A New Climate Movement:
Acting on Solutions that Work

6:30 p.m. | August 30, September 6, September 13, 2022

McAlister Auditorium

Presented by the Riley Institute and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in collaboration with the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities

All of us feel the impact of climate change, either through more days of summer heat, increasingly devastating hurricanes and floods, numerous wildfires caused by drought, or rising sea levels that threaten our coastal communities. Unjustly, many of the people and places most impacted will be those who are already most vulnerable. The time for ambitious climate action is now.

Over the course of three weekly sessions, attendees heard what is being done by public and private sector leaders to change the trajectory of climate change before its most devastating impacts are realized. Those in the audience learned what the roadmap for meaningful action looks like. Yes, it’s daunting.

Yet, the possibilities for creating a more beautiful, healthy, and just world through climate action are endless. Envision the ways in which actionable, evidence-based strategies can benefit the things you care about the most as we hear from leaders in government, industry, and non-profit work about scaling climate solutions for a thriving world.

August 30 | Back from the Brink: A Framework for Climate Action

Addressing the challenge of our changing climate is daunting, but there are reasons for hope. A strategic framework exists. There are clear steps that public leaders and private sector leaders can and should take — steps that will reduce future droughts, wildfires, floods, and extreme heat.


  • Al Gore (spoke virtually), 45th vice president of the United States, author of An Inconvenient Truth, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change”
  • Angel Hsu, PhD, assistant professor of public policy and the environment, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a lead and contributing author to global climate science assessments
  • Bob Inglis (introduced VP Gore), executive director, Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University, and former member, U.S. Congress
  • John Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and a founding member, Drawdown Georgia
  • Stinson Woodward Ferguson, attorney focusing on environmental law; former S.C. energy staff attorney and associate attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center; member, City of Greenville’s Green Ribbon Advisory Committee

Read Speaker Bios

View Program

6:00 p.m. | Bonus Experience: Student Art Show

Attendees appreciated thought-provoking climate-related paintings and met the Furman students who made them.

September 6 | The Next Industrial Revolution: Turning Crisis Into Opportunity

Why are more and more companies embracing climate action? The future is electric, carbon-neutral, and sustainable. The audience heard from the head of Proterra Transit and others about innovation and opportunities presented by the next industrial — and green — revolution.


  • Phyllis Cuttino, Furman ’88, president and CEO, The Climate Reality Project
  • Ethel Bunch, president and CEO, Sustain SC
  • Tom Davis, Furman ’82, state senator, District 46 (Beaufort & Jasper Counties)
  • Kasel Knight, chief legal counsel and head of sustainability, Milliken & Company
  • Julian Soell, president, Proterra Transit
  • Katie Thomas, lead, Kearney Consumer Institute

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6:00 p.m. | Bonus Experience: Sample Sustainable Foods
and Check Out an Electric Bus

Participants sampled food grown at Furman Farm and stepped inside a Proterra electric bus, manufactured right here in Greenville.

September 13 | Connecting Values and Career to Climate Action

From hikers and beach dwellers to entrepreneurs and social justice champions, we all have a reason to care about climate change. How can we connect our values and our daily work to the new climate movement?


  • Katharine Hayhoe, PhD, (spoke virtually) professor, Texas Tech University, climate scientist, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, and climate ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance
  • Geoffrey Habron, PhD, Furman professor of sustainability science; member of multi-institutional effort to develop climate resilience solutions in frontline, at-risk communities across the Carolinas
  • Dale Threatt-Taylor, executive director, The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina
  • Emily Wirzba, Furman ’13, senior manager of federal affairs, Environmental Defense Fund

Read Speaker Bios

7:45 p.m. | Bonus Experience: Dessert Reception and
Furman Climate Engagement Expo

While enjoying light sweets, attendees heard how students and groups across Furman’s campus are taking up the issue of climate change.

Matthew Cohen, PhD, Furman associate professor of sustainability science served as moderator for the series.


About our speakers

August 30: Back from the Brink: A Framework for Climate Action

Al Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore is a founding partner and chairman of Generation Investment Management, and the founder and chairman of The Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis. He is also a senior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a member of Apple Inc.’s board of directors.

Gore was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976, 1978, 1980, and 1982 and to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and 1990. He was inaugurated as the 45th vice president of the United States on January 20, 1993, and served eight years.

He is the author of the #1 New York Times best-sellers “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Assault on Reason,” and the best-sellers “Earth in the Balance,” “Our Choice: A Plan To Solve the Climate Crisis,” “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change,” and most recently, The New York Times best-seller “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”

He is the subject of the documentary movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won two Oscars in 2006 — and a second documentary in 2017, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.” In 2007, Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”


Angel Hsu

Angel Hsu is an assistant professor of public policy and the environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and founder/director of the Data-Driven EnviroPolicy Lab, an interdisciplinary research group that innovates and applies quantitative approaches to pressing environmental issues. Her research explores the intersection of science and policy and the use of data-driven approaches to understand environmental sustainability, particularly in the areas of climate change and energy, urbanization and air quality.

Focusing on China and the Global South, Dr. Hsu has provided expert testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission and is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and a Public Intellectual Program Fellow. She is a lead and contributing author to global climate science assessments, including this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report and the United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report.

In addition to publishing in academic journals, Dr. Hsu has been committed to public outreach and was a TED Climate Countdown and TED 2018 Age of Amazement Speaker and recognized as an inaugural Grist 50 leader. She previously held a joint appointment as assistant professor of environmental studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies as an adjunct. She holds a PhD in environmental policy from Yale University, an MPhil in environmental policy from the University of Cambridge, and a BS in biology and BA in political science from Wake Forest University.


Bob Inglis

Bob Inglis launched the Energy and Enterprise Initiative (E&EI) at George Mason University in July 2012 and serves as Executive Director, where he promotes free enterprise action on climate change.

For his work on climate change Inglis was given the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. He appears in the film Merchants of Doubt and in the Showtime series YEARS of Living Dangerously, and he’s spoken at TEDxBeacon Street and at TEDxJacksonville.

Inglis was a Resident Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics in 2011, a Visiting Energy Fellow at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2012, and a Resident Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics in 2014. Inglis was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1992, having never run for office before. He represented Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina, from 1993-1998. In 2004, he was reelected to Congress and served until losing reelection in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2010.

Inglis grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. He earned his BA from Duke University and his Juris Doctor from University of Virginia School of Law. He practiced commercial real estate law in Greenville, SC, before and between his years in Congress.


John Lanier

John Lanier is the executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, a Georgia-based private family foundation honoring the legacy of the late Ray C. Anderson, Lanier’s grandfather. Ray Anderson was a globally recognized industrialist and pioneer for environmentalism, and Lanier continues his legacy today through Foundation programs that seek to create a brighter, more sustainable world.

Through his work with the Foundation, Lanier is a founding member of Drawdown Georgia, a movement designed to scale the most effective climate solutions for the state of Georgia. He previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for Project Drawdown and the Southface Institute. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law and he holds a BA in history and economics from the University of Virginia.


Stinson Woodward Ferguson

Stinson Woodward Ferguson is of counsel to The Anthony Law Firm, P.A. in Spartanburg and an assistant municipal judge for the City of Greenville. She specializes in environmental law, previously serving as the South Carolina Energy Staff Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston and as special counsel for Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A.

She is a certified sustainability consultant and a certified sustainability (ESG) practitioner through the Center for Sustainability and Excellence, a leading boutique firm specialized in global sustainability consulting, coaching, and training. Woodward Ferguson is also a 2022 fellow of the Sustainability Leadership Initiative, hosted by the Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities in partnership with Sustain South Carolina, and 2014 graduate of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leader Initiative.
Woodward Ferguson earned her law degree from the University of Georgia and her Master of Laws, Environmental Law from Vermont Law School. She holds a BA in French from Converse University.


September 6: The Next Industrial Revolution: Turning Crisis Into Opportunity


Phyllis Cuttino

Phyllis Cuttino, a 1988 graduate of Furman University with a degree in political science and history, is CEO and president of The Climate Reality Project. From 2018-2021, Cuttino was the executive director of the Climate Action Campaign, a coalition of 14 of the country’s leading climate and health organizations representing more than 12 million Americans, which is dedicated to making progress on federal climate, clean air and clean energy policy. As the managing director of Climate Nexus’ Issues Management team from 2016-2018, she piloted a unit dedicated to identifying emerging policy and narrative threats and opportunities and conceiving and operationalizing responses for the broader environmental movement. During her nine years at The Pew Charitable Trusts, Cuttino led all sustainability efforts including the Clean Energy and Flood Prepared Communities programs, the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, the Clean Energy Business Network and the Pew Campaign for Fuel Efficiency.

She has a background in policy, strategic communications and campaigns. In the policy arena, Cuttino worked on the senior staffs of two United States Senators. In philanthropy, she served as vice president of public affairs for Ted Turner’s $1 billion gift to U.N. causes. As a senior vice president at a consulting firm in Washington, she helped Fortune 500 companies and nongovernmental organizations influence public policy and increase awareness of critical issues. Cuttino has directed issue advocacy campaigns and served in various roles for political campaigns.


Ethel Bunch

Ethel Bunch is the CEO and president of Sustain SC, a nationally recognized organization that brings together South Carolina stakeholders at the intersection of commerce and conservation. She was president and CEO of Palmetto Green until it rebranded itself as Sustain SC in response to the need for South Carolina companies to critically consider carbon neutrality, water quality and quantity, renewable energy, and the circular economy.

She has a BA and MMC from the University of South Carolina.


Tom Davis

A state senator since 2008, Tom Davis chairs the South Carolina Senate’s Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee and serves on five other Senate committees: Finance, Banking and Insurance, Medical Affairs, Legislative Oversight and Fish, Game and Forestry. A longtime advocate for protecting South Carolina’s natural resources and increasing the use of renewable energy, Sen. Davis introduced and shepherded the Energy Freedom Act, which is opening up the grid to new technology. He also introduced legislation to expand solar access for customers statewide. A graduate of Furman University and the University of Maryland School of Law, he has received numerous awards including Sierra Club South Carolina’s Legislator of the Year Award and the Green Tie Award from Conservation Voters of South Carolina.


Kasel Knight

Kasel Knight is senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Milliken & Company. In addition to her responsibility for all legal aspects of Milliken’s global, diversified manufacturing business, she manages the company’s sustainability, government relations and trade compliance functions. Prior to joining Milliken in 2010, Kasel practiced mergers and acquisitions and corporate and securities law for eight years in law firms in Atlanta, GA and Boston, MA.

She holds a BA in English and French from Duke University and a JD from Duke University School of Law.


Julian Soell

Julian Soell serves as President of Proterra Transit. Julian brings nearly 30 years of automotive and operational experience to Proterra and joins the company after most recently serving as Chief Operating Officer at Repairify, a high-growth global leader in automotive service, technology and business insights solutions. Previously, he held engineering leadership roles at automotive companies including Mercedes Benz USA and Harley-Davidson Motor Company. Outside of the automotive industry, Julian has also held large operational and customer service roles at Delta Air Lines. Julian holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Ohio State University, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan.


Katie Thomas

Katie Thomas, lead of the Kearney Consumer Institute (KCI), has nearly 15 years of experience operating as an advocate for and expert on all things consumer. Her career began in management consulting at Kearney, working on projects across consumer goods, retail, and media. Katie later shifted into brand management for beloved brands from Heinz to Aidells. Returning to Kearney to lead the KCI, Thomas partners with leading Fortune 500 clients and reframes challenges from a consumer-centric perspective. She is co-host of the consumer podcast Inside the Mind.

She holds a master’s in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a BA in business administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.


September 13: Connecting Values and Career to Climate Action

Katharine Hayhoe

Katharine Hayhoe is a climate scientist and chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy. She is also the Political Science Endowed Professor in Public Policy and Public Law and Paul W. Horn Distinguished Professor at Texas Tech University. She has been named a United Nations Champion of the Earth and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and she serves as the climate ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance. Katharine was a lead author for the U.S. Second, Third, and Fourth National Climate Assessments, hosts the PBS digital series Global Weirding, and has written for The New York Times. She frequently gives talks on climate science, impacts, communication and faith. Her TED Talk “The Most Important Thing You Can Do to Fight Climate Change: Talk About It” has been viewed over 5 million times. The author of the bestselling book, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World, Katharine has a BSc in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and an MS and a PhD in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Full bio


Geoffrey Habron

Geoffrey Habron is a professor of sustainability science in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Furman University. Currently, he is part of a multi-institutional effort to develop climate resilience solutions in frontline, at-risk communities across the Carolinas. The initiative is led by North Carolina State University and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Before coming to Furman in 2017, he spent three years at Warren Wilson College as director of Electronic Portfolios, director of First Year Seminar, and faculty member in the Department of Environmental Studies. From 1999-2014, he was associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and the Department of Sociology at Michigan State University. Dr. Habron has a PhD in fisheries science from Oregon State University, an MS in wildlife and fisheries from Mississippi State University, and a BA in biology from University of Miami.


Dale Threatt-Taylor

Dale Threatt-Taylor is the executive director of The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina. Known by her former colleagues as North Carolina’s “conservation evangelist,” she has more than 25 years of conservation leadership and deep academic expertise in agriculture science. She has served as director of the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District and as a social conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. She holds a MEM from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and a BS in conservation with a concentration on soil science from North Carolina State University. She also completed N.C. State’s Agricultural Leadership Development Program.


Emily Wirzba

Emily Wirzba is a senior manager of Federal Affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), where she builds relationships with members of Congress and develops legislative strategies to advance EDF’s transportation electrification and climate change priorities.

Prior to EDF, Emily was the legislative manager for Sustainable Energy & Environment at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), the Quaker lobby. While at FCNL, Emily served as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community’s Energy and Ecology Working Group.

Emily is on the Advisory Council for Our Climate, which empowers young people to advocate for the science-based, equitable and intersectional climate justice policies that build a thriving world. She was a 2016 Fellow with the New Leaders Council, which works to recruit, train and promote the next generation of progressive leaders. She was a Spring 2015 Fellow with the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, a leadership development organization that equips fellows with a strong working knowledge of energy markets and policy.

Emily holds a BA in philosophy and political science and a minor in poverty studies from Furman University.


About our series moderator

Matthew Cohen

Matthew Cohen is an Associate Professor of Sustainability Science in Furman University’s Department of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences. With a background in urban planning and climate solutions, his interests include local climate action and sustainability education. At Furman, Dr. Cohen teaches urban sustainability and sustainability visioning while engaging undergraduate research students on local climate action and community engagement. Dr. Cohen holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University, a Professional Science Masters in Climate Science and Solutions from Northern Arizona University, a Masters of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, and a B.A. in International Studies from Centre College.