‘The Sixth Extinction’ author Elizabeth Kolbert speaks at the 2021 Waxter Environmental Forum

Posted on April 08, 2021 by Dana Poleski

Elizabeth Kolbert (PC: Nicholas Whitman) Elizabeth Kolbert (PC: Nicholas Whitman)

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and The New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert will virtually join the Sweet Briar community on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. for a special presentation and Q&A session around her book “The Sixth Extinction,” which is the College’s 2020-2021 Common Read selection.

Register here to join this free, public event.

Elizabeth joins us through Sweet Briar College’s 2021 Julia B. Waxter Environmental Forum, which has been held at the College since 1999. Past speakers include Ginette Hemley with the World Wildlife Fund, Old Growth Forest founder Joan Maloof, and writers Barbara Kingsolver and Scott Russell Sanders.

Lisa Powell, environmental science professor and director of the College’s Center for Human and Environmental Sustainability, will lead the interview with Elizabeth, followed by a panel of students for questions and discussion.

The Sixth Extinction

“We’re grateful that Ms. Kolbert can join us virtually this spring, despite the interruptions caused by the pandemic,” says Carrie Brown, professor of English and creative writing and director of the Center for Creativity, Design and the Arts. “As one of the leading voices in environmental journalism, she is working with enormous intelligence, empathy, and bravery – not to mention considerable skill as a writer — at the leading edge of a dark and difficult story, the unfolding drama of the scientific and existential threat to life on the planet. In many ways, she is an emissary from that approaching horizon, and her work shows us how to see both behind us and ahead as we face the immensely complex landscape of the future.”

“I say bravery, because I think it takes courage to bear witness, as she does in ‘The Sixth Extinction,’ to the ominous ways that human beings have changed and are changing the shape and future of life on the planet,” continues Carrie. “The stories she tells stay with us, even as the subjects of those stories vanish, and I know it will be inspiring for members of our community to hear from her about how she finds those stories and brings them to us.”

The Julia B. Waxter Environmental Forum is supported by an endowment established by the late Julia Baldwin Waxter ’49 and her husband, Bill. In addition to presenting a public lecture, each forum speaker interacts with environmental science students through class visits, a dinner and informal conversations.