Daffodil Lecture

Daffodil Lecture

On Sustainability and the Environment

The Daffodil Lecture on Sustainability and the Environment is sponsored by the Commonwealth Honors College and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. The theme of the lecture reflects UMass Amherst’s leadership in green research and sustainability, including the development of biofuels and wind energy. The campus has earned recognition for its energy efficiency and green practices, including a 2015 rating as one of The Princeton Review's top 50 most environmentally responsible colleges.

Graphic of a blooming daffodil and text reading: Daffodil Lecture

Save the Date:

Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Ecological Lens: Harnessing Systems Knowledge to Steward Our Planet

Join us with ecological researcher Rebecca Hewitt 

Rebecca Hewitt stands in a vast mountain landscape

Hewitt is an assistant professor of environmental studies at Amherst College. Her research explores the ecology of the belowground environment, especially interactions between soils, microbes, and plant roots, and how these processes affect ecosystem response to environmental change. She investigates these dynamics in northern boreal and tundra ecosystems in Siberia and Alaska, where rapid ecological change is occurring due to anthropogenic climate change. Her current research focuses on the causes of treeline advance in Alaska’s Brooks Range and forest regeneration after wildfire in the Russian Far East. Her recent research has been published in the journals Nature, Functional Ecology, Journal of Ecology, New phytologist, and others with research highlights covered in Wired, High Country News, the Atlantic, and other outlets. At Amherst College, she teaches introductory courses in environmental studies and environmental science, ecosystem ecology, and climate change science. She brings scientific research into each of her courses through experiential field and lab – based data collection, collaborative synthesis projects, and place-based evaluations of social-ecological management strategies. She strives to empower all students to use their scientific understanding as a tool to address issues of environmental concern and to provide a sense of agency in building a sustainable future.

Cosponsored by Phi Kappa Phi

Past Daffodil Lectures:

2022 Daffodil Lecture

Dr. Lloréns drew from her 2021 book, Making Livable Worlds: Afro-Puerto Rican Women Building Environmental Justice in this talk about how Afro–Puerto Rican women have drawn from their cultural knowledge to engage in daily improvisations that enable their communities to survive and thrive while navigating multiple crises. Their life-affirming practices, developed and passed down through generations, offer powerful modes of resistance to gendered and racialized exploitation, ecological ruination, and deepening capitalist extraction. Through solidarity, reciprocity, and an ethics of care, these women create restorative alternatives to dispossession to produce good, meaningful lives for their communities.

Dr. Hilda Llorens stands in a greenhouse on a sunny day

Dr. Lloréns is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Rhode Island (URI), and the author of Imaging The Great Puerto Rican Family: Framing Nation, Race, and Gender during the American Century, and numerous other books and articles. The thread that binds her scholarship is understanding how racial and gender inequality manifest itself in cultural production, nation building, access to environmental resources, and exposure to environmental degradation.

Dr. Lloréns’ research has been centrally concerned with critiquing structural inequalities and dismantling taken for granted notions of power. At URI, she teaches core courses in anthropology, such as Anthropological Theory, Language & Culture, Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Latinas/Latinos/Latinxs, and Gender & Culture, among others. Read more about her here


Ecological Knowledge and Sustainable Practices in Afro-Puerto Rico


2021 Daffodil Lecture


Seeking the Justice in Environmental and Sustainability Work

 How Far We've Come and Where We Go

A pre-recorded lecture 


Notions of race and justice are increasingly part of the lexicon of sustainability, but what does this entail? In a time when we are engaged in deep discussions about what it means to be anti-racist, it is important to see not only where this practice fits into conversations about sustainability, but also how it takes shape. Olivia Aguilar, associate professor of environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College, will examine the history of the environmental field and notions of sustainability and how this field, like others, became entrenched in an exclusionary practice, much to its own detriment.



Olivia Aguilar, PhD, is the Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment and an associate professor of environmental studies at Mount Holyoke College. Her teaching is interdisciplinary by nature, often examining both the science and human dimensions of environmental issues. Her classes are often experiential and community-based, including her most recent course, Food Equity and Empowerment. Similarly, using her background in horticulture, natural resources, and education, her research crosses many fields and areas of study, often falling at the intersection of community, race, and transformative learning in environmental education. Specifically, she examines how and why environmental and science learning communities are exclusive and how they can be more inclusive of groups often marginalized.

With published articles in Environmental Education Research and The Journal of Environmental Education, Aguilar has also written for Truthout, where she recently penned the op-ed, “Are We Prepared for a Climate Crisis in the Middle of a Pandemic?” She has book chapters in Across the Spectrum: Resources for Environmental Educators and in Urban Environmental Education Review. In September 2020, she spoke about food justice and community gardening on a panel hosted by the Women of Color Leadership Network at UMass Amherst. Her current research involves collecting oral histories from people in the Latinx community to re-frame the normative discourse on what it means to be “outdoors” for an upcoming book.



2020 Daffodil Lecture



The climate crisis underway is unique in human history. It is a true existential crisis. Those alive today will decide the fate of humanity. At the same time, there is a solution at hand, which is a Global Green New Deal. Professor Pollin will discuss putting meat on the bones of the Global Green New Deal, which starts with a single simple idea: we have to absolutely stop burning fossil fuels to produce energy within the next 30 years at most, and we have to do this in a way that also supports rising living standards and expanding opportunities for working people and the poor throughout the world. This version of a Green New Deal program is, in fact, entirely realistic in terms of its purely economic and technical features. The real question is whether it is politically feasible.

Robert Pollin is a Distinguished University Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is also the founder and President of PEAR (Pollin Energy and Retrofits), an Amherst, MA-based green energy company operating throughout the United States. His books include The Living Wage: Building a Fair Economy (co-authored 1998); Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity (2003); An Employment-Targeted Economic Program for South Africa (co-authored 2007); A Measure of Fairness: The Economics of Living Wages and Minimum Wages in the United States (co-authored 2008), Back to Full Employment (2012), Green Growth (2014), Global Green Growth (2015) and Greening the Global Economy (2015). He has worked as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, the International Labour Organization, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and numerous non-governmental organizations in several countries and in U.S. states and municipalities on various aspects of building high-employment green economies.  He has also directed projects on employment creation and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa for the United Nations Development Program. He has worked with many U.S. non-governmental organizations on creating living wage statutes at both the statewide and municipal levels, on financial regulatory policies, and on the economics of single-payer health care in the United States. In 2018, he co-authored Economic Analysis of Medicare for All.  Between 2011– 2016, he was a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the European Commission project on Financialization, Economy, Society, and Sustainable Development (FESSUD).  He was selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers for 2013.”