Category Archives: Yale Environmental Dialogue

The Role of Morals and Spirituality in Facing Environmental Threats

Solving the many environmental challenges we face will require insights from the worlds of science and technology, economics and the law. But those alone won’t be sufficient: we also need a moral force, say Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, senior lecturers and research scholars at Yale — and co-founders and directors of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. In this episode of the Yale Environmental Dialogue podcast, they are joined by Rev. Nancy Wright, a paster at Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont, for a discussion on the role of religion and spirituality in addressing environmental challenges. They make the case that when moral and spiritual perspectives are brought into the conversation about social and environmental problems, innovative solutions often arise.

A New Stewardship Ethic: Os Schmitz and Eleanor Sterling on Sustaining Humans and Nature as One

In the past, ecologists contended that nature must be protected from humankind and its relentless drive to dominate and destroy it. That view, however, is giving way to a new vision of humankind and nature working together, each dependent on the other for its existence. In this episode, Oswald J. Schmitz, professor of population and community ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, explores this new way of thinking about nature — of which humans are a part — and its promise for ensuring a more sustainable future. He is joined by Eleanor Sterling, the chief conservation scientist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, who describes some of the dangers of separating humans from nature — including a lost knowledge of how different systems work and interact — and how some cultures across the world have successfully maintained relationships with the natural world.

Stewards of the Land: Greg Gershuny and Anna Giorgi on Sustainable Agriculture

Food security and sustainability are critical components of achieving a peaceful and prosperous society. To achieve true food sustainability and security, the farming community must be more than simply stewards of the land: they must also provide nutrition and consider the climate implications of agriculture. In this episode, Greg Gershuny and Anna Giorgi of the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment program discuss how a range of stakeholders — from farmers and ranchers to food companies and consumers — can help achieve the sustainable food systems of the future.

Protecting the Rights of Kids: Paul Rink and Doug Kysar on Climate Litigation


Who is responsible for the global climate crisis? The plaintiffs in the case, Juliana v. U.S., argue that much of the blame lies at the feet of the federal government for enabling fossil fuel companies to alter the planet’s climate. In this episode of the YED podcast, Paul Rink explains that the Juliana case is part of an emerging litigation initiative that asserts a moral obligation on the part of governments to protect the rights of young people and unborn generations to a safe, sustainable climate. Rink is joined by Doug Kysar, a professor at Yale Law School. Together they examine the legal merits of the Juliana case and other youth-based climate litigation and their potential to reframe the narrative of the climate debate.

Hip-Hop Sustainability: Thomas Easley and Michael Twitty on Diversity in Environmental Communication

If society really wants to tackle environmental challenges it must confront a difficult reality: many of the people most affected by pollution and environmental degradation — including in communities of color across the U.S. — often aren’t included in the conversation. Building bridges that allow everyone a seat at the table will require us to rethink how we communicate about the environment, says Thomas Easley, assistant dean of community and inclusion at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. In this episode, Easley speaks with Michael Twitty, a student retention specialist at the New Haven Adult & Continuing Education Center. Together, they are trying to build such a bridge by bringing together students from each of their schools to examine the idea of environmental justice and develop strategies to achieve it in their community. In this conversation, they discuss the importance of communicating in ways that speak to all peoples’ values and experiences — and how their budding partnership can benefit everyone involved.

The Paris Agreement isn’t Enough: Susan Biniaz and Todd Stern on Achieving Meaningful Global Climate Action

In this episode, Susan Biniaz, the former lead climate lawyer for the U.S. State Department and Senior Fellow at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, suggests that for all its accomplishments, the 2015 Paris Agreement won’t be enough to solve the global climate challenge. She suggests the creation of a climate change “SWAT team” that helps align international law and policy with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Her guest, Todd Stern, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution and former special envoy for climate change at the Department of State, argues that any effective response must align international climate action with international finance — and involve a U.S. that is willing to “get back in the game.”

Dan Esty and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld on unleashing innovation for sustainability

In this episode, Dan Esty, a professor of environmental law and policy at Yale, makes the case that we need to move away from the traditional, top-down regulations of the 20th century and toward a system of incentives that promote innovation and problem solving. In this conversation, he is joined by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor of management at the Yale School of Management, who discusses how creativity and innovation can be unleashed — including in the business sector – and how businesses have become leaders in sustainability.

Introducing the Yale Environmental Dialogue Podcast

In this trailer, Dan Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale, introduces the Yale Environmental Dialogue, a new podcast from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies that will explore solutions to a sustainable future. In each episode, leading environmental thinkers from a range of disciplines, sectors, and political perspectives will share their ideas for addressing critical environmental challenges, and lead a discussion on these issues with colleagues and other experts on the likelihood of these ideas and innovations achieving meaningful change.