CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will host a major public symposium called "Song for the Blue Ocean" that will feature nationally recognized authors, scholars and scientists exploring the state of the world's oceans through science, arts and ethics.

The free, public event will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18-19, at LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus.

Speakers include Carl Safina, MacArthur Fellow and author of "Song for the Blue Ocean"; Julia Whitty, prize-winning author of "Fragile Edge" and environmental correspondent for Mother Jones magazine; ecologist Rick Steiner, winner of the Muckraker of the Year Award for his work with the Gulf oil spill; and many OSU scientists and writers. The musical group "Shanghaied on the Willamette" will sing sea shanties, and filmmakers Sven Huseby and Barbara Ettinger will show their film, "A Sea Change." 

A unique attraction of the "Song for the Blue Ocean" symposium is the way it weaves the best new science into the context of the best in literature, ethics, and art about the ocean, organizers say.

"This is not your usual scientific or literary conference," said Kathleen Dean Moore, director of the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word, the sponsor of the event. "Our goal has been to create something new under the sun, where scientific facts meet human culture the way the sea meets the shore, in a rich littoral landscape of insight and moral clarity." 

At the symposium, for example, OSU geoscientist Peter Ruggiero will present evidence of the sharply increasing height of waves along the coast as OSU English professor Peter Betjemann reads dramatic literary descriptions of waves.

 "These are pivotal times for oceans," said Charles Goodrich, program director for Spring Creek. "How can we balance our love for the beautiful, flashing fecundity of marine life and our deep concern about the future of the oceans?"

The event is organized by the Spring Creek Project, working with the OSU's Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science and Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences.

A full schedule can be found at:

Here are some of the highlights of the two-day event:

Friday, Feb.18

 9 a.m. to noon: Workshops: Speaking with science (advance registration opens Jan. 31); workshop on science blogging with author Whitty; creative writing workshop with poet Judith Barrington; workshop on documentary filmmaking with the team of Huseby and Ettinger;

7-8:30 p.m.: Keynote address: "Song for the Blue Ocean" by Safina. Safina is a prominent ecologist and marine conservationist and president of Blue Ocean Institute, an environmental organization based in New York. He has also been a recreational fisherman since childhood. A winner of the prestigious Pew Fellowship, MacArthur Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship, Safina has written five books, including "Song for the Blue Ocean: Encounters Along the World's Coasts and Beneath the Seas," and his newest, "The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World."

Saturday, Feb. 19

9-11 a.m.: OSU scientist Kelly Benoit-Bird, a 2010 MacArthur Fellow, and writer Whitty on "Science and Stories through Oceans of Sound"; writer Betjemann and scientist Ruggiero on "The Roaring Waves in Science and Literature"; scientist Burke Hales and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore on "Science and Ethics of Ocean Acidification";

1 p.m.: Plenary address by Whitty, author and activist on "Our Deep Blue Home." Whitty is a former nature documentary filmmaker, author, and environmental correspondent at Mother Jones. Her newest book, "Deep Blue Home: An Intimate Ecology of our Wild Ocean" was named the best nonfiction book of 2010 by the Washington Post;

4 p.m.: Steiner, scientist and activist, on "A Call to Act for the Oceans: The Exxon Valdez, the Gulf Oil Spill, and the Next Big One." Steiner is a former professor who specializes in marine conservation, working internationally on conservation and sustainable development issues;

7:30 p.m.: "A Sea Change," Screening of documentary followed by Q&A with the filmmakers. "A Sea Change" follows the journey of Huseby, a retired history teacher on his quest to discover what is happening to the world's oceans. It is the winner of the NOAA Environmental Hero Award and the Grand Prize for Feature Documentary at the International Festival of Environmental Film and Video.


Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198

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