Author and educator to present next lecture in college’s symposium at Ashland


Author, researcher and educator Bill Vitek will present a lecture titled “The Perennial Imagination and the Creative Ground: Cultivating Deep Roots in Land and People” on Tuesday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Trustees’ Room of Myers Convocation Center on the Ashland University campus.

The lecture is the next event in the Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences’ biennial Symposium Against Indifference. The theme for this year’s series is “Environmental Sustainability.” The event is free and open to the public.

Vitek will explain the “invention” of agriculture 12,000 years ago, which marked a profound shift in how food calories were produced and consumed. With it came new ideas about how best to live in complex cultures fueled by an unprecedented energy bounty. He will trace the development of three distinct periods in this history, with a focus on the last two centuries and the awakening of a new consciousness about our place on a living, creative planet, and its potential to reshape food production.

With the material means and the philosophical foundations now available as sources of sustenance for body and mind, Vitek will ask the questions: Will we embrace an ecospheric worldview? Must we?

Vitek’s research and writing is focused at the intersection of social practices and the environmental, cultural and historical contexts in which they occur. His current focus is on the substantial cultural and social changes that will be necessary — in our lifetimes — to live without easy access to cheap, carbon-based energy in the form of soils, forests, oil, natural gas and coal.

Publishing in the areas of environmental ethics and civic philosophy, he is the author of the book Promising; and the co-editor of three books: Applying Philosophy (with Terrell Ward Bynum); Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place (with Wes Jackson); and The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability and the Limits of Knowledge (with Wes Jackson). He is the author of popular essays and articles on professional ethics, community, and public life; and is currently writing a book of his own essays titled Post-Carbon Sense.

Vitek is professor of Philosophy and chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Clarkson University. He co-founded and directed Clarkson’s Environmental Science & Policy Program, and was associate director of Clarkson’s Center for the Environment. In 2001-2002, he directed Clarkson’s Sustainability Initiative. Vitek has won numerous teaching and advising awards at Clarkson, including the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Phalanx Award for “outstanding leadership qualities and quality participation in organizations with Clarkson and the Potsdam community.” In 2007, he was a Visiting Scholar with The Center for Humans and Nature and with The Land Institute.

With a B.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Union College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Vitek is also a jazz pianist. Coincidentally, his visit to Ashland is the same week as the University’s annual jazz festival. He co-wrote and co-produced three collections of jazz nursery rhymes. “Rhythm and Rhymes” (1982) was awarded an American Library Association “Notable Children’s Recording,” and the Oppenheim Gold Seal “Best Audio Award.” “Go with the Flow” (1994) was awarded Family Life’s Critic’s Choice Award. He currently performs with bassist Dan Gagliardi. They recently released “A Fine Line,” a collection of jazz classics.

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