Homer-Dixon, Orbinski and Simpson to open UBC Okanagan’s Distinguished Speaker Series

Three powerful messages about social and environmental sustainability -- from addressing climate change to coping with humanitarian needs around the world -- lead this fall’s Distinguished Speaker Series of free public lectures presented by UBC Okanagan’s Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences.

The series begins September 23 in Kelowna with Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of The Upside of Down,who will examine the state of our world from environmental, political and social perspectives. A presentation in Vernon on Nov. 7 will feature Dr. James Orbinski, one of the founders of the Canadian branch of Doctors Without Borders, followed by a Nov. 26 talk in Kelowna by The Globe and Mail’s national affairs columnist Jeffrey Simpson.

“Speakers for the fall portion of our series are people who not only have a keen sense of the environmental and social issues we face, but each also has fashioned powerful ideas about how to address the issues,” says series chair Robert Young, Associate Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UBC Okanagan.

“We really wanted to find individuals who have coherent plans to make things better, and each of our speakers has a field of concern they want to bring to the public consciousness, and they have gone the extra step to create a plan to deal with the challenges.”

The fall series features:

Thomas Homer-Dixon, speaking at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Sep. 23, is one of the world’s leading experts on the intricate links between nature, technology, and society. His recent book The Upside of Down sets out a theory of the growth, breakdown, and renewal of societies. It argues that today’s converging energy, environmental, and political-economic stresses could cause a breakdown of national and global order. But there are things we can do now to keep such a breakdown from being catastrophic.

Free tickets to Homer-Dixon’s presentation are now available from the Rotary Centre’s Box Office at 250-717-5304.

Dr. James Orbinski is a veteran of many of the world's most disturbing and complex humanitarian emergencies. He accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in 1999. Orbinski’s book, An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the 21st Century is a deeply personal, deeply political book. With unstinting candor, Orbinski explores the nature of humanitarian action in the 21st century, and asserts the fundamental imperative of seeing as human those whose political systems have most brutally failed.

Orbinski’s presentation takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7, at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre (3800 - 33rd Street, Vernon). Registration for seats at this event will open Oct. 6 on the UBC Okanagan website.

Jeffrey Simpson is an award-winning journalist and current events expert who has his finger on the pulse of Canada and the world. Simpson’s presentation, entitled Hot Air: Fixing Canada’s Climate Change Catastrophe, lays out in convincing and easily understandable terms the few simple policies that Canada must adopt right away in order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change.

Simpson will speak at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 26 at Kelowna’s Rotary Centre for the Arts. Tickets can be ordered from the Rotary Centre’s Box Office starting Oct. 27.

For the latest information about this year’s Distinguished Speaker Series and ticket availability, visit the website at www.ubc.ca/okanagan/speakers.

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