Recipient of the 2019 Praxis Award in Professional Ethics
April 11, 2019 7PM
Dr. Michael E. Mann is Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State, with joint appointments in the Department of Geosciences and the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute (EESI). He is also director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center (ESSC).
Dr. Mann received his undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Math from the University of California at Berkeley, an M.S. degree in Physics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in Geology & Geophysics from Yale University. His research involves the use of theoretical models and observational data to better understand Earth's climate system.
Dr. Mann was a Lead Author on the Observed Climate Variability and Change chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Scientific Assessment Report in 2001 and was organizing committee chair for the National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science in 2003. He has received a number of honors and awards including NOAA's outstanding publication award in 2002 and selection by Scientific American as one of the fifty leading visionaries in science and technology in 2002. He contributed, with other IPCC authors, to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. 
His accomplishments garner him attention from those who deny climate change and the role that humans play through the production of greenhouse gases. Last year he was in Washington, DC for a committee hearing in the House of Representatives on the topic of climate change. The chairman of the committee at the time is an avowed climate change denier. He invited Michael Mann and three other scientists who are climate change skeptics, scientists in the 3% of scientists worldwide who reject the overwhelming consensus of studies that detail climate change and human contribution to that change. Clearly, the agenda of that hearing sought to discredit Michael Mann as a scientist.
He is a scientist who has decided that he must leave his lab (where he would prefer to be) to engage the public, both our leaders and the public at large, about science and about its critical importance to public policy. He has done this at the risk of being vilified on social media and dragged into contentious public fora. As he says in a 2014 essay written for the New York Times, “If scientists choose not to engage in the public debate, we leave a vacuum that will be filled by those whose agenda is one of short-term interest. There is a great cost to society if scientists fail to participate in the larger conversation – if we do not do all we can to ensure that the policy debate is informed by an honest assessment of the risks. In fact, it would be an abrogation of our responsibility to society if we remained quiet in the face of such a grave threat.”
The Ethics Program of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences recognizes this individual for his professional courage, his scientific work, his commitment to defend science against those who seek to politicize the findings of science, and his recognition that scientists do their work in the context of a global and interdependent reality. We need science in order to navigate the challenges of that reality; and we need scientists to speak up, as Professor Mann has done, and continues to do, in the present moment.
The event is open to the public. Join us on Thursday, April 11th at 7PM in the Villanova Room. This event is sponsored by the William T. Dunn, ’55 Ethics Program Endowed Fund, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Villanova School of Business and the Louise M. Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.