See Green Fire

The new movie about Aldo Leopold, Yale FES' acclaimed alumnus, and his continued significance for our time.


In 1909, Aldo Leopold graduated from what was at the time the newly born “Yale Forest School,” and joined the first generation of professional foresters in the nation. Leopold entered a career with the U.S. Forest Service and left for his first post at the Apache National Forest in Arizona. He went on to become one of the leading and most radical voices in American conservation, launching his land ethic in his celebrated A Sand County Almanac. From his beginnings as a steward of natural resources, he came to believe that nature has rights independent of people, and that the fate of humanity is intimately linked with the health of the land. He also held out little hope that the current economic model of perpetual growth could be sustainable for society, much less nature.

On April 3rd, 2009, Yale F&ES hosted a symposium and celebration honoring Leopold’s time at Yale and his acclaimed contributions to environmental conservation. The day-long symposium appraised Leopold’s legacy and examined how his land ethic might be reformulated for the global environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Roundtables with audience participation revolved around short presentations by Leopold scholars, as well as practitioners who have put Leopold’s ethics into practice. Featured themes included Leopold’s place in American environmental history, and his contributions to philosophy, ethics, and natural resource management. Conferees were challenged to answer the question: What advice would Leopold give to this year’s graduating class? In the spirit of Leopold himself, we meant to be provocative and bold, to consider his contributions outside the box of the traditional land ethic and explore what he might say to us today in our hard economic times about our values and how to reshape them to create a more just and sustainable civilization.

The venue was the school’s new and super-green headquarters, Kroon Hall. Tours were available of Kroon and Marsh Hall, where Leopold took classes. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. The day concluded with a private preview of GreenFire, a new movie, still in production, about Leopold’s life, followed by a reception at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Netcasts and written transcripts of the symposium roundtable discussions are available here. If you prefer, you may access the recordings on iTunes.  Simply go to Yale on iTunes U, click on "Environment" and scroll down to episodes 47-51.

We are honored to have partnered with the Aldo Leopold Foundation for this event.