David W. Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics as well as Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College and executive director of the Oberlin Project.
He is perhaps best known for his pioneering work on environmental literacy in higher education and his leading role in the promising new field of ecological design.
Throughout his career he has served as a board member of or advisor to eight foundations and on the boards of many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. He is a trustee of Bioneers, the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, and the Worldwatch Institute.
He is the author of seven books as well as co-editor of three other titles. His first book, Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World (2005), was described as a “true classic” by Garrett Hardin. A second book, Earth in Mind (1994/2004) was praised by biologist E. O. Wilson and writer, poet, and farmer Wendell Berry. Both books are used in hundreds of colleges and universities. Hope is an Imperative: The Essential David Orr (2011) is a collection of his writings from 1985 to 2010.
Orr is also a man of action. In an influential article “Saving Future Generations From Global Warming” (2000) for the Chronicle of Higher Education, Orr proposed the goal of carbon neutrality for colleges and universities and subsequently organized and funded an effort to define a carbon neutral plan for his own campus at Oberlin. Since then, hundreds of colleges and universities, including Oberlin, have made that pledge.
At Oberlin he spearheaded the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years” and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy. The story of that building is told in two of his books, The Nature of Design (2002), which Fritjof Capra called “brilliant,” and Design on the Edge (2006), which architect Sim van der Ryn describes as “powerful and inspiring.”
Orr holds a B.A. from Westmnister College (UK), an M.A. from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Contact David Orr for speaking terms and dates.