Stegner Symposium Addresses the Legacy of Rachel Carson, March 9-10

Mar 01, 2012 | Stegner Center

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is considered one of the foundational texts of the modern environmental movement.  The 1962 book exposed the dangers that pesticides and other toxic chemicals posed to human and environmental health, and led to a transformation of U.S. laws governing those substances.  Earlier works by Carson, a noted scientist and naturalist, introduced millions of readers to the wonders of the ocean and coastal world. On March 9-10, the Wallace Stegner Center’s Seventeenth Annual Stegner Symposium will explore Carson’s substantial influence on modern environmental law, policy, and advocacy. The two-day event will include speakers, panel discussions, a play, and a short film.

“Carson was a highly respected scientist as well as an award-winning author whose achievements have inspired subsequent generations of environmentally concerned citizens,” according to Robert Keiter, Wallace Stegner Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law and Director of the Stegner Center.  “Although Silent Spring was originally attacked by the chemical industry, Carson’s conclusions proved fundamentally sound and awakened the American public to a looming ecological disaster.”

 Presenters at the two-day symposium, which will be held at the University Guest House and Conference Center, 110 S. Fort Douglas Boulevard in Salt Lake City,  include historians, oceanographers, attorneys and law professors, chemists, ecologists, philosophers, playwrights, and others.  From a multi-disciplinary perspective, together they will consider Rachel Carson’s ongoing influence, as well as the condition of her beloved marine environments and the state of toxic chemical regulation.  Keynote speaker Sandra Steingraber will address the topic of “Rachel and Me: Silent Spring, Fracking, and the Birth of the Environmental Human Rights Movement” following a showing of the film “Living Downstream” which documents Steingraber’s own battle with cancer and presents cancer as a human rights issue. Registration is required to attend the symposium.  Visit or call 801-585-3440. 

As a lead-up to the symposium, on Thursday, March 8, the Stegner Center will present the annual Wallace Stegner Lecture by Philip J. Landrigan, MD MSc, the Dean for Global Health and Ethel H. Wise Professor and Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine of Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  Dr. Landrigan’s lecture is titled “The Impact of the Environment on Human Health: The Special Vulnerability of Children.” The 12:15 p.m. presentation will be held in the College of Law’s Sutherland Moot Courtroom. The Wallace Stegner Lecture is free and open to the public.  No registration is required and lunch will be served to attendees.  One hour of CLE is available.