RWU Kicks Off “State of the Ocean” Series with Lecturer, Book Examining Impact of Sea-Level Rise

As author of Common Reading 2018 book, investigative journalist Jeff Goodell to share insights on how to prevent environmental disaster on Oct. 2

Jeff Goodell and book
Public Affairs

BRISTOL, R.I. – Sea-level rise is one of the most pressing issues of our time, bringing with it potentially devastating impacts on the environment and humanity. As a campus surrounded by water and in a state where most of the population lives near water, Roger Williams University will examine this critical issue through a year-long series of events, titled “Ocean State/State of the Ocean: The Challenge of Sea-Level Rise Over the Coming Century.”

Throughout the fall and spring semesters, RWU will lead a campus-wide conversation on this topic through a multitude of ways, incorporating the issue into courses and engaged learning projects, and bringing in guest lecturers and panel discussions.

For the first event opening the conversation, the campus community is invited on Tuesday, Oct. 2, to spend an evening with Jeff Goodell, author of The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World. An acclaimed writer and investigative journalist, Goodell will share his scientific research and on-the-ground reporting on climate change, while offering his perspective on how to stem the tide of environmental disaster – and what’s at stake if we fail to act. Goodell’s work challenges us to consider our role in shaping the future of our planet.

“Roger Williams University is committed to fostering better understanding of the great challenges that face the modern world,” Interim President Andy Workman said. “We are proud to be able to bring the perspectives from multiple fields of knowledge to bear on one of the biggest problems that humanity will confront in the coming decades and invite citizens from around the state to join our students in learning how to address it.”

Goodell is the author of this year’s RWU Common Reading program book, which brings together the campus community to read and share discourse on a selected work.

“The RWU Common Reading Program annually selects a text aligned with the theme for the year. First-year students are introduced to the text over the summer and return to campus in the fall ready to engage in classroom discussions and related programming,” Vice Provost Robert Shea said. “As a key component of their college transition, the Common Reading Program helps foster the development of our students as the engaged citizens the world needs now.”

A review in The New York Times praised The Water Will Come as “an immersive, mildly gonzo and depressingly well-timed book about the drenching effects of global warming, and a powerful reminder that we can bury our heads in the sand about climate change for only so long before the sand itself disappears.” 

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World was selected as the New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017, one of The Washington Post’s 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction in 2017, and one of Booklist’s Top 10 Science Books of 2017.

Goodell is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and Yale University’s Environment 360. He serves on the board of the McHarg Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design. He speaks on sea-level rise, geoengineering and climate change, coal, and America’s energy future.

Goodell’s Oct. 2 presentation will take place at RWU’s Bristol campus in the Campus Recreation Center Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. A book signing will immediately follow. Attendance is required for all first-year students and open to the entire RWU community, with limited seats available to the greater community. Depending on attendance, some attendees may be seated in an overflow location.

More events will be announced as the university explores the issue of sea-level rise throughout the year.