Robert Bullard speaks about climate change as a human right to kick off Earth Week

Multimedia Reporting by Ginna Royalty

Robert Bullard opens the presentation with some jokes about climate change. Photo by Ginna Royalty

Robert Bullard, also known as the “father of environmental justice” spoke to the Elon community about the importance of climate change and bringing justice to everyone in the United States. Bullard has worked to examine the relationships between class, race, urban planning, environmental health and sustainable development.

Bullard has written 18 books on topics ranging from food insecurity to climate to racism. Although they all differ in topics, they are all connected by the ideas of fairness, justice and equity.

“Climate change is more than talking about greenhouse gases and parts per million,” Bullard said. “It’s also about justice—climate justice!”

One of the major points that Bullard discussed is that clean air, water and food are basic human rights, and yet climate change is making it difficult to achieve these things. And unfortunately, according to Bullard, the communities and countries that contribute the least to climate change are going to be hit the hardest by climate change.

Bullard also emphasized that our most vulnerable communities, children and elderly people, are going to be affected the most as well.

A kid’s job is to be outside and play, but it’s not healthy for kids to breathe this air,” Bullard said. “We need to protect the most vulnerable—thats what environmental justice is about.”

Climate ChangeMany students, professors and Elon community members were in attendance for the start of Earth week.

“I thought Bullard brought up some interesting points about a topic that I previously did not know anything about,” said Elon junior Maggie Filipowich. “It is definitely an issue that more people need to become aware of, which starts with them understanding that climate change is real.”

It is no secret that there is more pollution in bigger, metropolitan cities. Bullard highlighted the importance of developing more sustainable, affordable transportation in metropolitan areas. Public transportation is also an important way to cut down on emissions.

“When we talk about the issue of breathing, America is still segregated,” Bullard said. “People of color are exposed to 46 percent more nitrogen oxide than whites.

Bullard gave a lot of other shocking facts, such as that the asthma rate for African Americans is 35% higher than whites.

“The presentation was full of information that painted the startling reality of environmental racism, said Elon junior Sophie Faxon. “However, I wish it had been more action oriented.”

Bullard discusses the inequality that goes along with climate change. Photo by Ginna Royalty

Bullard also went through maps of the different belts in the United States where climate change is even worse for people that are already vulnerable. This includes minority populations, those who are uninsured and in food deserts and more. According to Bullard, zip codes are the best predictors of health.

At the end of the presentation audience members had time to ask Bullard questions, get books signed and continue the conversation as well as socialize at the Coffee Klatch in the Moseley Kitchen.

For more Earth Week 2017 events, check out this page:


LIVE BLOG: Daniel Gilbert, popular TED Talk lecturer, headlines Elon Spring Convocation

Multimedia reporting by Ginna Royalty

Daniel Gilbert speaks in a TED Talk.

Daniel Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and professor, will be discussing how beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong, among other topics, at Elon University’s Spring Convocation.


The idea comes from his best-selling book, “Stumbling on Happiness” which was on The New York Times bestseller list for six months and has been translated into over 30 languages.

His TED Talk “The Science of Happiness” is one of the 15 most popular talks of all time and more than 20 million people have seen Gilbert’s TED talks.

“He’s a great example of Elon’s priority on bringing world leaders and scholars to campus, giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn from and interact with people who have challenging and inspiring ideas,” said Dan Anderson, vice president for university communications.


The procession begins with faculty, staff and students entering the gym.


“It seems like we have forgotten how to talk to one another.” – Joel Harter


“We invite you to contemplate the lessons of springtime…and to recommit ourselves to live lives of purpose and meaning.” -Joel Harter


President Leo Lambert welcomes the crowd and talks about the purpose of Spring Convocation.

“Education, specifically higher education, has long been viewed as a gateway to opportunity”    -President Lambert


Lambert speaks of the benefits of higher education including higher wages and happier lives as well as the endless opportunities.

“Higher education lights a path for the future…It helps us create a more engaged and democratic society.”


“I ask each of you to dive into our national dialogue about education. I ask you to be vocal champions of higher education.”


Lambert thanks the Elon community for helping make the world a better place and welcomes India Johnson to welcome Dr. Gilbert to the stage.


Associate professor of psychology India Johnson takes the stage and talks about how Dr. Gilbert has inspired her to follow the academia route.

His not-so-traditional beginnings helped her find her way.


The audience members listen to Daniel Gilbert

Dr. Daniel Gilbert takes the stage.

“I want to hear that one more time and then we should all go get drinks. That was the nicest introduction I’ve had” -Dr. Gilbert


Gilbert jokes about how the audience won’t ask him what will be on the test and goes into what is the secret of happiness.


Happiness is what you would experience if you got to have everything you needed and wanted according to our ancestors.


“In places where people have the lights on at night, people basically have everything they need.”

“We are aiming for things that will bring us happiness but when we get them they are just not true….People often want the wrong thing.”


“Cigarettes, coke, and tv were happiness for my mother.”

“Where most of us turn for happiness is our culture. Every taxi driver and bartender have a theory about what you need to do if you want to be happy. But guess what, none of their theories are based on evidence.”


“To do science it really only requires one thing, you must be able to measure it. If you can’t measure things, you can’t do science. Then you need to write poems about it or something.”


“Some of you are skeptical, I’m not sure you can do science by asking people questions about what science means to them.” Gilbert provides an example of going to the eye doctor and answering questions about which lens is better.


Gilbert’s mom said if you want to have a happy life you need three things: marriage, make money and children. This is advice mothers all over the world give. “Find someone, do well, and have babies.”


Gilbert asks, “How many people here think marriage causes happiness?” The audience laughs as none of the young people raise their hand and an older woman raises her husband’s hand.


Gilbert discusses the differences in happiness between married and single people. Young people and older people are in the happiest days of their lives.


“Isn’t it possible that happier people are more likely to get married? Yes, it’s possible and even makes sense.” Happier people do better on the marriage market.

“We still see that marriage is a cause of happiness”


As people are moving toward marriage they are getting happier and happier. And then after the wedding, the line [of happiness] goes down”


Gilbert talks about how happiness rebounds after divorce.


“Does money make you happy?” People always will say no, but money will make people happy. People don’t become sadder when you increase their income.


How much money do you need to actually be happy? It’s about $65,00 a year, you have gotten 90% of happiness out of money that you can possibly get.


“The way people spend money is incorrect, often it’s not the kinds of things that will make you happy.”


“An occupied mind is a happy mind.”


Gilbert discusses how you should spend your money. “Spend more money on experiences and less on stuff.”

“Experiences are usually done with other people. Human beings get great amounts of happiness from their human relationships.”


Gilbert talks about how you can’t compare experiences with other people as you can with ‘stuff.’

“Doing good things for other people makes you happy.”


“Children are the thing we name after happiness. ‘How’s the new bundle of joy?'”

“People with children are less happy than those without them and people with children are the least happy when they live with them.”


“For women, being with their children is like scrubbing a toilet.”


“My perception as a living breathing human with a child is that they’re crazy.”


“There is a “parenthood penalty.” Across the world, children mainly lower the happiness of women and barely lower the happiness of men.”

Women are doing all the work, which is why their happiness is going down.

“Children actually increase happiness if you’re a widow. If you’re 18-25 children will not make you happy. But if you’re in your 50’s you’ll get a benefit out of children.”


“Children seem to bring happiness to older, single men and take happiness from younger, single women.”

Gilbert goes back to the things that his mother said would make him happy.


“Happiness is what matters. It’s our project…It’s the thing that we’re on earth to do. But we look to the wrong places for where it can be found.”

“The more we learn about the true causes of happiness, the more we can get for us and those in our communities.” Dr. Gilbert thanks the audience for their time and exits the stage.


President Lambert comes back to the stage and recognize’s students on the President and Dean’s List. He also recognizes members of different honor societies and the class of 2017.

Daniel Gilbert discusses the differences women have in terms of happiness

Harvard professor Dan Gilbert to speak at Elon University Spring Convocation

By Ginna Royalty

Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and professor, will be discussing how beliefs about what will make us happy are often wrong, among other topics at Elon University’s Spring Convocation on Thursday, March 30 at 3:30 pm.

Dan Gilbert, Harvard professor and psychologist

This idea comes from Gilbert’s book “Stumbling on Happiness,” a deep and delightful explanation of what psychologists, neuroscientists and behavioral economists have discovered about why people are so poor at predicting the sources of their own satisfaction.

“Gilbert is widely known for his research into having a great quality of life,” said Dan Anderson, vice president for university communications. “His best seller Stumbling on Happiness and three popular TED talks have popularized his work as a social psychologist.”

Gilbert has won numerous awards for his research and teaching, including the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for an Early Career Contribution to Psychology. More than 20 million people have seen Gilbert’s TED talks, and his first TED talk remains one of the 15 most popular of all time.

“He’s a great example of Elon’s priority on bringing world leaders and scholars to campus, giving students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn from and interact with people who have challenging and inspiring ideas,” said Anderson.

Gilbert will also provide insights on how determining what will make “us” happy often has dramatic implications for business strategies, sales and marketing, and understanding customers. Tickets will become available on March 9 for $13 or free with a valid Elon ID.