Acclaimed environmental writer Elizabeth Rush to give sixth President’s Distinguished Lecture
Acclaimed environmental writer Elizabeth Rush, author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore and The Quickening: On Motherhood and Antarctica in the Twenty First Century, will be the speaker at the sixth annual President’s Distinguished Lecture Series event at Connecticut College in April.
Rush spent many years reporting from coastal communities experiencing the pressure of higher tides and stronger storms. In Rising, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, she weaves together her personal experience with first-hand testimonials of those living on climate change’s front lines, guiding readers through some of the places where sea level rise is a reality.
“I’m thrilled that Elizabeth Rush will be coming to campus to share her insights,” President Katherine Bergeron said. “She is one of the leading voices in the global conversation about climate change, sea level rise and the resulting impacts on our lives, our communities and our planet. Her writing is elegant, haunting, rigorously reported and immensely intelligent. It sheds new light on the human condition and our capacity for hope and our ability to imagine and thrive in a world transformed by climate change.”
Central to Rush’s writing practice is the act of listening: listening to those who live in front-line communities transformed by the climate; listening to Antarctica’s great glaciers as they go to pieces; listening to all those voices long locked out of environmental conversations. Her work explores fundamental questions: What does our broken world ask of us? How can we continue to live and love while also losing much?
In 2019, Rush joined 57 scientists and crew onboard a research icebreaker for months in Antarctica to learn about the Thwaites Glacier, nicknamed the Doomsday Glacier because of its instability and potential to make a catastrophic impact on global sea-level rise this century. In The Quickening, Rush documents their voyage, offering sublime observations alongside the workaday moments of this groundbreaking expedition. Along the way, she takes readers on a personal journey around a more intimate question: What does it mean to bring a child into the world at this time of radical change?
“Elizabeth Rush works to highlight environmental injustices by bringing forward the voices of vulnerable communities impacted by sea-level rise associated with global climate change,” said Professor Doug Thompson, director of Conn’s Office of Sustainability. “Students in my ‘Environmental Studies/Geoscience: Living on a Changing Planet’ class have praised Rush for her ability to amplify the message of some of the victims of climate change that have been otherwise forgotten or ignored because of their lower socioeconomic status.”
Rush is the recipient of fellowships from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Howard Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation and Metcalf Institute. She lives in Providence and teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University.
The President’s Distinguished Lecture Series, launched in 2016, brings notable figures from a variety of fields to Connecticut College each year for a public presentation and informal meetings with students, faculty and staff. Rush’s talk, organized in partnership with Connecticut College’s Office of Sustainability, will be at 7 p.m. on April 10 at the Athey Center for Performance and Research at Palmer Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.