finding vocation and personal sustainability in a complex social change ecosystem

Mitchell Center hosts ‘How can we be honest brokers in an honestly broken system?’ talk Sept. 19

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    ORONO — The Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine will host the talk “How can we be honest brokers in an honestly broken system?” Monday, Sept. 19., at 3 p.m., The speaker will be Sonja Birthisel, director of UMaine’s Wilson Center.

    Birthisel will share stories and observations about the challenge of finding vocation and personal sustainability in a complex social change ecosystem. She has spent much of the last decade seeking to address the pressing reality of climate change.

    As a scientist, she has done her best to wear the hat of “honest broker” through projects like Forest Climate Change Initiative’s Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) Initiative. In 2019, she decided to step beyond roles that felt reputationally “safe” as a scientist and become increasingly involved in advocacy and activism, including civil disobedience.

    Birthisel is an agroecologist, educator, faith leader, activist and member of the Orono Town Council. She is passionate about pursuing environmental and social justice through systems change, and seeks to engage this work on multiple levels, wearing a colorful array of hats. She graduated from UMaine in fall 2018 with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences and a focus in sustainable agriculture.

    All talks in the Mitchell Center’s Sustainability Talks series are free and will be offered both remotely via Zoom and in person at 107 Norman Smith Hall on the UMaine campus in Orono. Registration is required to attend remotely via Zoom. Visit the event webpage to register and receive connection information. 

    Please note that face coverings are required for all persons attending Mitchell Center Sustainability Talks. For the latest UMaine health and safety guidance, please see

    Updates for this event will be posted to the event webpage. To request a reasonable accommodation, contact Ruth Hallsworth, 207.581.3196;



    About the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions: The Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine aspires to be a leader and valued partner in understanding and solving problems related to the growing challenge of improving human well-being while protecting the environment. We collaborate with diverse stakeholders and bring together faculty and students from many different fields. By connecting knowledge with action, we seek to create a brighter environmental, social and economic future in and beyond Maine.

    About the University of Maine: The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state's land grant, sea grant and space grant university, with a regional campus at the University of Maine at Machias. UMaine is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. UMaine Machias is located in the homeland of the Passamaquoddy Nation. As Maine's flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is the state's public research university and a Carnegie R1 top-tier research institution. It attracts students from all 50 states and 81 countries. UMaine currently enrolls 11,989 undergraduate and graduate students, and UMaine Machias enrolls 747 undergraduates. Our students have opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research with world-class scholars. UMaine offers more than 100 degree programs through which students can earn master's, doctoral or professional science master's degrees, as well as graduate certificates. UMaine Machias offers 18 degree programs. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide to conserve energy, recycle and adhere to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine and UMaine Machias, visit and

    Event Date: 

    Mon, 09/19/2022 - 3:00pm

    Event Location: 

    107 Norman Smith Hall and Zoom


    University of Maine
    107 Norman Smith Hall
    Orono, ME 04469
    United States