Xavier Magazine

Academic Perspective

The list of high-profile campus visitors continued to grow this fall as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. kicked off the Ethics/Religion and Society lecture series with a talk on “Our Environmental Destiny.” Kennedy is a passionate defender of the environment, even garnering Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” label for his success in helping the group Riverkeeper fight to restore the Hudson River.

Kennedy is the chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper organization, in addition to serving as senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a professor and attorney at Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic.

The demand for tickets to see Kennedy was so high, his lecture had to be moved from the James and Caroline Duff Banquet Center to the Cintas Center arena floor. The lecture was the first in this year’s Ethics/Religion and Society Lecture Series, which focuses on socially significant issues as applied to the E/RS portion of the academic curriculum. This year’s theme is global climate change.

Drawing from his extensive environmental experience as well as his storied political background, he stood before the crowd and argued the importance of good environmental practices—particularly meeting the crowd where its mind was mostly focused: the economy.

Polluters, he said, are not forced to bear most of the costs of their actions—climate change, contaminated air and water—leaving the taxpayers to shoulder most of that burden. And, the pursuit of alternative energy and moving toward carbon neutrality reduces our dependence on foreign oil, which bolsters our own economic stability.

“Good environmental policy equals good economic policy,” he said.

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