Al Gore, other experts to speak on climate action in Furman series

Katie Quine
Marketing and Communications Manager
The Riley Institute at Furman University




“A New Climate Movement: Acting on Solutions that Work” begins August 30.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — More than a dozen national and local voices, including former Vice President Al Gore, will discuss what is being done to turn the tide on climate change in ways that would benefit us all at “A New Climate Movement: Acting on Solutions that Work.” The three-part series begins August 30 at Furman University’s McAlister Auditorium. Speakers include:

  • Former Vice President Al Gore (speaking virtually)
  • Phyllis Cuttino, CEO and president of The Climate Reality Project
  • Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist and ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance (speaking virtually)
  • Angel Hsu, director of the Data-Driven EnviroPolicy Lab
  • Julian Soell, president, Proterra Transit

The 12th annual StraightTalk series, presented by Furman University’s Riley Institute and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in collaboration with the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, will take place on three consecutive Tuesdays: August 30, September 6, and September 13 at 6:30 p.m. Each year, the series features compelling conversations that broaden community and student perspectives on timely, complex issues facing the nation and South Carolina.

This year’s series points to the possibilities for creating a more beautiful, healthy, and just world from which everyone can benefit, said Jill Fuson, director of the Riley Institute’s Center for Critical Issues. “Whether you enjoy the outdoors, are passionate about growing the economy and jobs, seek to support marginalized communities, strive to live out your faith by being a steward of the land, or would like to ensure a vibrant world for your children, there’s something you can take away from this series,” Fuson said.

Each session will feature several speakers in discussion with one another and a special bonus experience for attendees. A closer look at each week:

  • August 30 | 6:30 p.m. | Back from the Brink: A Framework for Climate Action
    • Climate scientist Dr. Angel Hsu will lay out discreet steps to halt catastrophic climate change before former Vice President Al Gore (live via remote camera) offers reasons to hope about our climate future. In a panel moderated by Furman professor of sustainability science Dr. Matthew Cohen, Hsu will be joined in conversation by Stinson Woodward Ferguson, a member of Greenville’s Green Ribbon Advisory Committee, and John Lanier, founding member of Drawdown Georgia, on what states and cities can do to address climate change.
    • Bonus experience at 6 p.m.: Take in a climate-related art show and meet the Furman students behind the paintings on display.
  • September 6 | 6:30 p.m. | The Next Industrial Revolution: Turning Crisis into Opportunity
    • Phyllis Cuttino, CEO of The Climate Reality Project, shares how industry is responding to the need to slow the trajectory of climate change, setting the stage for a conversation with Proterra Transit president Julian Soell, Sustain SC CEO Ethel Bunch, S.C. Senator Tom Davis, and Milliken’s head of sustainability Kasel Knight about how South Carolina industries and innovators are working toward a cleaner, better future. Katie Thomas, lead for the Kearney Consumer Institute will present the consumer’s perspective on industry’s responsibility in mitigating climate change.
    • Bonus experience at 6 p.m.: Sample sustainable foods grown at Furman Farm and step inside a Proterra electric bus, manufactured in Greenville.
  • September 13 | 6:30 p.m. | Connecting Values and Career to Climate Action
    • Katharine Hayhoe, the top climate scientist for The Nature Conservancy and evangelical Christian, will share how our values connect to climate action and why it’s important for us to talk about our changing climate regularly. Three dedicated climate leaders, Furman professor of sustainability science Dr. Geoffrey Habron, The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina executive director Dale Threatt-Taylor, and the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior manager of federal affairs Emily Wirzba, will speak about their roles in the climate action movement.
    • Bonus experience at 7:45 p.m.: Enjoy a dessert reception and climate engagement expo where students and groups across Furman’s campus will share how they’re taking up the issue of climate change.

Tickets are available at $15 per session and $35 for the entire series. For a detailed schedule of events and to register, visit

For more information, contact Katie Quine at 864.294.3368 or


About the Riley Institute at Furman University

Furman University’s Richard W. Riley Institute advances social and economic progress in South Carolina and beyond by building leadership for a diverse society, broadening student and community perspectives on critical issues, hosting expert speakers, supporting public education, and creating knowledge through community solutions-focused research. It is committed to nonpartisanship in all it does and to a rhetoric-free, facts-based approach to change. Learn more at