2018 Washington D.C. Dialogue

Robert Little
Elliot Gerson, Karen Seto and Anthony Leiserowitz share the stage in Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C., the Dialogue hosted the first in what will be a series of national events. Co-hosted by the Aspen Institute, the event examined the “pathways to a sustainable future” from the perspectives of two YSE faculty members: Anthony Leiserowitz, a senior research scientist and director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and Karen Seto, the Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization.

Leiserowitz discussed trends in climate change knowledge and attitudes in the U.S. public, the extent to which American support clean energy policies, and strategies that could help build political will for climate action. Seto discussed the rapid pace of urbanization worldwide and its implications for protecting the world’s ecosystems, agricultural lands, climate, and biodiversity.

In addition to the series of national events, the Dialogue will also produce a book, “Reimagining Environmental Protection for the 21st Century: Big Ideas for a Sustainable Future,” in Fall 2019 that will incorporate the writings of more than two-dozen leading thinkers on the most pressing environmental issues.
“Reimagining Environmental Protection,” which will be published by Yale University Press, will offer a timely menu of fresh thinking and forward-looking solutions. The book’s lessons and recommendations will be of interest to political leaders, business executives, environmental group advocates, government officials, journalists, scholars, and the public at large.

In February, those authors will be invited to participate in a workshop at Yale in which these “big ideas” will be discussed, debated and, ultimately, strengthened.

During the kickoff event in Washington, Daniel Esty, the Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale and editor of “Reimagining Environmental Protection,”said the Dialogue initiative is happening at an important moment. “There is a chance to bring fresh thinking to bear, to bring innovative thoughts into the conversation, and to try to shape and influence both the public dialogue and the policy conversation that flows from that,” he said.

“There is a real need… for serious conversation, to dig into hard topics — including among people who don’t agree and come at [these issues] from different perspectives. And that is part of the effort we’re going to undertake over the next couple of years.”