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Writers speak to keep Florida's coasts "Unspoiled"

After the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April 2010, weeks turned into months as BP failed in multiple attempts to stop the flow of oil from the ruptured well-head beneath the Gulf. Beginning with the so-called “blowout preventer,” a procession of devices and techniques designed to contain the spill were each in turn revealed to be woefully inadequate. In mid-July, after more than 100 days, BP finally managed to cap  the well. However, in the time it took BP to regain control of the forces it unleashed, hundreds of millions of gallons flowed, causing catastrophic ecological and economic damage to our beloved Gulf of Mexico.

A group of Floridian writers hope to prevent future oil disasters by raising awareness through Unspoiled, a literary project aimed at preserving Florida's coasts. The publication was co-edited by Center Senior Scholar A. James Wohlpart (pictured), and was released in Summer 2010.  We share the following description from the book's website,

"We Floridians love our coasts. We love our fishing. We love to swim and surf and eat seafood and build sand castles. Florida’s beaches are pure white stretches of bliss that feed our souls, a natural gift as important as the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon.

Now, as we face the Gulf of Mexico's worst ever environmental disaster, the British Petroleum oil spill off Louisiana, we must ask: How could it possibly be worth it to risk the health of Florida’s number-one economic engine – its coasts – at the hands of the careless and unaccountable oil industry?

In this volume, 38 writers, scientists and students share their abiding love of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast and its sea life. Unspoiled reminds us that now is the time to shift from the oil dependent, industrial economy that is devastating our planet and driving climate change. It is time to transform our culture into a way of living in balance with the greater web of all beings, a culture based on truly sustainable lifestyles and clean, renewable energy sources."

Edited by:
Susan Cerulean, Janisse Ray,
and A. James Wohlpart
Illustrations by:
David Moynahan

"A lively assemblage of strong arguments for the environmental preservation of Florida’s wonderful wild coasts."
– Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award-winning American novelist

"A lyrical volume to remind Floridians that our coastline is not just our greatest natural asset. It's our greatest asset, period. Unspoiled also evokes another state treasure: our writers. Florida's literary luminescence shines from these pages."
– Cynthia Barnett, Senior Writer at Florida Trend magazine, and author of Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

"The potential benefits to Florida of offshore drilling are modest; the risks incalculable. Thirty-eight writers have drawn a line in the sand and joined a growing chorus of voices across the state in support of the best of what Florida represents, now and in the future."
– John Moran, nature photographer and author of Journal of Light: The Visual Diary of a Florida Nature Photographer

You can access more information on the book, including ordering details, at its website at

Center participates in Earth Charter +10 meetings at Peace Palace

The Center participated in a conference celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Earth Charter at the International Peace Palace in the city of The Hague, The Netherlands. With the theme of “Dialogue, Collaboration and Action for a Sustainable Future,” the June 29 event was ten years to the day since the launch of the Earth Charter in 2000. The document is a people’s statement of ethical principles for sustainability drafted through a global collaborative process. Its proponents include President Mikhail Gorbachev and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, both of whom are associated with the Center. Participants in The Netherlands meetings reflected on the international initiative’s first decade and charted a course for its future.

Over 200 invitees attended the event, including Earth Charter Commissioners, Affiliates, members of the Earth Charter International Council, youth leaders, and other partners. Long-time Earth Charter supporter Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands (pictured) hosted the celebration as she did at the Earth Charter's launch 10 years ago, and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende actively participated. The event was convened by former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. 850 interested people who were not able to travel to The Hague followed the discussions on-line. You can access pictures from the event here.

The event also featured several new books focusing on the Earth Charter. Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran shared his recent publication, Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development: Exploring Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis (2009) at an authors’ reception. Dutch officials from the national program, “Learning for Sustainable Development,” helped fund the publication and attended its European debut.

Corcoran said, “This international meeting provided an important opportunity to look at FGCU’s work in the global context. FGCU is an active Affiliate of the Earth Charter Initiative (ECI) and contributes through the Center’s Earth Charter Scholarship Project.” The Earth Charter Scholarship Project is housed at FGCU and is directed by Richard Clugston, who also attended the Netherlands meeting. The University signed a formal Affiliate Agreement with ECI in February 2009.

Center meets Haffenreffer Challenge

The Center has met its annual “Haffenreffer Challenge.”  Thanks to donations received from its many supporters on Sanibel Island, as well as generous gifts from the Thomas Berry Foundation and the American Teilhard Association, the Center was able to surpass the goal of $10,000 set by philanthropists Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer.

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran commented, “We were especially pleased with the increased number of gifts from Sanibel and Captiva Islands this year, as we recognize the difficult choices that givers must make in these times of great need in the local community.” He went on to say, “We were also thrilled to receive two major gifts from prestigious philosophical societies whose work inspires us at the Center. These gifts allowed us to more than double our fundraising goal.”

The Thomas Berry Foundation is a private foundation whose mission is “to carry out the Great Work of Thomas [Berry] in enhancing the flourishing of the Earth community.”  The Foundation seeks to achieve its goals through four major initiatives: enhancing American environmental theologian and cultural historian Thomas Berry’s legacy, creating a new field of study with implications for policy, promoting a moral force for environmental action, and fostering knowledge of the universe story.

The American Teilhard Association is guided by the writings of French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The Association seeks to bring “an encompassing perspective to the task of shaping the well-being of the entire earth community, at a time when so many crises threaten it.”  You can learn more about these organizations at the following websites: and

The Center thanks all those who made donations, as well as those who helped make the Sixth Annual Fundraising Celebration a success. The March 18, 2010 event took place at the Haffenreffer’s beachside home on Sanibel Island. Entitled, “Bloom Where You're Planted: Focus on the Local,” the event celebrated the role of the Center at FGCU and in the local community, its work with young people, and the wisdom of elders. The event featured organic food prepared with ingredients grown by local organic gardeners. The Center relies on support from the Southwest Florida community to continue its “work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action.”

A detailed measure of the Center’s progress is exhibited in the Center’s recently published five year report, Works Toward Realizing the Dream (pictured). To request a copy of the report, contact the FGCU Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at (239) 590-7166 or e-mail:

Center Director continues work with African Nobel laureate

Peter Blaze recently traveled to Africa to meet with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai (pictured right, and below). He was invited to help chart a course for the newly-created Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi. At a three-day strategic planning workshop beginning on May 20, 2010, Corcoran and other participants worked to draft a strategic plan with a vision, mission, and guiding principles for the organization. In the spirit of Maathai’s work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the young Institute aims to catalyze “social, economic, and cultural development” across Africa.

The Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies shares many of the same goals and objectives of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU. Corcoran’s insight into how to establish and maintain such an institution was particularly helpful in developing a strategic plan. “We have some perspective to share based on our six years of experience at the Center,” he said, but added, “We also have much to learn from the challenges and successes of environmental education in Africa.”

Corcoran and Maathai have collaborated in the past on other projects, including efforts to elevate the Earth Charter within the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development initiative. Maathai also contributed a Preface for Corcoran’s most recent book, Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development: Exploring Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis (2009). The Center has extended an invitation to Maathai to give a Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture and hopes she will agree to come to Sanibel Island for the event.

Corcoran began his journey at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where he was invited by Deputy Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela to attend a Southern Africa Development Corporation conference. While at the event, Corcoran consulted with the Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit at Rhodes, which focuses on teaching, research, and community engagement in South Africa. He also lectured at two botanical gardens in Johannesburg and Pretoria on the Earth Charter, an international declaration of ethical principles for sustainable development. In addition, Corcoran’s work in Africa includes advising the United Nations Environment Program’s “Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities” partnership.

“While we are privileged to make a modest contribution globally, we are also mindful of our work in the local community of Southwest Florida,” said Corcoran. This includes hosting public lectures on campus and within the community, uplifting FGCU’s mission of environmental sustainability in campus operations, and assisting faculty who wish to integrate the concept of sustainability into their teaching.

Welcome program assistant Kendra Carboneau!

The Center has been blessed with very able student assistants, but we've now reached a new level of maturity as an organization with the addition of a professional program assistant. With the generous help of College of Arts and Sciences Dean Donna Price Henry, the Center has expanded its capabilities with the hiring of Kendra Carboneau. We are fortunate to have such a skilled and enthusiastic colleague to add to our team!

Kendra was born in Massachusetts, the youngest child of Robert and Maureen McCarthy.  At the age of six, she moved to New Hampshire, where her love of nature began. Growing up, she spent hours playing in the woods and her summers were spent camping and hiking on Cannon Mountain and Indian Head in the White Mountains.
Her first job out of school was managing a Hallmark store where her responsibilities expanded to managing two corporately owned concept stores in Connecticut. Her high-profile stores were visited by top executives, including the Vice President of Marketing for the company. After leaving Hallmark, she went to work for Spectrascan Health Services, a medical imaging company which provides technicians and imaging equipment to physician’s offices nationwide.  As office manager and executive assistant to the CEO for five years, she directed administrative and project support efforts. Kendra served a simmilar role in her work with Intercha, an e-waste recycling company. While working with Intercha, Kendra had the opportunity to meet many people, and even had lunch with Neil Armstrong!
Since moving to Florida, she is happy to have found a home at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University. Her role as program assistant has provided her with an opportunity to work with an outstanding group of people who are dedicated to the environment.  Providing clerical and administrative support to Center staff, she serves as a liaison between the Center and other University departments and external stakeholders.
Kendra resides in Cape Coral, Florida with Jeff, her husband of twenty-one years, and their daughter Lindsey.  She enjoys hiking, bike riding, swimming, reading, and relaxing on the beach.

We welcome you to visit us as:  


Peter Blaze Corcoran (Director)
College of Arts & Sciences 
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Boulevard South
Fort Myers, Florida  33965-6565
Telephone: (239) 590-7166
Facsimile: (239) 590-7200

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