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Public lecture by documentarian James Balog to support sustainability award

Oct. 26 event, "A Time Capsule from the Anthropocene: A Conversation with James Balog," to cover human modification of nature, with ticket proceeds benefiting students
19 September 2023
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James Balog.
James Balog

James Balog, an internationally renowned photographer, Emmy Award-winning documentarian, explorer, environmentalist, and founder and president of Earth Vision Institute, will speak at a public event about his career documenting human modification of nature and his most recent film, "The Human Element."

“A Time Capsule from the Anthropocene: A Conversation with James Balog” is being hosted by the Penn State Eberly College of Science at the State Theatre at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26. The talk is intended for a broad community audience, with proceeds from the ticket sales funding a student sustainability award in the college. Tickets can be purchased at the State Theatre or online

The film is available to view on several streaming platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and many others. Individuals with a Penn State ID can access the film online for free.

“Climate change is truly one of the most critical crises of our time and the biggest challenge we collectively face,” said Mary Beth Williams, senior associate dean for science education in the Eberly College of Science. “In our college, we teach at least one class for 90 percent of all Penn State University Park undergraduate students. Increasingly, sustainability continues to be weaved throughout our curriculum, making our opportunity to impact change immense.



“As part of that education, we are incredibly honored to welcome James Balog, an internationally renowned photographer, Emmy Award-winning documentarian, explorer, environmentalist, and founder and president of Earth Vision Institute to our campus.”

For 40 years, Balog has broken new conceptual and artistic ground on one of the most important issues of our era: human modification of nature. An avid mountaineer with a graduate degree in geography and geomorphology, he is equally at home on a Himalayan peak or a whitewater river, the African savannah, or polar icecaps. His film, "The Human Element," is an innovative and visually stunning look at how humanity interacts with earth, air, fire, and water. Its world premiere was at the San Francisco Film Festival in April 2018.

Photo for the Human Element documentary.

To reveal the impact of climate change, Balog founded the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS) in 2007. It is the most wide-ranging, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers ever conducted. The project was featured in the internationally acclaimed documentary "Chasing Ice" and in the 2009 PBS/NOVA special "Extreme Ice." "Chasing Ice" won an Emmy in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Academy Awards. It has been screened at the White House, U.S. Congress, Great Britain’s House of Commons, the United Nations, and major international science and policy conferences, including COP-15 in Copenhagen and COP-21 in Paris. NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, and NPR have done features on his work, as have David Letterman, Bill Maher, and Bill Moyers.

Balog has presented his work at major public institutions like the White House, U.S. Congress, and United Nations, corporations like Apple and Qualcomm, and universities such as MIT, Cornell, Boston College, and now Penn State. Balog’s photographs are housed in dozens of public and private art collections, including the Cantor Museum at Stanford University, Agnes Gund Collection, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Denver Art Museum, International Center of Photography, and Gilman Paper Company. They have been extensively published in most of the world’s major picture-oriented magazines, including National Geographic, Life, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times Magazine. He is also the author of eight books.

For more information, please see the State Theatre event web page.