Envisioning a Sustainable Planet
Fall 2016


The world of 2050 will be radically different. It is not at all clear how we will get there from here or how we should navigate through the uncharted waters of the future. Climate change, urbanization, rapid expansion of the Internet and the availability and use of information, the continued evolution of human identity, and changing modes of commerce, cooperation, and conflict from local to global scales are just some of the many trends influencing the future. Each poses many challenges and opportunities for how we perceive and shape our world’s geography now and in coming decades.

To help lay the foundation for exploring these local, regional and global challenges—and the investments in technology, data, laws, policies, and capacities needed to improve our ability to navigate through them—the American Geographical Society is collaborating with the Earth Institute, Columbia University to organize an “Expedition to the Future.”

Topics and Speakers

Day 1
Mapping Global Ecosystems – An Ecosystems Geography Approach

Dr. Roger Sayre, Senior Scientist, The U.S. Geological Survey

Living Oceans for the Blue Plane

Mr. Chip Cunliffe, Director of Environmental Science Programs and Education, XL Catlin

Ms. Anika Ballent, Education Coordinator, Algalita Marine Research and Education

Dr. Denise Breitburg, Senior Scientist, The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Dr. Serge Dedina, Mayor, Imperial Beach, California

Iconic Species: Sharks, Birds, Elephants and Buffalo

Dr. Deborah Popper, Professor, College of Staten Island and Princeton University

Dr. Meredith Gore, Jefferson Science Fellow, U.S. Department of State

Dr. Ryan Orgera, Lecturer of Geography, The George Washington University

Prof. Michael Steinberg, Associate Professor, University of Alabama

Remote Sensing And the Impact on Sustainability

Dr. Walter Scott, Founder, DigitalGlobe

The Near-Horizon Future of Conservation and the National Parks

Dr. Gary Machlis Science Advisor to the Director, National Park Service

Protection, Management, and Restoration of Future Forests

Dr. Juha Uitto, Director, The Independent Evaluation Office of The Global Environment Facility

Ms. Elizabeth Goldman, GIS Research Associate, The Global Forest Watch

Dr. Michael Mann, Assistant Professor of Geography, The George Washington University

Ms. Jessica Webb, Civil Society Specialist, The Global Forest Watch

Day 2
Conservation and Indigenous Peoples

Dr. Vince McElhinny, Senior Director of Social Policy and Practice Department, Conservation International

Mr. Yance Arizona, Executive Director, Epistema Institute

Dr. Myrna Cunningham, Past Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Dr. Peter Herlihy, Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Science, University of Kansas

How Geospatial Technology Can Enhance Sustainability and Security

Dr. Alexander Murphy, Professor of Geography, University of Oregon

Mr. Robert Cardillo, Director, The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Ms. Susan Gordon, Deputy Director, The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Success in Sustainability in 2050

Mr. William Reilly, Former Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

What if People Mattered?

Dr. Robert Chen, Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University

Dr. Gary Machlis,Science Advisor to the Director, National Park Service

Prof. Brent McCusker, Associate Chair of Geography, University of West Virginia

Powering Our Future

Dr. Wesley Reisser, Senior Foreign Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of State

Dr. Philip Sharp, Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Ms. Cela Sinay-Bernie, Managing Director, Altus Power America

Making Cities Sustainable

Dr. Lisa Benton-Short, Senior Fellow, The George Washington University Sustainability Collaborative

Dr. Craig Colten, The Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography, Louisiana State University

Dr. Robert McDonald, Lead Scientist for Global Cities, The Nature Conservancy

Ms. Breece Robertson, National GIS Director, The Trust for Public Land


Coming soon.