Notre Dame Forum to explore sustainable energy

Author: Julie Hail Flory


Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, General Electric Co. (GE) chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Immelt, Sustainable South Bronx founder Majora Carter and Ernest Moniz, Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be the featured panelists participating Sept. 24 (Wednesday) in the fourth Notre Dame Forum.

TitledSustainable Energy: A Notre Dame Forum,the event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Joyce Center on the University of Notre Dame campus and will explore how charting pathways to a sustainable energy future is emerging as one of the worlds great challenges. It also will examine underlying concerns, including technological, environmental, economic, political and geopolitical issues, as well as social justice and ethical considerations.

The forum will be moderated by Anne Thompson, chief environmental affairs correspondent for NBC News and a 1979 Notre Dame graduate.

Building on current institutional initiatives, issues addressed in the forum will extend across multiple disciplines with the aim of engaging the entire University community to embark upon a thoughtful and comprehensive course of sustainability in individual choices, institutional practices, intellectual life and research, and civic commitments.

Pope Benedict XVI recently called attention to the worlds growing energy needs and ‘the unprecedented race for available resources,said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dames president.He expressed special concern for regions of the world in which development is blocked by rising energy costs and scarce energy sources, and he urged nations to continue their dialogue and search for more efficient ways to consume and invest in resources.

These views are among many that are beginning to emerge at the intersection of energy utilization and Catholic social teaching. How do Western nations, and the United States in particular, reconcile their consumption with the energy poverty afflicting billions of people in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia? Is there a sustainable energy future that can maintain an acceptable standard of living for all humans without jeopardizing the environment and future generations?

The distinguished and provocative panelists will present their individual perspectives on sustainable energy, then will participate in an open discussion.

Elected as Colorados 41st governor in 2006, Ritter has quickly established the state as a national and international leader on energy issues. By maximizing the states abundant supplies of traditional and renewable energy resources, he is crafting a responsible statewide energy plan, diversifying Colorados energy portfolio, creating new economic and job opportunities, and addressing environmental challenges such as climate change.

Ritter has doubled Colorados renewable energy standard, requiring that 20 percent of the states electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, and issued the states first climate action plan. He is attracting new alternative-energy companies, jobs, investments and research to the state, including Denmark-based Vestas Blades, which opened its first North American manufacturing plant there earlier this year, and ConocoPhillips, which soon will be opening its global alternative-fuels research and development center in Colorado.

The ninth chairman of GE, Immelt has held several global leadership positions since joining the company in 1982, including roles in GEs plastics, appliance and medical businesses. In 1989 he became an officer and joined the GE Capital Board in 1997. In 2000, he was appointed president and chief executive officer.

Immelt has been named one of theWorld’s Best CEOsthree times by Barrons and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been namedAmerica’s Most Admired Companyin a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one ofThe World’s Most Respected Companiesin polls by Barrons and the Financial Times. He also is a member of The Business Council and of the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. He was the principal speaker at Notre Dames 2007 Commencement and received an honorary degree from the University.

Born and raised in the South Bronx, where she still lives, Carters career has taken her around the world in pursuit of resources and ideas to improve the quality of life in environmentally challenged communities. She founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 after writing a $1.25 million federal transportation grant to design the South Bronx Greenway, which includes 11 miles of bike and pedestrian paths connecting the rivers and neighborhoods to each other and to the rest of the city. That project secured more than $20 million in funds to begin construction this year.

Carter began 2007 as one of Newsweeks25 To Watch,and ended the year as one of Essence magazines25 most Influential African-Americans.The New York Post has named her one of the50 Most Influential Women in NYCfor the past two years, and the BBC World Service named herNYCs Most Influential Environmentalist.She is a board member of the Wilderness Society and currently is recording a special National Public Radio series calledThe Promised Landfor release this year.

Moniz served as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy from 1997 to 2001 and from 1995 to 1997 as associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, where his responsibilities spanned the physical, life and social and behavioral sciences, science education and university-government partnerships.

At MIT, Moniz has served as head of the Department of Physics and as director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His principal research contributions have been in theoretical nuclear physics, particularly in advancing nuclear reaction theory at high energy. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Humboldt Foundation, and the American Physical Society, he also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He received the 1998 Seymour Cray HPCC Industry Recognition Award for vision and leadership in advancing scientific simulation.

The Notre Dame Forum assembles world leaders on campus in discussion of the leading issues of the day.The forum seeks to engage all campus constituents in these important conversations to better formulate solutions and effect positive change.Past topics have included immigration, the global health crisis and the role of religious faith in a plural world.

More information onSustainable Energy: A Notre Dame Forumis available on the Web at .

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