Keynote Speaker

A summary of the conference keynote address is now available.

A recording of the conference keynote address is now available.

Adaptive Communities Need Adaptive Minds: Navigating the Psychosocial Challenges of a Planet in Crisis

The confluence of the accelerating climate crisis, more frequent and severe disasters, widespread systemic injustice and oppression, and any number of additional coinciding crises (e.g., the COVID pandemic, mass shootings, biodiversity declines) paint a dark picture of our future. It has caused a notable rise in mental health concerns for those courageous enough to not avert their eyes. Young people, in particular, struggle with hope and meaning in light of their dire inheritance. Less well studied and yet of growing concern are the psychosocial impacts on those whose job it is to study, research, analyze and prepare for, manage, and lead us through these unprecedented challenges: climate professionals in a growing number of fields, such as ecology, conservation, natural resource management. This keynote address will offer insights into these psychosocial experiences of climate professionals. They suggest that those working to address the climate crisis are at high risk of burn-out. The climate workforce must perform its essential work in the context of repeated trauma and constant change, high complexity, pervasive uncertainty, politically charged and often polarized contexts. Climate professionals feel inadequately trained to facilitate, navigate, and lead communities through the transformative changes awaiting them. These conditions have pushed many professionals to the brink of despair and exhaustion even as they remain committed to advancing their critical work. The presentation will introduce a skill-building initiative – The Adaptive Mind Project – that aims to grow the necessary skills and capacities to face and navigate our increasingly dark future. It is those very skills that may yet make us homo sapiens sapiens – “wise humans.” 

Susi Moser HeadshotDr. Susanne Moser is Director and Principal Researcher of Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, a Research Scholar in the School of Environmental Studies at Antioch University New England. A geographer by training (Ph.D. 1997, Clark University), Susi works nationally and internationally as an independent scholar and consultant from a base in western Massachusetts, the ancestral and unceded homelands of the Nipmuc and Pocumtuc. Her work with government agencies, non-profits, foundations, other researchers and consultants focuses on adaptation to climate change, science-policy interactions, effective climate change communication, and psycho-social resilience in the face of the traumatic and transformative challenges associated with climate change. She is the founder of the Adaptive Mind Project, a capacity building and restorative training initiative to build the psychosocial skills needed for these times. Susi is also the editor of two award-winning edited volumes, one on successful adaptation to climate change; the other on how to communicate climate change. She has served on scientific advisory boards for Future Earth, the International Science Council, the US National Research Council and has contributed to the IPCC and US national climate assessments. You can learn more about her at