Posted by William Nunnelley on 2007-04-05

Samford's Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education will host a symposium April 21, as nationally renowned leaders in science, religion and the environment come together to discuss "saving life on earth."

"The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth" includes one of the world's most renowned biologists, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Harvard scholar and Alabama native E. O. Wilson; the Rev. Sally Bingham of the San Francisco-based Regeneration Project, and Craig Branch, executive director of the Birmingham-based Apologetics Resource Center.

The April 21 conference begins at 9 a.m. in the Leslie Wright Fine Arts Center on the Samford campus and is open to the public.

An Alabama native who was raised as a Southern Baptist, Wilson recently released a book entitled, The Creation, in which he challenges religious believers to join with secularists toward the common goal of saving creation. Bingham will discuss the religious call for environmental stewardship, and Branch will give an evangelical perspective of environmental responsibility.

The one-day conference is the Vulcan Materials Center's spring 2007 edition of the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium (ALEEC). Conference speakers include:

Dr. E. O. Wilson – A professor of biology at Harvard University, Wilson has been named as one of "America's 25 Most Influential People" by Time magazine, he has twice received the Pulitzer Prize for his books Ants and On Human Nature. Considered by many to be the father of the modern environmental movement, Wilson has made contributions to the field of conservation. His best-selling book, The Future of Life, makes a passionate and eloquent plea for a new approach to the management and protection of our global eco-systems.

Rev. Sally Bingham – Bingham is founder and co-director of The Regeneration Project, an interfaith movement to encourage the faith community to take an active role in decreasing the negative impact of human behavior on the global climate. Bringing widespread attention to the link between ecological issues and religious faith, Bingham is the environmental minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and serves on the advisory board of the Union of Concerned Scientists. In October 2006, the Rev. Bingham led the Interfaith Power and Light Regeneration Campaign to show the Academy Award winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Craig Branch – Branch directs the Birmingham-based Apologetics Resource Center. A Virginia native, Branch left the Unitarian Church at age 29 and began serving in various evangelical ministries, including as Alabama director and vice president for Watchman Fellowship for 15 years. He has also served as chair of the Clergy Relations Committee of the American Family Foundation. He co-authored the book Thieves of Innocence with John Weldon and John Ankerberg. The book focuses on the New Age movement in education. He has published articles in Christianity Today and the upcoming Baker's Encyclopedia of Cults and World Religions.

The afternoon session on the "Art of Action" includes speakers on urban sprawl and health, climate challenge and personal choice, and sustainable landscaping.

Paul Blanchard, director of the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship and Education, said "this conference is unprecedented as far as we know at Samford in terms of both the divergent collection of views on the environment presented, and the sheer scale of what we hope is a record attendance by the concerned public. We already have several hundred people interested in coming from all sides of the environmental debate."

The Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Education and Stewardship was established jointly with Samford University in 2003 through major gifts from the Birmingham-based Vulcan Materials Company. Through the ALEEC program, the Center hosts a fall and spring conference each year on current environmental issues, incorporating interdisciplinary talent throughout Alabama.

Blanchard said, "The ALEEC program is set up expressly for multilateral cooperation among a wide selection of universities and the community for just this purpose – to have public exposure to the latest research and thought on these issues."

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.