Background Image

News & Events


Albert Schweitzer's 'reverence For Life' Philosophy And Its Relevance For Environmental Policy Making Subject Of Upcoming Lecture At Clarkson

Peter Brown, professor and former director of McGill University’s School of the Environment, will present a lecture, “Reverence for Life: A Philosophy for Civilization,” at Clarkson University on Monday, April 5.  The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in Science Center Lecture Hall 162 on Clarkson’s hill campus.  It isPeter Brown open to the public.

The phrase “reverence for life” is taken from the work of Albert Schweitzer. Schweitzer is well known for his work as a doctor and missionary in Africa, work for which he was honored in 1952 with a Nobel Peace Prize.  But Schweitzer was also a theologian and philosopher who developed a perspective he called “Reverence for Life,” which he used to describe a universal concept of ethics that could reconcile the drives of altruism and egoism by requiring a respect for the lives of all other beings, and by demanding the highest development of our individual skills and aspirations.

Brown will use Schweitzer’s work to outline a philosophy for civilization that includes ethical foundations, relationships between humans and nature, and limitations on the human population and its consumption of natural resources.  Brown’s talk will specifically address the natural resource policy and macro-economic implications of Schweitzer’s ethic. As the human species confronts a growing number of problems from extensive harm to the biosphere, radical poverty, and aging population, financial instability and unemployment, Brown brings a fresh view of how we got here and the alternatives before us.

Brown holds concurrent appointments at McGill University in the School of Environment, the Department of Geography, and the Department of Natural Resource Sciences. Before coming to McGill, he was professor of public policy at the University of Maryland’s Graduate School of Public Affairs.  While at the University of Maryland, he founded the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy as well as the School of Public Affairs.

Brown’s teaching, research, and service are concerned with ethics, governance, and the protection of the environment. He is the author of Restoring the Public Trust: A Fresh Vision for Progressive Government in America (Beacon, 1994) and The Commonwealth of Life: A Treatise on Stewardship Economics (Black Rose, 2001).

Brown is also involved in tree farming and conservation efforts in Maryland, Maine, and Quebec. He is a certified forest producer in Quebec. His farm in Maryland is enrolled in the Forest Stewardship and the Maryland Agricultural Preservation programs.  In 1995, he was named “Tree Farmer of the Year” in Garrett County, Md.  He has also served as the steward of Walker Pond in Hancock County, Maine.

For more information about the lecture or directions to campus, contact the Clarkson Center for the Environment at 315-268-3856 or

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

Calendar View the full calendar >>

Full Calendar RSS Feed