The Wallace Stegner Center annually holds a symposium during spring semester on an environmental or natural resources topic of regional, national, and international importance. The symposium is interdisciplinary in nature, and includes speakers from the sciences and social sciences, academia, government, industry, and the legal profession.
Through the symposia and other programs, the Stegner Center has brought numerous luminaries to the College of Law, including Bruce Babbitt, Sally Jewell, Wendell Berry, Helen Caldicott, Jane Goodall, Bill McKibben, Pat Mulroy, Naomi Oresekes, Lynn Scarlett, George Schaller, Michael Soule, Sandra Steingraber, Lawrence Susskind, Rebecca Watson, Terry Tempest Williams, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Eric Freyfogle, John Leshy, Patty Limerick, Pamela Matson, Zygmunt Plater, Robert V. Percival, Joe Sax, Paul Schullery, Alan Weisman, and Charles Wilkinson among others.
The R. Harold Burton Foundation was the founding donor for the symposium in 1996 and has been the principal donor each year. Other donors who have provided support for multiple years include the Cultural Vision Fund, Chevron, the Nature Conservancy in Utah, and ABA SEER.
Wallace Stegner Center 28th Annual Symposium
The Future of the Great Salt Lake | March 16-17, 2023
The Stegner Center’s 28th annual symposium on March 16-17, 2023, focused on the Great Salt Lake. One of the world's largest hypersaline lakes, the Great Salt Lake is on the verge of collapse due to climate change, drought, and population pressures that have reduced inflows and shrunk the lake by more than two-thirds. The Great Salt Lake has been in the media lately, not only locally, but nationally and internationally given the unique nature of the lake and the grave risks to human health—referred to by the New York Timesas “Utah’s environmental nuclear bomb”—that would result from the toxic dust of a desiccated lakebed.
Day one considered the state of the lake and factors leading to its decline. The symposium then focused on the risks to human health and the millions of migratory birds dependent on the lake, along with economic impacts, if this ecosystem collapses. Day two focused on solutions to preserve the lake with presentations by scientists, water policy experts, politicians, community leaders, and others.
Keynote and Stegner Lectures include the following presentations. All symposium presentations are available below.
A Perspective from the Governor’s Office (Keynote)
Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox
Great Salt Lake: The Key to Our Past and Future (Keynote)
Brad Wilson, Speaker of the House, Utah House of Representative
What’s at Stake? (Keynote)
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall
A Perspective from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Keynote)
Christopher Waddell, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Framing the Problem: Causes and Consequences of a Shrinking Great Salt Lake (Stegner Lecture)
Kevin D. Perry, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Utah
The Great Salt Lake Food Chains: Fragility and Resiliency (Stegner Lecture)
Bonnie K. Baxter, Ph.D., Director, Great Salt Lake Institute; Professor of Biology, Westminster College