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Dr. Britt Wray: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Anxiety

Thursday, April 25, 2024, 6:00 p.m.
Blue Ridge Ballroom (201AB), Plemmons Student Union

Our climate change anxieties have never been more overwhelming—but they’re also the key to saving the planet. Britt Wray shows us how to embrace our complicated, messy emotions about the climate crisis. Her research on the psychological toll of climate change, outlined in her brilliant book Generation Dread, reveals a surprising truth: that acknowledging and dealing with climate anxiety helps us find purpose, avoid burnout, and solve both mental health and ecological problems. She’s the Director of CIRCLE—a research and action initiative focused on Community-minded Interventions for Resilience, Climate Leadership and Emotional wellbeing—at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Join us to learn about Dr. Wray’s inspiring and timely work at the intersection of climate change and mental health, and to help us begin thinking about how we can implement community-minded, socio-emotional support programs for climate resilience on our campus.

Dr. Britt Wray’s visit to App State is hosted by the Pathways to Resilience QEP with support from the following campus partners:

  • University Forum Lecture Series
  • Dept. of Sustainable Development
  • Beaver College of Health Sciences
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Fine and Applied Arts
  • Honors College
  • Reich College of Education
  • Walker College of Business
  • University Libraries
  • Office of Sustainability

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Britt Wray (www.brittwray.com) is a ground-breaking researcher and storyteller, and a growing voice around the mental health effects of climate change. She’s the Director of CIRCLE (Community-minded Interventions for Resilience, Climate Leadership and Emotional wellbeing) at Stanford Psychiatry in the Stanford School of Medicine. She draws on rigorous investigation and insightful interviews with therapists, activists and researchers to make the scientific case for embracing our climate crisis emotions—especially the ones we’d prefer to ignore. When we heal ourselves through community and open communication, we’ll be better equipped to heal the planet.

Britt’s acclaimed book Generation Dread, about finding purpose during the climate crisis, is an honest, profoundly compelling exploration of our climate-related stresses and “a road map out from under the burden of environmental chaos, made all the more compelling by the way it tracks her own journey” (Macleans). It was named a finalist for the 2022 Governor General’s Literary Awards. In Generation Dread, Britt takes a candid look at the many ways our “eco-distress” pushes us into a state of grief, numbness or fatalism, and how it makes us burn out and question big life decisions like whether to have children. But she doesn’t leave us in our anxiety. She reveals how the very grief that pains us can also mobilize and transform us, and how emphasizing support and community will help us protect our planet and its inhabitants. David Wallace-Wells, the New York Times bestselling author of The Uninhabitable Earth, calls Generation Dread “a marvelous exploration of the divergent, sometimes paradoxical, but always human ways in which we navigate the effects of climate change.”

She is the creator of the weekly climate newsletter “Gen Dread” about staying sane in the climate crisis. A highly in-demand speaker, she’s given talks at TED and the World Economic Forum alongside the likes of Jane Goodall, Al Gore, Yuval Noah Harari, Johan Rockström, and Ban Ki Moon. As a science communicator, she has hosted several podcasts, radio and TV programs with the BBC, NPR, and CBC, and is a Chicago Council on Global Affairs Next Generation Climate Changemaker.

Britt is the recipient of the 2023 Canadian Eco-Hero Award and top award winner of the National Academies Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications, given by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Her previous book, Rise of the Necrofauna, was described as a “must-read” by The Sunday Times, and The New Yorker called it one of the best books of the year. She has a PhD in Science Communication from the University of Copenhagen, and is an advisor to the Good Energy Project for climate storytelling and the Climate Mental Health Network.