Campus Life

Feb. 10 lecture focuses on sustainability and indigenous resource management

Anthropologist Bill Durham explains cultural and social changes necessary for humanity to co-exist with nature

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Just as scientist Charles Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Islands brought substantial insight into the processes of natural selection and evolution, the Galapagos Islands of today continue to offer lessons about the social and cultural changes necessary for humanity to coexist with the natural resources of the planet.

Addressing these topics, Stanford University anthropology professor Bill Durham will present his lecture, “The Galapagos Challenge: Stewardship in an Evolving Socio-ecological System,” at 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, in Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, on Penn State’s University Park campus. The lecture will also be available worldwide on Mediasite Live.

Durham, a MacArthur Fellow who has taught human biology and anthropology at Stanford since 1977, has conducted approximately 40 trips to the Galapagos. At the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, he also co-directs the Osa-Golfito Initiative (INOGO) in Costa Rica, which works with local partners to develop a strategy for sustainable human development in the southern region of the country.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Interinstitutional Center for Indigenous Knowledge; the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC); the Travel and Tourism Graduate Student Association; Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment; Latin American Studies; and Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management Seminar Series. The Travel and Tourism Graduate Student Association voted as a group to invite Durham to campus to speak about his extensive research in such pertinent topics as sustainable development, conservation, and local autonomy. Durham is widely admired for his ability to communicate complicated global issues in an intriguing, practical manner.

Durham’s lecture will focus on the evolution of a novel co-management system for the sea cucumber and lobster fisheries of Galapagos, which could become a stewardship example for the archipelago — and possibly the world.

In the words of Darwin, the Galapagos Islands are a “little world within itself.” For Durham, this leads to an urgent question: “If we can’t save this ‘world within itself,’ what can we save?” As a symbolic microcosm of the conservation and development dilemmas facing planet Earth, Galapagos represents a “socio-ecological system” with continuous, tight linkages between its biophysical and social components.

In the Galapagos, over-harvesting of the spiny lobster and sea cucumber in the early 1990s left both species severely depleted, while bans and limits on catches posed a threat to local fishers. These actions, and the resulting tensions, dramatically affected Galapagos with the potential of collapsing both the economy and the ecology. Collaborative efforts not only preserved and protected the two species, but also identified ecotourism as a viable industry that would support and promote sustainability.

For more information on this event, or for questions about accommodations and the physical access provided, contact Mark Mattson, global partnerships and outreach librarian, at 814-863-2480 or in advance of your visit.

Renowned anthropologist and Stanford University professor Bill Durham will present his lecture “The Galapagos Challenge: Stewardship in an Evolving Socio-ecological System," which focuses on a novel co-management system for two species in the Galapagos. This system could become a stewardship example for the archipelago, and possibly the world. Credit: provided by Bill DurhamAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated February 15, 2017