Sustainable Futures Speaker Series

This interdisciplinary speaker series, established in September 2005, is intended to stimulate cross disciplinary discussion, debate, and collaboration around issues related to energy, the environment, and society. The series is sponsored by the Environment and Community Program and the Schatz Energy Research Center. All members of the HSU community and the general public are welcome to attend these presentations.

Fall 2015

  • Unless otherwise noted, events are 5:30pm-7:00pm Thursdays in Gist Hall 218 *

September 3
Matthew Marshall
“RePowering Humboldt: Progress Toward Implementing A Local Community Choice Aggregation Program”

Matthew Marshall is the Executive Director of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA). Under the delegated authority of the Energy Authority Board of Directors, Mr. Marshall manages all RCEA activities and functions; guides and implements strategic planning; and oversees program development, implementation, and evaluation. Mr. Marshall has been involved in a variety of energy planning, policy, and implementation endeavors, and previously served as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program Administrator for the City and County of Denver, where he was responsible for developing and managing locally-, state-, and federally-funded comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction projects and community partnerships in support of Denver’s Climate Action Plan. A graduate of Humboldt State University, Mr. Marshall’s work on innovative sustainable energy systems and programs has been recognized and honored by the National Hydrogen Association, the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Hydrogen Business Council, the American Lung Association in Colorado, and the United States Congress.

Mr. Marshall’s volunteer non-profit service includes serving on the Board of Directors of the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust (President), the Northcoast Educational Foundation (President), the Humboldt Folklife Society (President), the Center for Environmental Economic Development, and the Trinidad Museum Society; he is also a firefighter with the Westhaven Volunteer Fire Department and a professional artist and bagpiper.

September 24
Seth Shonkoff
“The Environmental, Public Health, and Climate Dimensions of Oil and Gas Development in California”

Dr. Shonkoff is the executive director of the energy science and policy institute, PSE Healthy Energy. He is also a visiting scholar in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at University of California, Berkeley, and an affiliate in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California.

An environmental and public health scientist by training, Shonkoff has more than 15 years of experience in water, air, climate, and population health research. Shonkoff completed his PhD in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and his MPH in epidemiology in the School of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a contributing author to the human health chapter of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). He was also the lead author of the two human health chapters in the California Senate Bill 4 Independent Scientific Study on hydraulic fracturing and well stimulation, published in July 2015. He has worked and published on topics related to the intersection of energy, air pollution, water quality, climate, and human health from scientific and policy perspectives. Shonkoff’s current work focuses on the human health, environmental, and climate dimensions of oil and gas development in the United States and abroad.

October 8
Jack West
“The PV Industry: An Insider’s Insights into the Evolution of PV Technology and Business Models”

Jack West is a recognized expert and key technology leader in the photovoltaics industry and a regular speaker/lecturer on PV technology. An avid inventor, Mr. West is the holder of dozens of patents in the solar and music industries.

West graduated magna cum laude from Humboldt State University (HSU) in 1991, with a BS degree in Appropriate Technology Engineering, Solar Engineering Focus. During his tenure as co-director of HSU’s Campus Center for Appropriate Technology, West was inspired by the vision of a fossil-fuel-free world. That vision led him to dedicate himself to the PV industry for the past 25 years. He began his career in the early 1990’s by creating one of the first grid-tied PV installation businesses in California. In 2000, he cofounded High Sun Engineering, the first California-based engineering firm specializing in PV system design and engineering. In 2009, he cofounded Zep Solar to commercialize his rail-free PV mounting invention. West is also the creator of Zep Solar’s unique business model based on standardization of the Zep Compatible™ platform.

October 22
Charles Wilkinson
“From Humboldt Bay to the Columbia to the Canadian Line: How the Northwest Tribes Triumphed in the Courts and Changed the World” *This event will be held in University Center 225 – Kate Buchanan Room.

November 5
Harsha Walia
“Border Imperialism and Environmental Racism”

Harsha Walia is an author and activist who is formally trained in the law. She immigrated from India and currently resides in Vancouver, on the lands of the Indigenous Coast Salish people.

Harsha has been named one of the most influential South Asians in British Columbia by the Vancouver Sun and one of the ten most popular left-wing journalists by the Georgia Straight in 2010. Naomi Klein has called Harsha “one of Canada’s most brilliant and effective political organizers.”

Harsha’s book, Undoing Border Imperialism, was published in 2013 by AK Press. Her writings have appeared in numerous magazines, including Briarpatch, Canadian Dimension, Dominion, Feministing, Fuze, Left Turn, Mondoweiss, People of Color Organize, Rabble, Racilicious, Sanhati, Z Magazine, and others. She has contributed essays to academic journals as well as chapters in the anthologies Power of Youth: Youth and community-led activism in Canada; Racism and Borders: Representation, Repression, Resistance; Beyond Walls and Cages; Stay Solid; Broken Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution; Organize! Building from the Local for Global Justice, and the Winter We Danced.

Harsha is a cofounder of the migrant justice group No One Is Illegal and the progressive South Asian network Radical Desis. She is an organizer in numerous social justice organizations, and has made a number of presentations to the United Nations on social and economic justice issues.

November 12
Sarah Ray
“Can a Green University Serve Underrepresented Students?: Reconciling Sustainability and Diversity at HSU”

Sarah Jaquette Ray is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Humboldt State University (HSU), where she also leads the Environmental Studies Program. She began at HSU in 2013, after four years leading the Geography and Environmental Studies program at University of Alaska Southeast. She received her PhD from University of Oregon in 2009 in Environmental Sciences, Studies, and Policy, with English as a focal department.

Ray’s research interests are environmental justice, identity and the cultural politics of nature, environmental humanities, ecocriticism, and critical human geography. Her book, The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture (Arizona, 2013), explores the roots of environmentalism’s inability to be welcoming to a wide variety of communities in the U.S., focusing on how these roots manifest in contemporary exclusions of immigrants, Native Americans, and people with disabilities.

In this talk, Ray will bring these analyses to bear on the context of HSU’s twin values of “sustainability” and “diversity.” Ray will contend that achieving these goals will require reckoning with the broader historical tensions between environmentalism and social justice.

Spring 2015

Spring 2015

  • Unless otherwise noted, events are 5:30pm-7:00pm Thursdays in BSS 166 *

February 19
Arne Jacobson
“The Pico Power Revolution: Off-Grid Energy Services for Low Income People in Africa, Asia, and Beyond”

Arne Jacobson is a professor in the Environmental Resources Engineering Department and Director of the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University. He serves as the technical lead for product quality assurance for Lighting Global, which is associated with the Lighting Africa and Lighting Asia programs. Collectively, these programs have helped enable sales of over 6 million quality assurance solar lighting systems to people in off-grid areas of Africa and Asia.

Arne has a Ph.D. from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley, a master’s degree focused on Environmental Resources Engineering from Humboldt State University, and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Earlham College. In 2010-11 he served as Senior Advisor in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at U.S. Department of Energy. Arne’s areas of research and work interest include renewable energy technologies, energy access in off-grid areas, and clean energy deployment policy.

February 26
Carolyn Finney
“Righteous Road: Black Faces, White Spaces & Stories of Possibility”

Carolyn Finney, Ph.D. is a writer, performer and cultural geographer. As a professor in Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley, she explores how issues of difference impact participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues.

Although Carolyn pursed an acting career for eleven years, a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. Informed by her early life experiences, the aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action.

Carolyn has appeared on the Tavis Smiley show, MSNBC, NPR and has been interviewed for numerous newspapers and magazines. Along with public speaking, writing and consulting, she serves on the U.S. National Parks Advisory Board that is working to assist the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors explores the relationship of African Americans to the environment and the environmental movement (UNC Press, 2014). For more information see

April 9
John Meyer
“Environmentalism and the Resonance Dilemma”

John M. Meyer is Professor in the Department of Politics, Environmental Studies, and Environment and Community at Humboldt State University. His new book is Engaging the Everyday: Environmental Social Criticism and the Resonance Dilemma (MIT Press, 2015). He is also co-editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory.

April 16
Beckie Menten
“Community Choice, Community Power: An In-Depth Look at California’s Emerging Model for Local Electricity Control”

Beckie Menten is the Energy Efficiency Director for Marin Clean Energy (MCE). She designs, develops, and delivers efficiency programs in the MCE service area. Beckie has an extensive background in both energy efficiency and local government, having worked at the city, county, and state level to design efficiency programs and research best practices in energy efficiency.

Prior to joining the MCE team, Beckie was most recently the Program Manager for the Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings program at the California Energy Commission. Beckie also served as the efficiency financing lead at the Energy Commission and brings considerable expertise in evaluating innovative ideas for enabling investment in energy efficiency.Prior to working with the Energy Commission, Beckie worked with the Demand Side Management group of the California Public Utilities Commission.

Beckie has a master of science degree in Environmental Systems from Humboldt State University, where her thesis research focused on development of a seven-county regional Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program on the north coast of California; she received a Switzer Fellowship for her work on the PACE program.

April 30
Janet Fiskio
“Welcome to Blockadia: Poetics and Protest in Climate Activism”

Janet Fiskio is Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College. Her research and teaching focus on collaborative, community-based work in food justice and climate activism. She is currently finishing a book project, Counter Friction: Poetics, Performance, and Protest in Climate Justice.

Fall 2014

Spring 2014

Fall 2013

Spring 2013

Fall 2012

Spring 2012

Fall 2011

Spring 2011

Fall 2010

Spring 2010