Colorado State University to Host Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance May 17-20 in Fort Collins

Colorado State University’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability is the host for this year’s Colorado Conference on Earth System Governance May 17-20 at the university’s Lory Student Center.

Keynote speakers include former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who is now director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State; Oran Young, professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California-Santa Barbara; and Arun Agrawal, professor and associate dean for Research at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. Diana Wall, founding director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, or SoGES, will make opening remarks.

The conference is part of a global series organized by the Earth System Governance Project, a 10-year research program under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change.

Other co-hosts of this event are the SoGES Environmental Governance Working Group and the Earth System Governance Project. For more details, go to

The conference will address topics related to mediating the relationship between humans and the natural world – a daunting task given such environmental issues as climate change, biodiversity loss, water quality and access problems, soil erosion and others.

More specifically, “earth system governance” is defined as the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules and rule-making systems at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies toward preventing, mitigating and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation within the normative context of sustainable development.

“These problems raise questions about the fundamental viability of how humans have organized the relationship between society and nature, creating an urgent need to identify and develop new strategies for steering societies toward a more sustainable relationship with the natural world,” said Michele Betsill, co-chair of the conference and associate professor in the Department of Political Science, who has spent 15 years observing the politics of global climate change.

Other co-chairs of the conference are Tony Cheng, assistant professor of Forest, Rangeland, and Watershed Stewardship; and Pete Taylor, associate professor in the Department of Sociology.

The Earth System Governance Project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change was launched in 2009 to address these problems of environmental governance. The first Earth System Governance conference was held in Amsterdam in December 2009.