Director of diversity, equity & inclusion at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment to talk about the social inequalities of conservation

Grand Rapids, Michigan – February 28, 2017 – The Wege Foundation will host the 21st Wege Speaker Series on Thursday, April 13 at 4pm at the Aquinas College Performing Arts Center.

This year’s speaker is Dorceta E. Taylor, Ph.D., director of diversity, equity & inclusion at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment, where she helped launch the first Environmental Justice Program in the country. She also holds dual doctorates in Sociology and Forestry & Environmental Studies from Yale University. Her talk is titled, Untold Stories of the Conservation Movement: Race, Power & Privilege.

Dr. Taylor offers extensive knowledge of environmental history, politics and justice as it relates to social equity. As a distinguished author, she has published influential books about the racial and socioeconomic ties to conservationism. The importance of sharing these stories has influenced her approach to teaching.

“The conservation movement arose against a backdrop of racism, sexism, class conflicts, and nativism that shaped the nation in profound ways,” said Dr. Taylor. “I think a thorough understanding of the past informs present thinking and actions.”

In Dr. Taylor’s latest book, The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection, she tells the often forgotten stories about the movement with a clear focus on injustice. Dr. Taylor offers a fresh look at the conservation movement and its impact on vulnerable members of our society.

“The lack of diversity in the environmental movement is a major issue,” said Mark Van Putten, President and CEO of the Wege Foundation. Van Putten also serves as a Board Chair of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, which has partnered with Dr. Taylor on projects to assess and improve the diversity of the movement’s leadership and staff. “Dr. Taylor provides a unique perspective as both a scholar and an activist that will advance the conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion in West Michigan,” said Van Putten.

Partners for the 21st Wege Speaker Series event include:

  • Aquinas College
  • Grand Rapids Urban League
  • Latina Network of West Michigan
  • NAACP Greater Grand Rapids Branch
  • Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
  • West Michigan Environmental Action Council
  • West Michigan Latino Community Coalition

The Aquinas College Performing Arts Center is located at 1703 Robinson Road S.E. in Grand Rapids. The public is invited and the event is free. Limited seating, please register soon at