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For Immediate Release:
September 23, 2013
Media Contact:
Cathy Guerra

''Speaking Sustainably'' Free Lecture Series at the Deering Estate at Cutler

South Florida is host to some of the richest natural resources in the world. The balance of human and natural systems in our growing urban community is central to political, cultural, and academic dialogues regarding the environment. Hosted by FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) and the Deering Estate at Cutler, “Speaking Sustainably” is a lecture series offered free to the public to engage the community with critical environmental issues of the twenty-first century and to inspire action. Lectures are held at the Visitor Center at the Deering Estate at Cutler and are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Topic: Natural Climate Variability: Contextualizing Persistent Drought

Presenter: Dr. Robert Burgman, Assistant Professor, FIU Department of Earth and Environment

The persistent drought conditions of the 2010- 2013 Southern United States drought have cost states billions in agricultural, livestock, and wildfire losses. Dr. Robert Burgman will discuss this extreme and persistent drought in the context of natural climate variability on inter-annual to multi-decadal timescales.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Topic: Urban Environments: A Bird’s-eye view
Presenter: Dr. John Withey, Assistant Professor, FIU Department of Biological Sciences

Balancing land-use change, climate change, and invasive species, South Florida is an ideal microcosm for urban ecologists to study the relationship between society and the environment. Dr. John Withey’s research focuses on how native and non-native birds respond to habitat and land use changes and each other. Dr. Withey will discuss the ecological value parks and reserves provide the avian residents and visitors, and how better design can create urban environments that benefit both human and natural systems.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Topic: Global Climate Change and Tropical Forests: Adapt, Migrate, or Die
Presenter: Dr. Kenneth Feeley, Assistant Professor, FIU Department of Biological Sciences

In the face of ongoing climate change, species are faced with limited options to avoid habitat loss or extinction: adapt, migrate, or die. Ken Feeley’s research focuses on tropical forests which harbor the majority of the Earth’s species and are facing especially rapid rates of climate change. Dr. Feeley will discuss why migration may be the only option for many of these tropical tree species, the inevitable realities of climate change and deforestation, and how as a society we can make better decisions to salvage and protect what is left. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Topic: Macroalgae: Hidden Colors of the Sea
Presenter: Dr. Ligia Collado-Vides, Lecturer-Researcher, FIU Department of Biological Sciences

Our coastal systems are changing in various ways and responding to disparate stressors and contexts. Dr. Ligia Collado-Vides’s present research focuses on understanding the shift of coral and sea grass dominated communities into macroalgae dominated communities as a result of changes at global and local scales. Dr. Collado-Vides, a marine botanist, will discuss the link between research results and applications in marine conservation, and her lab’s partnership with the Tropical Botanic Artists to present a unique bio-art exhibit which blends science and art to engage and inspire the community.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Topic: Literature, Modern Thought, and the Environment
Presenter: Dr. Michael Gillespie, Professor, FIU Department of English & Director, FIU Center for Humanities in an Urban Environment

Literature has had a profound impact on modern thought, culture, and values. Many of the social, political, and environmental norms we currently take for granted sprung from the pages of novels such as Walden, Frankenstein, and Finnegans Wake to name few. Dr. Michael Gillespie will discuss the impact of literature on the cultural subconscious and how we think about our environment and place in the world. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Topic: Striking a Balance: The Future of Coral Reef Ecosystems
Presenter: Dr. Deron Burkepile, Assistant Professor, FIU Department of Biological Sciences

Deron Burkepile’s research focuses on how widespread changes in human systems endanger the integrity of ecosystems world-wide, particularly coral reefs. Dr. Burkepile will discuss the current status of coral reefs as well as how alterations in human communities and activities trigger a ripple effect which has the potential to alter the productivity and balance of these marine ecosystems.

About the Deering Estate at Cutler

The Deering Estate at Cutler, a Miami-Dade County Park, is located at 16701 SW 72 Avenue in Miami. This 444-acre natural and archeological preserve and historic site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a center for education, culture and recreation. Historic house tours are offered daily at 10:30 am & 3:00 pm. Natural areas tours are offered daily at 12:30 pm (October – May). EcoAdventure Tours are also offered throughout the year for an additional fee. For more information on the Deering Estate's educational and cultural programs, please visit

About the FIU School of Environment, Arts and Society

As a part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) unites socially and environmentally-oriented faculty in an effort to better understand and address the challenges that arise from the interaction between human and environmental systems. Faculty in SEAS are invested in understanding how factors from both systems affect the environment, because long-term sustainability can only be achieved if human societies understand their impact in and responsibility toward these natural systems. The academic core of SEAS consists of the Departments of Biological Sciences, Earth and Environment, and English. Through research, education, and an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas, SEAS strives to bring about positive, tangible changes on local, national and international levels.