Campus News

Bowdoin Lecture Series to Examine the Value of Nature

Story posted September 15, 1998


Sept. 23, 1998, BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Six Bowdoin faculty members are offering a provocative lecture series this fall based on an article in a scientific journal that estimated the "value" of the world's ecosystem at $33 trillion.

In the British journal Nature, the ecologist Robert Costanza and 12 co-authors reviewed a large number of ecological and economic studies of specific ecosystem services, then combined them to conclude that the value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital was perhaps twice the annual value of all of the world's economic activity, what is referred to as gross world product.

Using that article, these faculty members formed a Workshop on Valuing Nature, and met regularly during the spring semester to discuss the ecological, ethical, aesthetic and economic issues surrounding the concept of "the value of nature."

Participants in the Valuing Nature Workshop are now preparing papers based on last spring's discussions. They will be presenting a series of public talks based on these papers during the fall semester. All talks will be in Kresge Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. They are free and open to the public.

The titles of the talks and their dates are:

  • "Valuing Nature: What is it that We are Trying to Value?" presented by Edward S. Gilfillan, ecologist, Wednesday Sept. 23.
  • "How Much is Nature Really Worth? An Economic Perspective," presented by A. Myrick Freeman III, economist, Wednesday Oct. 7.
  • "The Value(s) of Nature," presented by Lawrence H. Simon, philosopher, Wednesday Oct. 14.
  • "Does Valuing Nature Devalue Idealism, Religion and God?" presented by Thomas B. Cornell, artist, Wednesday Oct. 14.
  • "Wilderness, Commons and Farms in Early Maine,"presented by Edward L. Hawes, historian, Wednesday Dec. 2.
  • "The Evolution of North American Efforts to Value Nature and Comprehend Ecosystems, 1600-1900," presented by Sarah McMahon, historian, Wednesday, Dec 2.

The Valuing Nature Workshop and the talks are sponsored by the the Environmental Studies Program and the William D. Shipman Professorship, created by a gift from Stanley F. Druckenmiller, '75.

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