March 21, 2019

Event on Wednesday, April 3, will explore the interconnections between humans and nature

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J., March 21, 2019—Yellowstone National Park expert Ryan Atwell, Ph.D., will present “Social-Ecological Challenges in the 21st Century: Facing Our Shadows to Unlock Change” on Wednesday, April 3, as part of Centenary University’s Gates-Ferry Distinguished Visiting Lecture series. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the University’s Sitnik Theater, located in the David and Carol Lackland Center, 715 Grand Ave., Hackettstown.

The presentation will examine the interconnections—good and bad—between nature and humans, emphasizing how lessons from nature can lead to improvements in society. “Humans and nature are interconnected, and we are changing together in ways both unsettling and ripe with new possibilities,” Dr. Atwell explained. “From Yellowstone, we will travel through farms and cities talking about this change. We will explore how scientists, entrepreneurs, health professionals, and artists are learning from changes in nature to build more robust institutions, communities, and societies.”

Dr. Atwell is a social-ecological systems scientist, practitioner and teacher of mindfulness, and co-founder of NatureWerks, a nonprofit that connects people with self, other, earth, and world. He was the first social scientist to work for Yellowstone National Park. His exploration into understanding and managing humans—the least studied animal in the Yellowstone ecosystem—now plays a pivotal role in decision making at the national park. In addition to his professional experience in parks and protected areas, he works in agricultural landscapes, cities, and other places where humans and nature need a little extra help dealing with challenges in their codependent relationships. Dr. Atwell earned a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology, with a concentration in sustainable agriculture, from Iowa State University.


The Gates-Ferry Distinguished Visiting Lecture at Centenary University recognizes the dedication to the University of Joseph R. Ferry, trustee from 1948 to 1976 and treasurer of the Board of Trustees for 20 years. It was established to set high standards and goals for students and faculty, and to enrich the quality of life on the Centenary campus.


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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