School of International Service (SIS) will host renowned environmentalist Bill McKibben on Friday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m., to share his thoughts on the potential success of the December meetings.

McKibben’s speech, “The Road Through Paris: On the Frontlines of the Climate Justice Movement,” will serve as the inaugural lecture of the Nancy Weiser Ignatius Lectureship on the Environment, which was announced earlier this year and seeks to highlight critical environmental issues. The annual lecture series was endowed by Paul Ignatius and Nancy Weiser Ignatius, alongside relatives and friends of the couple.

Dean James Goldgeier invites SIS students, alumni and friends to the inaugural 2015 Nancy Weiser Ignatius Lecture on the Environment on Friday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m., in the SIS Atrium. The lecture will be followed by a reception. Register for the lecture here.

McKibben is a founder of, a grassroots climate change movement, which has organized thousands of rallies worldwide in support of environmental issues. He is a leader in the fossil fuel divestment movement and has staunchly opposed the Keystone Pipeline XL. Not one to shy away from civil disobedience, McKibben was arrested last week for protesting outside of a Vermont ExxonMobil gas station, arguing that company scientists had denied a link between fossil fuels and global warming for years.

A highly regarded figure in the environmental movement for decades, McKibben received the Right Livelihood Award in 2014 – an international honor sometimes referred to as the “alternative Nobel.” His 1989 book The End of Nature is widely regarded as the first book written for general audiences that warned about climate change; to date it has been published in 24 languages.

The Nancy Weiser Ignatius Lectureship on the Environment honors the work of SIS alumna Nancy Weiser Ignatius, SIS/MA ’69, an activist who championed environmental causes long before they became mainstream practices. More than four decades ago, Ignatius co-founded Concern Inc., an organization designed to educate consumers about the environment. Concern encouraged manufacturers to develop product containers that were less harmful to the environment. Additionally, the organization created ecological shopping lists called “Eco-Tips,” according to a 1972 article in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. As Ignatius explained in 1972, the Eco-Tips and other organizational initiatives were meant to “utilize the vast woman power of this country to help solve environmental problems.”

The Ignatius family has long been active in Washington. Paul Robert Ignatius, husband of Nancy Weiser Ignatius, served as Secretary of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of Defense, and president of The Washington Post.

Although this environmental lectureship is still “green” to SIS, Friday’s inaugural lecture promises to be the first of many at the School of International Service that will feature senior policymakers and leaders in the nonprofit and private sectors who are working tirelessly to improve the environment around the world.

Register for the lecture here.

Learn more about the lecture here.

Read the announcement of the Nancy Weiser Ignatius Lectureship on the Environment.

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