MHC to host science and public advocacy talks

Shaughnessy Naughton and Robert K. Musil will be speaking at Mount Holyoke as part of a speaker series on Science, the Environment and Advocacy.

By Sasha Nyary 

Two experts in science and public advocacy will speak at Mount Holyoke College this fall. 

Shaughnessy Naughton, an entrepreneur, chemist and former Congressional candidate who founded 314 Action, will speak on “The Science of Creating a Political Movement” on Thursday, September 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Gamble Auditorium. 

Robert K. Musil, president and CEO of the Rachel Carson Council, will give two public talks during his three-day visit to campus. In his first talk, “Is Anybody Listening? Lessons From a Life in Advocacy,” he will discuss his insights on effective organizing, communications and lobbying. This talk is scheduled for Tuesday, October 3, at 4:30 p.m. in Dwight 101. 

Musil’s second talk, “The Legacy of Rachel Carson: Empathy and Environmental Justice,” will explore the fair distribution of environmental benefits and responsibilities and advocating for them politically, economically and institutionally. It is slated for Thursday, October 5, at 4:30 p.m. in Gamble Auditorium. 

These talks are part of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment’s speaker series on Science, the Environment and Advocacy, in collaboration with the Weissman Center for Leadership. 

“This is a critical moment in history,” said Catherine Corson, the Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the center who is also the Miller Worley Associate Professor of Environmental Studies. “We hope that by hosting these two speakers we will foster discussion on the multiple ways that scientists and individuals who recognize the value of science can be involved in the political process.” 

Naughton founded 314 Action in 2016 after working as a chemist at Wyeth Laboratories and running her family’s small publishing business for a decade. She was inspired to start the organization after an unsuccessful run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District in 2014, during which she observed the lack of scientific backgrounds in members of Congress, the politicization of science, the mocking of basic research and the denial of climate change. 

In addition to working to elect STEM professionals to legislative positions, 314 Action, which is named for pi, the ubiquitous mathematical ratio, also advocates for a pro-science agenda nationally, locally and statewide. 

An active and tireless advocate for environmental issues, Musil is the president and CEO of the Rachel Carson Council, which Carson’s friends and colleagues founded in 1965 after the death of the conservationist and author of “Silent Spring.” Musil is also a senior fellow and adjunct professor at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University, and the former executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility. 

Musil specializes in contemporary global sustainability, security and health issues, as well as Cold War history, culture and policy, and is the author of numerous articles. His books include “Rachel Carson and Her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America’s Environment” and “Washington in Spring: A Nature Journal for a Changing Planet.” He will be available to sign his books. 

These talks are free and open to the public.

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