Can Consumption Save the World?

A panel with Dean Cycon, Eleanor Sterling, Paige West and Sandra Goldmark
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
6:30 PM
Event Oval, The Diana Center

From the popularity of fair trade products to the growth of the “sharing economy” and the prevalence of sustainable businesses, consumers and corporations are thinking about our shopping habits in new ways.
  Join a panel of environmentalists, economists, anthropologists, and entrepreneurs as they examine the
 life cycle of the goods we buy—from conception and design to labor and manufacturing, through repair and disposal. How are each of these stages interconnected, and what changes to our consumption habits could truly be impactful? Panelists include Dean Cycon, founder of Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Company, Paige West, Barnard Tow Professor of Anthropology; Sandra Goldmark, Barnard assistant professor of professional practice; and Eleanor Sterling, director of 
the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. Moderated by award-winning journalist, writer and editor Alison Craiglow Hockenberry '88.



Dean Cycon is considered one of the first social justice entrepreneurs. He has been using business as a vehicle for progressive social, environmental and economic change since 1993, when he founded Dean's Beans Organic Coffee. The company utilizes Fair Trade coffee as a vehicle to promote social, ecologic and economic well being in coffee-producing villages in Asia, Africa and the Americas. The company's innovative approach to commerce and development has won many awards, including the 2013 UN Women Community Engagement Award, Best Practices Recognition from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Oslo Business for Peace Award (the "Nobel Prize for Business"). Dean's book, Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee, was awarded the Gold Medal as the Best Travel Essay Book of 2008.

Sandra Goldmark has designed scenery and costumes for numerous productions in New York and regionally. Recent work includes set designs with the award-winning company Transport Group, including their recent revival of The Boys in the Band, nominated for five Drama Desk awards including Outstanding Set Design. In 2013, Sandra and her husband Michael Banta launched Pop Up Repair: an itinerant repair service for household items of all kinds. Founded and staffed by theatre artists, the project provides an alternative - and a challenge - to the cycle of use-and-discard consumer goods. Sandra is a recipient of a 2013 Barnard College President's Research Award to investigate the role of repair in our culture. 

Eleanor Sterling is a scientist with interdisciplinary training in biological and social sciences, and has more than 30 years of field research experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In addition to her research and community engagement activities, she has curated five exhibits at AMNH and is most recently the co-curator of the Museum’s travelling exhibit on the global food system: Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture. Dr. Sterling is a long-time board member of the Center for a New American Dream, an organization that helps Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice. 

Paige West joined the Barnard faculty in 2001, the year after earning her Ph.D. in cultural and environmental anthropology. Dr. West’s general research interest is the relationship between society and the environment. More specifically, she has written about the linkages between environmental conservation and international development, the material and symbolic ways in which the natural world is understood and produced, the aesthetics and poetics of human social relations with nature, and the creation of commodities and practices of consumption. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Australia, Germany, England, and the United States. In 2008, she founded the journal Environment and Society: Advances in Research, which is published by Berghahn Books, and for which she serves as editor. 

Alison Craiglow Hockenberry (Moderator) has 25 years of experience as a writer and producer in television, film, print, radio and web. She has covered human rights issues, domestic politics, social policy, the environment, breaking news stories and major conflicts around the world for ABC News. She is currently working on a documentary about the history of aerospace and its impact on our world. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, and The Christian Science Monitor and on The Independent Film Channel and NPR. She was also Executive Editor at Ashoka Changemakers, a global organization dedicated to social entrepreneurship. Hockenberry is an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her world-saving consumption habits include buying local produce and sustainably harvested fish, shopping at consignment shops and commuting on public transit.

Apr. 2, 2014 - 6:30 PM