(Ashland, Ore) Southern Oregon University welcomes John Francis ’81 back to campus this week. On Wednesday, Dr. Francis, known the world over as the Planetwalker, will discuss how the current environmental crisis is a reflection of world-wide social and economic inequity and that any attempt to resolve the crisis must not only address the scientific issues, but also the humanitarian issues. His presentation is at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 10, in the Rogue River Room of the Stevenson Union. The talk is free and open to the public.
On Thursday, Dr. Francis will be honored at the university’s annual awards dinner as Southern Oregon University’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2012.
In 1971, Dr. Francis witnessed an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The effects of the spill compelled him to stop using motorized vehicles. Several months later, to stop the arguments about the power of one person’s actions, he took a vow of silence.
His non-motorized lifestyle lasted 22 years, and his silence lasted 17. During that time Dr. Francis walked across the United States, earning a B.A. at (then) Southern Oregon State College, an M.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in land resources at the University of Wisconsin.
He later sailed and walked through the Caribbean and then walked the length of South America. He has written two books, “Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence,” and “The Ragged Edge of Silence: Finding Peace in a Noisy World.”
Dr. Francis is currently an education fellow with the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C., and a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin where he is a member of the board at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
Dr. Francis is still walking and would like to teach a “semester on foot” about walking. He also still plays a banjo and will bring it with him to his presentation.
Dr. Francis says he’s looking forward to his return to Ashland, his first time back in ten years.
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