OSU to host series of events honoring Rachel Carson


CORVALLIS - Oregon State University will host a series of events this fall that will examine the legacy of Rachel Carson 40 years after she issued her warning about the long-term effects of misusing pesticides in her landmark book, "Silent Spring."

The Ideas Matter lecture series, "Rachel Carson: Legacy and Challenge," is sponsored by the OSU Department of Philosophy.

A series of noted biographers, authors and scholars will visit the OSU campus and/or Corvallis area for the presentations, which are free and open to the public.

Carson, who died in 1964 from breast cancer, changed the way society viewed the environment with her book and subsequent testimonies before Congress. In addition to "Silent Spring," Carson published a prize-winning study of the ocean called "The Sea Around Us," followed by "The Edge of the Sea" in the 1950s. They helped establish her as a leading naturalist and science writer for the public.

Jane Lubchenco, a distinguished professor of zoology and a noted marine biologist, will deliver the keynote presentation, leading off the series with a lecture on Thursday, Oct. 3, called "Rachel's Legacy, Rachel's Ocean." It will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Milam Hall auditorium.

Other lecturers during the term include Linda Lear, a leading biographer of Carson, who will appear on Oct. 10 for her lecture, "Rachel Carson: The Making of a Prophetic Voice"; and John Peterson Myers, co-author of "Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival?" on Oct. 17. His lecture is titled "Silent Spring to Scientific Revolution."

Among the other events and activities the series offers will be a program on Nov. 7 featuring cancer survivors, a one-woman play about Rachel Carson by Kaiulani Lee, and an art and essay exhibition of work produced by local schoolchildren.

The entire schedule for the series follows:

  • Oct. 3: "Rachel's Legacy, Rachel's Ocean," the keynote address by Jane Lubchenco, OSU Distinguished Professor of Zoology, 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium.


  • Oct. 10: "Rachel Carson: The Making of a Prophetic Voice," by Linda Lear, author of 'Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature,' 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium. (also part of the Horning Lecture Series)


  • Oct. 17: "Silent Spring to Scientific Revolution," by John Peterson Myers, co-author of 'Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival?' 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium.


  • Oct. 24: "Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood," by Sandra Steingraber, author of 'Living Downstream,' 7:45 p.m., Milam Auditorium.


  • Oct. 30: "Under the Sea Wind: An Arts Celebration," a community celebration of the sea, featuring an open microphone for poems and essays about the sea, and an open carousel for slides. 7;30 p.m., Corvallis Public Library.


  • Nov. 7: "A Chorus of Voices," featuring local cancer survivors speaking of celebration or warning. Michael Grey-Eyes will play the flute. The program will be followed by a reception and informational displays, 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium.


  • Nov. 14: "The Promise of Pesticides," by Paul Jepson, an OSU professor of entomology, who will present 'slice-of-time' anecdotes about scientists' views of pesticides in 1942, 1962, 1982 and 2002; 7:45 p.m., Milam Auditorium.


  • Nov. 21: "The Religious and Secular Origins of Rachel Carson's Sense of Wonder," by Lisa Sideris, McGill University, 7:30 p.m., Milam Auditorium.
  • Dec. 5: "A Sense of Wonder" art and essay exhibition by elementary and secondary school students, with a reception at 6:30 p.m. in the Owen Hall atrium. A presentation by Kathleen Dean Moore, an OSU professor of philosophy, called "Rachel's Challenge" will follow at 7:30 p.m. in Owen Hall Room 102.

Note: Kaiulani Lee will present a one-woman play called "A Sense of Wonder" that is based on the life of Rachel Carson. It will be performed at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 at the Majestic Theater in Corvallis. There also is an ongoing public school art and essay project called "A Sense of Wonder," coordinated by OSU student interns in Oregon public classrooms.