Indiana University Bloomington

Ecological design and environmental literacy leader to speak on Oberlin Project

  • March 24, 2014

WHAT: David Orr, "The Oberlin Project" 
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27
WHERE: Kelley School of Business Hodge Hall, Room BU219
TICKETS: Free general admission.


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. --  David Orr will give a public presentation at Indiana University Bloomington this week on The Oberlin Project, a collaboration aimed at revitalizing Oberlin, Ohio, into a model of sustainable economic development that ultimately produces more energy than it uses.

Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and senior adviser to the president of Oberlin College, will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, in Kelley School of Business Hodge Hall, Room BU219. A national expert in ecological design and environmental literacy, Orr has received a Bioneers Award, a Millennium Leadership Award from Global Green, a National Wildlife Federation Leadership Award, a Lyndhurst Prize and several honorary degrees. His talk at IU Bloomington is free and open to the public.

The Oberlin Project, a town-gown collaboration, has attracted international attention and $60 million in donations thus far. Recently, the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Positive Development Program selected the City of Oberlin as one of 18 original cities in this global climate leadership recognition program.  

Orr is visiting IU as part of a larger meeting of the Mid America Prosperity and Security steering group, formed in Indiana in the fall to map opportunities for innovative economic development based on principles of sustainability. The Lake Erie Crescent Innovation Cluster, which Orr helped establish, is a model for this type of collaborative enterprise.

The Mid America Prosperity and Security group is in the early stages of planning regional initiatives in three areas: Walkable Communities, Regenerative Agriculture and Resource Productivity. Mark Mykleby, the former Joint Chiefs strategist who is catalyzing the formation of these economic development clusters across the country, will also be in Bloomington for the steering group meeting, which will take place Friday, March 28, in the Kelley School of Business Godfrey Graduate Education Center.

"This generation faces unprecedented challenges that also offer incredible opportunities for higher education, business and community development," said Bill Brown, IU Bloomington director of sustainability. “David Orr has shown how these sectors can work together to attract significant funding and make dramatic progress at community and regional scales.”

Orr’s visit is sponsored by the IU Bloomington Office of Sustainability, with contributing funds from a grant received through the College Arts and Humanities Institute. On Friday morning, Orr will be speaking to the Sustainability Community of Practice about sustainability curriculum development and transdisciplinary teaching. Faculty interested in attending should email for more details. 

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Media Contacts

Katherine Glaser

  • IU Bloomington Office of Sustainability
  • Office 812-855-2678