Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2005-09-28

The fall conference of the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium, to be held at Samford University Saturday, Oct. 8, will focus on environmental sustainability and the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

Keynote speakers are industrialist/environmentalist Ray Anderson and author/activist Mike Tidwell.

The Consortium, which had its organizational meeting at Samford last May, includes delegates from most of Alabama's 36 four-year school and some two-year colleges.

The October meeting is sponsored by Samford's Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education in partnership with the Council for Environmental Deans and Directors and the National Council of Science and the Environment. Additional support for the conference is provided by the Edith Munson Foundation.

Anderson, founder and CEO of Interface Flooring systems, Inc., a billion dollar manufacturer of carpets, textiles and architectural products, will speak Saturday morning, Oct. 8, on the topic "A Call for Systemic Change."

Anderson has been honored by the Association of Interior Designers and the International Interior Design Association for his corporate responsibility for a better environment. ASID cited Anderson for his emphasis on helping clients understand the environmental consequences of their material and fabrication process choices. IIDA noted his leadership of a corporation that is "carrying the banner for the environment."

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, will lead the Saturday afternoon session on the topic "Hurricane Katrina: Impacts and Opportunities."

Tidwell is the author of Bayou Farewell: the Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast (2003), which essentially predicted that a hurricane such as Katrina would happen.

Since Katrina struck, Tidwell has been interviewed by many national news organizations. He seeks to raise awareness of how climate change could soon turn every coastal city in the world into a New Orleans, unless there is a rapid switch to clean, renewable energy.

A panel discussion will be led by biology professor Paul Blanchard, director of Samford's Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education. Panelists are Richard Esposito, hydro geologist, Southern Company Services; John Floyd, risk management attorney, Vulcan Materials Company; Ron Jenkins, Samford biology professor and Dauphin Island Sea Lab researcher; and Hugh Floyd, Samford professor and environmental sociologist.

The schedule includes a showing of photographs taken on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and break-out sessions on needs and opportunities related to research, education, restoration and policy.

The purpose of the ALEEC is to provide environmental educators a forum in which to create working discussion, identify common challenges and solutions, foster collaborations with environmental leaders at out of state colleges and identify funding and partnership opportunities for environmental research and education.

Participants will begin the conference with a dinner at Vulcan Park on Friday evening.

The public is invited to any of the lectures and sessions free of charge.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.