Location: Bowdoin / Environmental Studies / Activity / 2011 / Wes Jackson- Consulting the Genius of Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture

Environmental Studies

Wes Jackson- Consulting the Genius of Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture

Story posted March 10, 2011

Event date(s): April 11, 2011 — April 12, 2011

Wes Jackson, President, The Land Institute
Monday, April 11 7:30 pm
Kresge Auditorium, Visual Art Center

Due to the high demand for this event tickets are required. A limited number of tickets will be available beginning at 7:00 pm 'at the door' on April 11. Additional seating will be available in Beam Classroom where the talk will be projected. Audience members from Beam Classroom will be invited into Kresge Auditorium for the Q&A at the end of the talk.

Wes Jackson is one of the foremost figures in the international sustainable agriculture movement. He is also founder and president of The Land Institute. Dr. Jackson is a plant geneticist-agronomist who left academic life to pursue his vision of a natural farming system based on perennial crops. He has pioneered research in natural systems agriculture- including perennial grains, perennial polycultures, and intercropping- for more than 30 years. 

A recent article in National Geographic discussed the ideas that Wes Jackson and the Land Institute are pursuing. All the grains that feed billions of people today—wheat, rice, corn, and so on—come from annual plants, which sprout from seeds, produce new seeds, and die every year. The plant breeders at the Land Institute are crossing modern grains with wild perennial relatives and trying to domesticate the wild plants directly. They do this with the hope that the crops would tap the main advantage of perennials—the deep, dense root systems that fuel the plants' rebirth each spring and that make them so resilient and resource efficient—without sacrificing too much of the grain yield that millennia of selection have bred into annuals. To read the full article click here.

While at Bowdoin Dr. Jackson will discuss his new book, 'Consulting the Genius of Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture' (Counterpoint 2010) where he asks readers to look to natural ecosystems as the measure against which we judge all our agricultural practices. Dr. Jackson earned a B.A. from Kansas Wesleyan, an M.A. from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He established and served as chair of one the country’s first environmental studies programs at California State University-Sacramento and then returned to his native Kansas to found The Land Institute in 1976. He is the author of several books including 'Becoming Native to This Place', 'New Roots for Agriculture', and 'Alters of Unhewn Stone' . Selected books will be on sale at the Bowdoin Bookstore, and in Kresge Gallery on the evening of the event.

Dr. Jackson is a recipient of the Pew Conservation Scholars award (1990), a MacArthur Fellowship (1992), the Right Livelihood Award (Stockholm), also known as “Alternative Nobel Prize”(2000), and the Louis Bromfield Award (2010). He has received four honorary doctorates and in 2007 received the University of Kansas Distinguished Service Award. Life Magazine named Dr. Jackson one of 18 individuals it predicts will be among the 100 “most important Americans of the 20th century.” In November 2005, Smithsonian called him one of the “35 Who Made a Difference.”

For more information, please call 207-725-3396, or e-mail  ‘es@bowdoin.edu’

Sponsored by Bowdoin Departments of Sociology & Anthropology, English, Economics, the Environmental Studies Program, the McKeen Center, the Chewonki Foundation, MOFGA, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy of Maine, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and with support from Bowdoin SAFC and Concerts and Lectures.

"Unless this disease is checked, the human race will wilt like any other crop."