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Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

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SEMINAR – Competing Visions of Sustainability: Scarcity or Abundance?

September 14, 2015 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

| Free

SPEAKER: Bill Sheehan, Founder, UPSTREAM Policy Institute

*See below a list of suggested readings to accompany this seminar.

Sustainability is a master term used by all parties who are concerned with climate change and related global ecological and social “wicked problems.” But sustainability has different historical and cultural meanings that grew out of contrasting worldviews of scarcity and abundance. Applying the frames of scarcity and abundance to the fields of resource conservation and waste management is useful for understanding current efforts and movements to foster sustainable production and consumption. Specifically scarcity and abundance provide a framework for comparing the Circular Economy and New Economy movements, among others. This presentation will examine competing worldviews underlying solutions-oriented approaches to achieving a sustainable materials economy.

Dr. Bill Sheehan is a biologist who has focused on environmental policy for the past two decades. He has been at the forefront of two sustainability movements. In the mid-1990s Bill helped launch and lead the civic movement for Zero Waste as co-founder and executive director of the GrassRoots Recycling Network. In 2003 he founded UPSTREAM (originally as the Product Policy Institute) which lead the policy movement for Extended Producer Responsibility in the United States. Bill helped local government officials in eight states form independent Product Stewardship Councils to work for state producer responsibility legislation — Councils that played a role in passing many of the 60-plus state EPR laws adopted since 2004.

Bill holds a Ph.D. in ecology from Cornell University and held research positions at the University of California at Berkeley and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service before turning to environmental policy. He lives with his wife and two cats in Athens, Georgia. In July he visited his daughter in the Peace Corps in Indonesia, and he’s passionate about photography and mushrooms.

Suggested Readings:

  • Leopold, Aldo. The River of the Mother of God: And Other Essays by Aldo Leopold. 1991. (384p) FPBC
  • Merchant, Carolyn. Reinventing Eden: the Fate of Nature in Western Culture. 2003. (320p) FPBC
  • Moore, Kathleen Dean. The Pine Island Paradox: Making Connections in a Disconnected World. 2005. (272p) FPBC
  • Pearce, Fred. Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff. 2009. (288 p)
  • Phillips, Dana. The Truth of Ecology: Nature, Culture, and Literature in America. 2003. (320p) FPBC
  • Stager, Curt. Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth. 2011. (284p)
  • Ward, Chip. Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West. 2001. (256p) FPBK

FPBC=Fields Pond Book Club List


September 14, 2015
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


107 Norman Smith Hall
Mitchell Center - UMaine
Orono, ME 04469 United States
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Mitchell Center
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