A Big Talk is Coming Up!

Attention, everyone! Just so you know, Michael Klemens, a man with over 30 years of research in the environment will be hosting a lecture called “Economic Stewardship: Encouraging Communities to Protect the Commons” on April 11th from 6:00-7:30 pm in the Alumni Lounge of Ramapo College. The full details of what he’ll be talking about are listed below. Check it out!



Creating a Sustainable World: Voices of Key Practitioners

A series of seven presentations at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Spring term 2013

Back by Popular Demand, MASS: Masters of Arts in Sustainability Studies Presents:

Empowering Communities to Protect the Commons”

Conservation biologist and community advocate, Michael W. Klemens, has been a pioneer in developing
models of mutual learning between communities and scientists. These models integrate local (i.e.,
indigenous) knowledge with expert investigation, thereby empowering informed communities to
become both good stewards of their natural capital and advocates for a more sustainable future. His
approach creates a foundation for action, focusing on improved ecosystem resilience to adapt to the
ever-changing conditions accelerated by poorly- designed development and climate change, often
abetted by governmental inertia. He states that “in order to improve our ability to be resilient, we
must learn how to make our development footprint lighter and to place development in a manner that
respects the natural infra-structure that each community is blessed with. The challenge is to inform
and motivate the community to become engaged stewards of the commons, and to discard notions of
oppositional thinking that one must choose between human progress and healthy ecosystems.” Most
urgently, it is a process of social learning that informs and improves the quality of local decision-making
confronted with continued pressure for ill-informed patterns of development, colloquially referred to as

Michael W. Klemens received his doctorate in conservation biology and ecology at the University of
Kent UK and has worked as Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and is on
the scientific staff of the American Museum of Natural History. Thirty years of research have taken Dr.
Klemens from the theoretical study of the distribution of amphibians and reptiles to the realization that
the only hope for sustaining these species and other forms of biological diversity is to bridge the chasm
between conservation science theory and land use planning practice. To that end, Klemens founded
the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance (MCA) as a vehicle to translate biological data and conservation
concepts into planning tools for local and regional application, empowering communities to develop
more sustainable patterns of growth. He strongly advocates that scientists have an ethical responsibility
to actively engage in community-based learning efforts to achieve these goals. He has chaired local
planning commissions in both New York and Connecticut. MCA’s work in the NY-NJ-CT Tri-State Region
has created collaborations between a broad range of stakeholders, joined by a common goal to chart a

more secure and ecologically robust future. Klemens’ books included the co-edited volume Nature in
Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl (Columbia University Press).

For more information: Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Psychology, Programs in
Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Ramapo College of N.J. medelste@ramapo.edu