Chatham’s Falk School debuts Rachel Carson Visiting Scholar series


From left, Dr. Steven Latta and Zygmunt Plater present at Eden Hall.

Sara Parker

Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability and Environment ‏welcomed Zygmunt Plater, Esq. of Boston College, as well as local sustainability professionals, to hold Oct. 13 the Collaboration on Conservation panel event in the Esther Barazzone Center at Eden Hall.

The new Rachel Carson Visiting Scholars program seeks to connect students with interdisciplinary sustainability academics and allows these academics to experience life at Eden Hall to give themselves and the greater Chatham community a new perspective.

Dr. Lou Leonard speaks at the Rachel Carson Visiting Scholar program. Photo Credit: Sara Parker

The event – attended by Chatham students, faculty, staff and regional community members – gave way for casual presentations on conservation topics and networking opportunities within the community.

Plater is the Falk School’s first Rachel Carson Visiting Scholar. He’s gained attention as a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case TVA v. Hill, a landmark case for the Endangered Species Act. He is a published author and has acted as a legal consultant regarding both the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon oil spills. Additionally, he was the law professor to Dr. Lou Leonard, dean of the Falk School.

The Rachel Carson Visiting Scholar program is an extension of the Falk School’s new “Communities of Practice” including food, sustainable business, equitable and sustainable communities, environmental creative writing and conservation. These scholars will take residence at Eden Hall for about two weeks at a time, giving lectures, living and working among students.   

Though the program has just launched, Dr. Leonard hopes to have four to five visiting scholars per year in the future – one for each community of practice. 

“We don’t have all the answers,” said Leonard, as he explained the importance of bringing in external perspectives on sustainability. “It’ll help our students build relationships with others by bringing these accomplished and attractive figures to campus.”

“Biodiversity of thinking is really important. You don’t have to know everything, but you have to know how to ask, to listen and to put things together,” Plater said. “Sustainability is one of the most important essentials of our society and is one of the least honored.”

Plater will be at Eden Hall for a Communities of Practice bonfire from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18. He will also be giving a lecture, titled “Conversation with a Conservationist,” at the Shadyside Campus from 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19.

For graduate students, there will be a chance to listen to music and grab a drink with Plater at Grad Happy Hour from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20.

Zygmunt Plater speaks at Eden Hall. Photo Credits: Sara Parker

To learn more about these and other events at Eden Hall, visit the happenings page on