Plenary Sessions

PL 1: ESA Opening Plenary Session
Sunday, August 9, 5—6:30pm, Hilton Baltimore, Key Ballroom
Presider: David Inouye, ESA President
crossroadsThe Ecological Society of America is happy to present The Crossroads Project as our Opening Plenary Session.At the dawn of the 21st century, humanity has arrived at an extraordinary Crossroads—a time and place where scientific ability to identify unprecedented risk intersects a societal inability to respond. Little of humanity’s course, as currently imagined, is sustainable—not our energy, not our economy, not our environment. But there is more to the scientific message: we are possessed of the knowledge we need to chart a new course, and a tide is rising.The Crossroads Project is a response to this reality—grounded in science, elevated by art, in service of genuine understanding, and determined to unlock a growing desire for meaningful response.At the core of Crossroads is performance art, blending powerful music, evocative imagery, and compelling science. Using diverse and complementary languages, The Fry Street Quartet joins with physicist and educator Dr. Robert Davies to explore the impacts of society’s unsustainable systems, Earth’s rapidly changing climate, and humanity’s opportunity for a new direction. Merging intellectual with visceral, the performance weaves together a chorus of artistic and scientific voices responding to one of society’s greatest challenges. The Crossroads Project offers a deep meditation on the choices before us, the paths they forge, and the dramatically different landscapes to which they lead.The Crossroads Project is an ongoing experiment — a partnership between the two great endeavors of science and art.  It’s a partnership with a purpose — bringing to bear the power of performance art one of the great conversations of our time — human civilization’s growing unsustainability and the quest for truly meaningful response.Crossroads  combines compelling information and evocative imagery to force a theme — firmly grounded in science — and then unleashes powerful music in an effort to inspire deep and personal contemplation of this theme.  Crossroads seeks to take an audience from intellectual understanding, to visceral experience, to personal resolve.Ultimately we intend Crossroads to comprise a collection of performances exploring different aspects of humanity’s great transition to a societal and ecological maturity.The science of Crossroads is the science of our existence on planet Earth.It is the science of water… and soil… and climate… and life.
And of food, and energy, and economy.
The chemistry of the oceans
And the physics of complex systems.From water to life, ecosystems to agriculture, civilization to economy, energy to consumption, the science of Crossroads is a distillation of the very best state of our knowledge, arising from one of humanity’s great endeavors — the enterprise of science.

PL 2: Opening Plenary of The Centennial Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
Monday, August 10, 2015 8:00 – 11:30 am
Hilton Baltimore, Key Ballroom
plenAUGEcology’s Relevance to Earth’s Future
Jim Collins, ESA Plenary Session Chair
Carol Brewer, Program Chair, ESA Centennial Meeting 2015The 100th meeting of the ESA is a milestone moment in the history of this scientific organization. It is a moment to take stock of the future of ecology, its relevance to the future of the biosphere, and the role of humans as planetary stewards.  The goal of the opening plenary is to start the meeting by engaging the ecological community in a conversation where we ask ourselves what would a successful environmental agenda look like for the next 5, 10, 50, or 100 years? Along with discussing what a successful environmental agenda might be, panelists and plenary attendees also will consider who needs to be part of the funding picture in the future, what our environmental past—recent and deep time—can tell us about our future, and who needs to be in the “ecology” conversation.Speakers:James Collins, Virginia M. Ullman Professor of Natural History and the Environment, Arizona State University. Topic: Ecology in a Changing World.David Tilman, Regents’ Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota.
Topic – Solving Global Environmental Problems: Art or Science?Thomas Lovejoy, University Professor, Environmental Science and Technology, George Mason.  Topic – Relevance of Environmental Science to a Skeptical Public.Doug Erwin, Curator of Paleozoic Invertebrates, Smithsonian Institution.
Topic: What Recent and Deep Time Tell Us About Our Future?Rush Holt, former US Representative, NJ, and CEO American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Topic: Will it be Research as Usual for Ecologists in the Coming 100 years?

Margaret Palmer, Professor of Entomology, University of Maryland, and Director, National Socio-environmental Synthesis Center.
Topic: Synthesis – Ecology’s Relevance to Earth’s Future.