Vir Das, 2018 Commencement speaker and 2002 Knox graduate, has a new Netflix special out today called "Losing...
Associate Professor of Environmental Studies
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Associate Professor and Chair of Environmental Studies
At Knox Since: 1998
Describe your current research or creative work. What is most interesting about this work?
My current research examines how our civilization can transition from current hydrocarbon energy sources to ones that are much less taxing on our environment and actually beneficial to our social relations. In particular, I've been looking at how solar energy (extracted by wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and concentrated solar power plants) can replace all fossil fuel and nuclear energy sources over the next few decades while providing sufficient energy to the majority of humans who now are suffering from significant energy poverty. Obviously, the ramifications for such a transition would be very significant in a wide variety of areas, including economic and social equality, global peace and national self-determination, and climate harmonization.
How do your students impact your research or creative work?
Every class I teach introduces me to new ideas and ways of thinking, most of which are generated by Knox students in response to each other's thoughts or course readings. Students are given tremendous latitude to study what they want. The directions they take in their research compels me to look "outside the box" and challenges me to be more open-minded and exploratory in my research.
What is your most memorable moment at Knox?
Too many to choose from. Perhaps it was when I witnessed the signing of the Talloires Declaration by our college's president. It represented the adoption of a sustainability framework through which to understand and prioritize our future actions. Time has passed since its signing and Knox has made great strides. However, I wish more people were familiar with it. I think if more of us were, we could take sustainability to the next level. There are so many positive things we can do, we just have to work collectively and with determination.