Our faculty’s signature event, attracting top international research professors on the environment to campus
Each professor gives public lectures, teaches classes, and meets with professors and students. Described as a "fitting testament" to the late Walter Bean’s legacy of community involvement and commitment to youth, education and community, the professorship is made possible thanks to the generosity of TD Canada Trust and their commitment to building a sustainable future together with their partners.
Thank you to our past speakers
Amber Wutich - 2021
President’s Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Global Health at Arizona State University.
"MAD Water: Mobile, Adaptive & Decentralized Infrastructure for the Climate Change Era"
In her talk, Dr. Amber Wutich explored one of the greatest threats facing humans in the coming century - water insecurity.
While climate change is projected to destroy water systems, displace populations, and intensify water inequalities around the world, for many communities, the imagined dystopian future of severe water shortages has already arrived—shaped not so much by lack of water, but by aging infrastructure, underfunded utilities, social exclusion, politicized commodification, and environmental racism.
Dr. Wutich illustrated how the missing key to solving water insecurity is hidden in the social infrastructure all around us and how social infrastructure—informal economies, social networks, and cultural norms—can be leveraged to distribute water in fair and just ways.
Watch the lecture on Youtube.
Julian Agyeman - 2020
"Just Sustainabilities in Urban Planning, Policy and Practice"
In his talk, Julian outlined the concept of just sustainabilities as a response to the ‘equity deficit’ of much sustainability thinking and practice. He is the author or editor of 12 books and in 2018, he was awarded the Athena City Accolade by KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, for his "outstanding contribution to the field of social justice and ecological sustainability, environmental policy and planning".
Watch the lecture on YouTube
Jacqueline McGlade - 2019
Frank Jackson Foundation Professor of the Environment at Gresham College, Professor of Resilience and Sustainable Development at the University College London, Professor and Director of Maasai Mara University Green Growth Development Research and Training Centre.
“Together, Building Sustainable Communities”
In this talk Jacqueline McGlade explored how to create ‘collaborative ecosystems’ to help people and their environments flourish. Pushing UN Sustainable Goal 17 to the forefront, Dr. McGlade explored how we can revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Watch the lecture on Youtube
Steven Cooke - 2018
“On the State of Freshwater Fish and Fisheries: Finding a Future for the Forgotten”
Cooke is the Chair of the Sea Lamprey Research Board of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and Past President of the International Section of the American Fisheries Society. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, Fellow of the American Fisheries Society, Secretary of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. Cooke is a proud UW alumnus (BES 1997; MSc 1999). Watch the lecture on Vimeo.
Jeffrey D. Sachs - 2017
“Rising Nationalism Versus Global Cooperation for Sustainable Development”
Widely considered one of the greatest minds in international economic and sustainable development, Sachs has advised dozens of heads of state on economic strategy, written six books, including three best sellers, and has received a host of awards and honours for his work on ending poverty and hunger, overcoming macroeconomic instability and promoting sustainable development. Watch the lecture on YouTube.
Ben Schwegler - 2016
Senior Vice President & Chief Scientist, Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development
“Creating Sustainable Cities from the Ground Up – Lesson from Disney Research”
The scale, speed and impact of this is unprecedented. For this effort to be sustainable, new conceptual models of urban planning as well as new technologies in design, financing, and construction management of major infrastructure projects have to be developed and tested in a very short time. This lecture provides a view from the front lines of this amazing real world challenge with Dr. Ben Schwegler and his lecture titled Sustainable Cities in China.
Thomas Stohlgren - 2015
Senior Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
“Invasions from Inner Space: Species Invasion and Extinction”
Thomas Stohlgren is a leading authority in the field of biological invasions and holds numerous recognitions including several Partners in Conservation Awards and the Meritorious Service Award. His lecture touched on many points regarding transport, establishment, and effects of invasive species, as well as possible eradication strategies. A highlight of his talk was the parachuting mice laced with acetaminophen.
Norio Okada - 2012
Former Director & Professor, Disaster Prevention Research Institute
“Averting Disaster: Coping with Earthquakes, Tsunami and Nuclear Meltdowns”
Norio Okada is an expert in the management of physical and human systems, including natural disasters, the environment, water resources, and infrastructure. A former director and professor at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University. His lecture will recall lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake, presenting his Vitae Systems methodology for handling future events in a proactive, adaptive, and integrative fashion.
Roger Pielke Sr. - 2011
Senior Research Scientist/Associate, CIRES & University of Colorado
“Extreme Weather in the Coming Decades – What is the Role of Climate Change?”
Critical resources of water, food, energy, human health, and ecosystem function need protection from extreme weather. Join us as Dr. Pielke presents new perspectives being used by the climate change community to assess threats and determine how important they are relative to other social and environmental threats.
Stephen Schneider - 2010
Former Professor, Environmental Biology & Global Change, Stanford University
“Truth or Consequences: What can I do about Climate Change since I can’t negotiate with China?”
World-renowned climatologist, Dr. Stephen Schneider served as Waterloo’s TD Canada Trust Walter Bean Visiting Professor in the Environment in 2010. His impact was profound – as is his legacy of leadership in the battle to save the Earth’s climate.
Joseph MacInnis - 2010
President, Undersea Research Ltd. Adviser, Titanic Discovery Team
“Leadership Lessons from the Gulf of Mexico”
Dr. Joe MacInnis has led over 20 deep-sea expeditions in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans. From this unique vantage point, Joe will provide a rare glimpse into the devastating impacts of the oil spill.
Andras Szöllösi-Nagy - 2009
Former Reactor, UNESCO-IHE Chair, Intergovernmental Council of IHP Professor, National University of Public Service
“Water For the 21st Century: Will There Be Any?”
Szöllösi-Nagy is internationally recognized as an expert in hydrological forecasting and modelling, filtering techniques and statistical hydrology. Hydrology studies water in the earth and atmosphere, along with its distribution, uses and conservation. His lecture addressed the current water resource management practices and identified what needs to be done in the future.
Tavi Murray - 2008
Professor of Glaciology, Swansea University
“Warming Climate, Melting Ice: What is our Future?”
Internationally recognized as an expert on climate change and the stability of glaciers, Murray will examine whether it is already too late to reverse glacial melting in one of the fastest-changing parts of the Earth.
Steve Hrudey - 2006
Professor Emeritus, Analytical & Environmental Toxicology, University of Alberta
“150 Years and Counting: Drinking Water Safety Lessons are Learned Slowly”
A leading expert on environmental health risks, Steve Hrudey's lecture explores the safety of drinking water in Canada. Hrudey examines drinking water safety in Canada, ranging from the Walkerton disaster to the recent Kashechewan reservation evacuation. In an effort to emphasize the urgency of water safety measures given our technological advacements.
Frank Schwartz - 2005
Professor & Ohio Eminent Scholar in Hydrogeology, The Ohio State University
“Whisky’s for Drinking. Water’s for Fighting Over”
A researcher in contaminant hydrogeology and groundwater geochemistry, Schwartz used his expertise to discuss issues contributing to conflicts over water resources such as drought, population growth, profits and politics in North America and elsewhere.
Flora MacDonald - 2004
Former Cabinet Minister
“Afghanistan: Failed State or Struggling Democracy”
The. Hon. Flora MacDonald served 16 years as Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands during which time she held three Cabinet positions. Since leaving Parliament she has been Chairperson of the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa; Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Edinburgh; and in 1999 she was CoChair for Canada of the UN International Year of Older Persons.
Kelly Thambimuthu - 2003
Senior Scientist, CANMET Energy Technology Centre of Natural Resources Canada
“Fossil Fuels, Climate Change and Kyoto: Are We in a Fix?”
A leading international authority on climate change and fossil fuel, Kelly Thambimuthu lecture explores how we can eliminate harmful emissions from using fossil fuels for energy. In other words, the steps that can be taken now and until such time when the technology is available to effectively use alternative energy sources.
Jorg Imberger - 2002
Adjunct Professor, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
“Where the Water Flows: Energy Flux Paths in a Stratified Lake”
An expert on water flows and water resources, Jorg Imberger's lectures ties in his academic knowledge and first hand experience on the topic of energy flux paths in a stratisfied lake.
Naresh Singh - 2001
Visiting Senior Fellow, University of the West Indies Senior Research Associate, MERI
“Sustainable Livelihoods in Today’s World Insights from Systems Thinking and Complexity Theory”