April 14: McWilliams to Discuss "Animals, Plants and Food: Eating Sustainably"

Event Details


Date: April 13, 2012

Times: 7 p.m.

Location: Gilbert Science Center, Room 100

Ticket Info: Free and open to the public.

Dr. James McWilliams, associate professor of history at Texas State University and author of the award-winning book "Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly," will speak on “Animals, Plants and Food: Eating Sustainably in the Twenty-First Century (and Beyond)” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, in the Gilbert Science Center Auditorium, room 100. The event is free and open to the public. An open reception will follow in the Science Center's Pendulum Lounge.

McWilliams' lecture serves as the spring 2012 Iverson Lecture for Augustana’s Civitas honors program and is the first event in the inaugural Augustana Academic Festival.

McWilliams’ talk will explore the idea that the primary problem with “sustainable agriculture” and “the food movement” is our failure to come to terms with the economic, environmental and ethical dimensions of animal production and consumption. The only way food can be sustainable in a world of more than 7 billion people, he argues, is to do something as radical as it is common-sensical: Grow plants for people.

McWilliams earned his doctorate in history from Johns Hopkins University in 2001. He is an online columnist on food issues for The Atlantic Monthly, and has written for publications including The Texas Observer, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. He is also the 2009 recipient of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

“One of the things sorely lacking in our public discourse is the ability to weigh the pros and cons of an issue,” McWilliams says. “Instead, arguments about anything take on a kind of religious fervor."

“So when I see conventional wisdom forming around an idea, I like to poke holes in it. I think any idea with legitimacy is going to withstand having holes poked in it and will actually be stronger as a result.”

McWilliams’ lecture is sponsored by Civitas, the Augustana Mellon Fund, ASA and UBG.