College of Science, Technology, and Health

Rachel Carson Celebration

Event Date and Time: 
Thursday, December 6, 2012, 7:15 PM to 9:00 PM

Silent Spring: 50 Years Later

Public event to recognize legacy of Rachel Carson’s book in Portland on December 6th

Cornerstones of Science, a Maine-based non-profit organization, announced a year-end celebration in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a classic in science literature and often named most influential book of the 20th century.  The event, Silent Spring: 50 Years Later, will be held on December 6, 2012 at the Portland Public Library in downtown Portland, Maine, from 7:15–9 pm.

In honor of Carson’s significant legacy to the environmental movement and science journalism, the evening will open with a presentation by Bridget Besaw, a Portland-based author and photographer, Besaw, an “environmental documentarian” who chronicles the interrelationship between people and nature through her striking images, will share her a 15 minute slideshow and readings from Rachel Carson's work.

Following the opening, Jennifer Rooks, host of MPBN’s Maine Watch will facilitate a panel discussion to explore the impacts and implications of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring then and now. Maine scientists and scholars include:

  • Paul Anderson, Maine Sea Grant - current issues, including climate change and fisheries
  • Susan Shaw, Marine Environmental Research Institute - ocean pollution, health and policy issues
  • Elisabeth Stokes, Colby College - life and legacy of Rachel Carson from the literary perspective
  • John Wise, University of Southern Maine Wise Lab - current research in human and marine health and toxicology
  • Ben Twining, Bigelow Lab - fifty years of ocean science, challenges then and now

The panelists will discuss the legacy of Silent Spring from a multi-disciplinary approach, including scientific, historical and literary perspectives, such as:

1. Scientific: "What progress have we made?", "What challenges still remain?”, "What new environmental issues have arisen since then?” and "What can we do now to address these challenges?"

2. Historical: What was the legacy of Rachel Carson's work on the environmental movement and ocean literacy? What was her influence on scientists, writers and policy makers?

3. Literary: What can we learn from the evolution of Rachel Carson's work - from observation to advocacy - through her earlier books, Edge of the Sea, Sense of Wonder, etc. to Silent Spring.

A reception will be held in the gallery before the event, from 7:15-7:45 pm.  The December 6th event is part of a year-long program to recognize the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, in partnership with Maine libraries and research institutions, including: Bigelow Labs, Colby College, Maine Sea Grant, Marine Environmental Research Institute, and the University of Southern Maine. 

This program is funded in part by a National Science Foundation grant to the Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence – Ocean Systems, Grant No. OCE-1038737.

For more information, call 207.208.8975 or email Cynthia Randall at or Susan Ryan,

Portland Public Library, Portland, Maine
Contact Name: 
Jennifer Dean
Contact Phone: 
Contact Email:

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