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Distinguished Lecture

April 6, 2023 | 6:30 p.m. | Mandell Theater

Floral image. Award-winning author Terry Tempest Williams will present

Terry Tempest Williams — Finding Beauty in A Broken World

Terry Tempest Williams

Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences is proud to welcome Distinguished Lecturer Terry Tempest Williams, author, conservationist and advocate for free speech.

Join Williams as she addresses the subject of “Finding Beauty in a Broken World: From Erosion to an Ethic of Place.” After her presentation, we invite you to engage with Williams in a Q&A session.

The College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lecture is free and open to the public. Masking is required. Please email any inquiries regarding the event to

About the Distinguished Lecture Series

Williams joins an impressive list of accomplished guests hosted by the Drexel College of Arts and Sciences since 2011 when it first launched the Distinguished Lecture Series. Led by a recognized expert who offers a keen insight into contemporary topics, this keynote event convenes our vibrant liberal arts community in meaningful discussions across different disciplines.

Past lecturers include renowned novelist and human rights activist Sir Salman Rushdie; neuroscientist and best-selling author David Eagleman media maven and businesswoman Arianna Huffington religious scholar, writer and television host Reza Aslan; designer and urban planner Candy Chang; award-winning novelist Zadie Smith; biologist and stress expert Robert Sapolsky, PhD; podcast host and Radiolab creator Jad Abumrad; and Terry Gross, the host and creator of one of public television’s most popular programs, “Fresh Air.”

Award-Winning Author, Environmentalist and Activist

Often called a “citizen writer,” Terry Tempest Williams’ work brings together lyrical prose, advocacy and politics. Her recent opinion piece, “I Am Haunted by What I Have Seen at Great Salt Lake,” (The New York Times, March 25, 2023), speaks to the urgency of climate action through a lens that combines stark science with deep spirituality.

Williams is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books, including the environmental literature classic, “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place,” “An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field,” “The Open Space of Democracy” and her latest work, “Erosion: Essays of Undoing.” Williams’ writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Orion Magazine and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change. Her book, “The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks,” which pays tribute to the centennial of the National Park Service, was a New York Times bestseller. Williams is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. She is the writer-in-residence at Harvard Divinity School.

Publisher MacMillan describes the author’s most recent book, “In Erosion, Terry Tempest Williams’ fierce, spirited, and magnificent essays are a howl in the desert. She sizes up the continuing assaults on America’s public lands and the erosion of our commitment to the open space of democracy.”

Like her writing, Williams cannot be categorized. In Erosion the author states, “I am aware that we hold a multitude of emotions at once. They are not contradictory; they are siblings. One minute I can hardly breathe—and in the next, I am in gales of laughter. Humor is the match I strike to see where I must go, especially when my vision is blurred by sorrow.”

Williams has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. In 2006, she received the Robert Marshall Award from The Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen. She also earned the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award, given by the Center of the American West. Williams was featured in Ken Burns’ 2009 PBS series on the national parks. In 2014, on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, Williams received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. She also received the 2017 Audubon New York Award for Environmental Writing. In 2019, Williams was awarded The Robert Kirsch Award—a lifetime achievement prize—and was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.