Skip to main content

Villanova University Welcomes Elizabeth Kolbert, Author of Its One Book Villanova Program Selection, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History”

Elizabeth Kolbert , author of 2016-17 One Book Selection "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" Visits Campus

Elizabeth Kolbert, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History believes our planet is in a world of environmental trouble, facing what could be the end of life as we know it, unless man-made climate change is acknowledged and sustainability efforts are stepped up immediately. Kolbert’s book was chosen as Villanova University’s 2016 One Book Villanova program selection. In The Sixth Extinction, Kolbert—who will visit the University Thursday, Sept. 22—sounds a clarion call warning that a massive annihilation of 20-50 percent of all living species on Earth could occur by the end of the 21st century unless the public experiences an environmental epiphany and initiates radical ecological

The author’s visit, which coincides with the opening of the University’s annual St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration—an event which honors the University’s patron saint known for his great charity to the poor and marginalized—will begin with a book signing from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers Corner. A One Book Community Dinner honoring the author, and featuring cuisine inspired by the book, will be held from 4:15-7 p.m. in Dougherty Hall. A limited number of tickets are available online at villanovatix for $10. The culminating event, Kolbert’s presentation, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Villanova Room of the Connelly Center. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Tickets are not required. All One Book author visit events are open to the public.

“The topic of sustainability has generated much interest and energy among our students.  It seems that beyond the usual issues of the economy, war, and social unrest, young people today are also worried about their continued existence on the planet,” said Terry Nance, Ph.D., Associate Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Chief Diversity Officer, and One Book Villanova committee co-chair. “Elizabeth Kolbert’s Sixth Extinction provides readers with a fascinating look at parts of our world that are rapidly disappearing and the reasons why.  Most important, the book has stimulated conversations among people who might just begin to impact the problems.” 

In The Sixth Extinction, Kolbert, a New Yorker science writer, explains that the world has undergone five mass extinctions over the last half-billion years, each resulting in an abrupt and radical loss of biodiversity. Scientists worldwide are currently monitoring what they believe to be the sixth extinction. Kolbert reasons that how it plays out is mankind’s choice.

“The Sixth Extinction allows Villanova students, faculty, and staff to think about ways we directly impact our environment, said Jeffrey Brown, Director of Student Involvement and One Book Villanova committee co-chair. “Elizabeth Kolbert shows the importance of taking care of our common home so that future generations have a sustainable world to live in. Climate change does not affect some far off land; but, as our One Book author demonstrates, it is happening right before our eyes.”

Kolbert’s appearance as featured speaker of The St. Thomas of Villanova Lecture kicks off the University’s 11th annual St. Thomas of Villanova Celebration, which includes a full slate of events throughout the weekend – the capstone of which is the University’s St. Thomas of Villanova Day of Service  on Sept. 24.

One Book Villanova is a distinctive educational program that engages all segments of the campus community – students, staff and faculty – in activities presented throughout the academic year which explore dominant themes presented in a selected book. Discussion groups, public readings and special events will enliven and extend the campus community’s examination of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

The selection of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History is one more indicator of Villanova’s strong commitment to sustainability. The University continues to be recognized as one of the nation’s greenest colleges. Villanova has received national recognition for its commitment to sustainability by both Sierra Magazine and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The University recycles and composts up to 41% of its waste, sending all of its trash to Covanta, an energy-from-waste facility that burns the trash for electricity. Villanova has installed 20 hydration stations on campus to make it more convenient to fill up reusable water bottles. The initiative has already saved the equivalent of more than 1.5 million water bottles.  The University also incorporates its commitment to the environment into its community service initiatives. Villanova was named the Green Apple Day of Service Champions by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2014. To learn more about Villanova’s commitment to environmental sustainability, click here.

Details about the author’s visit, the One Book Villanova program, and additional future events open to the public are available on the University’s One Book Villanova Website.

Other selections featured since the One Book Villanova program began in 2005 include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseni; Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy Tyson; Left To Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza; The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls; Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji; The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford; Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan; Good Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum; The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore; and The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande.


Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit