With an introduction by Executive Director Emeritus of SC Coastal Conservation League Dana Beach, Ceara Donnelley will present a reading, discussion, and Q&A from her late father’s newly published book Frog Pond Philosophy, a highly anticipated collection of essays by the Center for Humans and Nature’s founder and first president.
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Strachan Donnelley (1942–2008) was a philosopher, philanthropist, and conservationist who studied the relationship between humans and nature. Using the term “democratic ecological citizenship,” Donnelley argued that “our citizenship must be seen as embedded in nature, or dependent on nature.” He is the author or editor of several works, including The Brave New World of Animal Biotechnology and Wolves and Human Communities: Biology, Politics, and Ethics. In addition, his daughter, Ceara Donnelley, and Bruce Jennings have prepared for publication a book he was working on at the time of his death, Frog Pond Philosophy: Essays on the Relationship Between Humans and Nature, which has just been released.
Donnelley graduated from Yale University in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. He then went on to study philosophy at Oxford University before receiving his master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the New School for Social Research. For many years, he was affiliated with the Hastings Center, first as Director of Education and later as President.
Donnelley’s father, Gaylord, was chairman and president of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co., which is a large commercial printer founded in 1864 by Strachan’s great-grandfather. Donnelley chaired the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation from 1992–2003, which during his tenure granted more than $50 million. He also served on several other boards, including the University of Chicago, the New School University (New School for Social Research), the National Humanities Center, Yale University’s Institute for Biospheric Studies, and the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.
In 2003, Donnelley founded and became the first president of the Center for Humans and Nature. As a self-described “fly-fishing philosopher,” Donnelley founded the organization because he saw a clear need for a group dedicated to exploring the moral dimensions of human-nature relationships. Inspired by his early years of trout fishing and duck hunting, he spent his life working to understand the different ways humans relate to the world around them.
Giving himself to a lifelong career in philosophy and bioethics, Donnelley was convinced the world was in danger of being consumed by “reductionistic, silo thinking.” To solve the socio-ecological challenges in the face of rapid, unsustainable human development and expansion, he felt passionately that a holistic vision needed to be pulled from all corners of the thinking world—biology, ecology, economics, engineering, poetry, the arts, and philosophy, among others. This interdisciplinary approach continues to serve as the backbone of the Center for Humans and Nature, which works to bring deep and diverse thinkers together to think critically about human responsibilities to each other and the rest of the natural world.