Peter M. Wege and his sustainability legacy at U-M

The Center for Sustainable Systems at the School of Natural Resources and Environment annually invites an internationally recognized leader to deliver the Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability. Established in 2001, the lecture series is named to honor Peter M. Wege, the retired vice-chairman of the board of Steelcase, Inc., in Grand Rapids, Mich. As founding chair of the Center's External Advisory Board, his vision of sustainability and spirit of generosity guided the Center through its transition from the National Pollution Prevention Center for Higher Education, which was established at SEAS in October 1991. The Wege Lecture, one of U-M's most visible annual events, is open to the public and the academic community.

It addresses important sustainability challenges facing society such as energy security, global climate change, ecosystem degradation and sustainable development strategies - with a focus on improving the systems for meeting human needs in developed and developing countries.

17th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 14, 2019
Keynote speaker: Christiana Figueres, born in San José, Costa Rica. Anthropologist and diplomat. She has been an international leader on climate change since the 1990s. Between 2010 and 2016 she led the international climate change negotiations of the United Nations, helping the governments of the world to build a process of consensus, inclusion and equity to achieve the historic Paris Agreement. Today she leads Mission 2020, accelerating the implementation of the Agreement to strengthen national economies and protect the most vulnerable from the harmful effects of climate change.
Lecture topic: Beyond Fossil Fuels: Challenges and Opportunities of a New Economic Reality

16th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: October 5, 2017
Keynote speaker: Bill McKibben, has written extensively about climate change throughout his career and is the founder of, the first planet-wide grassroots climate change movement. More information about Mr. McKibben's career accomplishments can be found here: full bio.
Lecture topic: Down to the Wire: A Hot Fight in a Hot World.
Video of lecture

15th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: September 29, 2016
Keynote speaker: Bill Clark, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy and Human Development at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Trained as an ecologist, his research focuses on sustainability science: understanding the interactions of human and environmental systems with a view toward advancing the goals of sustainable development. He is particularly interested in how institutional arrangements affect the linkage between knowledge and action in the sustainability arena.
Lecture topic: Pursuing Sustainability: Linking Science and Practice

14th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 28, 2016
Keynote speaker: José María Figueres, As President of Costa Rica (1994-1998), Figueres created a comprehensive national development strategy based on sound economics, investment in human development, and a strong alliance with nature. He was CEO of the World Economic Forum, Chairman of the Carbon War Room and launched the Global Ocean Commission.
Lecture topic: Beyond Fossil Fuels: Challenges and Opportunities of a New Economic Reality
Video of lecture

12th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 11, 2013
Keynote speaker:
Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme
View streamed video of lecture

11th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 26, 2012
Keynote speaker: Marie Lynn Miranda, dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan; professor, Natural Resources (SEAS) and Department of Pediatrics & Communicable Diseases, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
View streamed video file of lecture

10th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 16, 2011
Keynote speaker: Dr. Larry Brilliant, president and chief executive officer of the Skoll Global Threats Fund
View streamed video file of lecture

Ninth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 22, 2010
Keynote speaker: John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
Download/view Powerpoint presentation
View streamed video file of lecture

Eighth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: April 20, 2008
Keynote speaker: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Lecture topic: "Earth Day Reflections"
Video/lecture: View video of the lecture.

Seventh Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: November 13, 2007
Keynote speaker: William Clay Ford, Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the Board of Directors, Ford Motor Company
Lecture topic: "The Road to Sustainable Transportation"
Video/lecture: View video of the lecture

Sixth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: November 14, 2006
Keynote speaker: Lord Browne of Madingley, group chief executive of British Petroleum
Lecture topic: "Sustainability: A Practical Agenda"
Video/lecture: Lord Brown's speech (mp4) (mp3)

Fifth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture, October 24, 2005
Keynote speaker: Al Gore, 45th Vice President of the United States
Lecture topic: Special lecture on global climate change
Video/lecture: View University Record post-lecture coverage

Fourth Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: October 29, 2004
Keynote speaker: Gro Harlem Brundtland, thrice-former Prime Minister of Norway; recent Director-General of World Health Organization; Chair of UN World Commission on Environment and Development
Lecture topic: "Sustainable Development - A Global Perspective on Ecology, Economy & Equity"
Video/lecture: View text of Brundtland's speech

Third Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: March 31, 2004
Keynote speaker: Peter Newman, former Professor of City Policy and Director of Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia; now Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University
Lecture topic: "Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems"
Video/lecture: View text of Newman's speech

Second Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: November 6, 2002
Keynote speaker: Joseph L. Sax, Professor of Environmental Regulation, Emeritus, U-C Berkeley, School of Law
Lecture topic: "Reflections on the Great Lakes"
Lecture notes: View text of Sax's speech

First Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture: October 17, 2001
Keynote speaker: Rosina M. Bierbaum, Dean, School of Natural Resources and Environment
Lecture topic: "Environmental Challenges for the 21st Century - A Matter of Degrees." Panel response: Carl P. Simon, director of the Center for Study of Complex Systems; Stephen W. Director, dean of the College of Engineering; and Douglas S. Kelbaugh, Dean of the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning
Lecture presentation: View slides of the presentation
Lecture notes: View transcript of Bierbaum's speech