Andrew Hoffman, the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise for University of Michigan and an author, will visit Virginia Tech on March 22.

Hoffman will give a 3:30 p.m. distinguished lecture titled “How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate” at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg. The lecture will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing.

The event is coordinated by the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech, with funding from the Fralin Life Science Institute and the Virginia Tech Graduate School. It is free and open to the public. 

Hoffman applies organizational behavioral models and theories to assess the cultural and institutional aspects behind environmental issues, including climate change. His work also addresses how environmental issues evolve socially, politically, and managerially. Hoffman has published 14 books and more than 100 articles and book chapters on these topics, which have been translated into five languages. His 2015 book, "How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate," garnered international media attention.

The book cover of How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate
Hoffman's book, published in 2015

Hoffman’s work has resulted in a long list of honors, including the Aspen Institute’s Faculty Pioneer Award, the Maggie Award, an Aldo Leopold Fellowship, the Rachel Carson Book Prize, and the Klegerman Award.

In this lecture, Hoffman will discuss the sociology and psychology of why people reject climate change and how to address this issue. He offers suggestions for building trust and effectively communicating despite opposing viewpoints, arguing that culture is the barrier to acting on climate change.

“The current public and political debate over climate change in this country is not about carbon dioxide or climate models,” Hoffman said in a lecture at Yale University. “It’s about conflicting world views among people who feel their values are being threatened. We need to understand where they’re coming from.”

Top media outlets, such as The New York Times, Scientific American, National Geographic, Atlantic, and National Public Radio, have featured Hoffman’s work. He has also served on several prestigious research committees, including a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee.

Hoffman’s visit represents the sixth lecture in a public Distinguished Lecture Series sponsored by the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech. The lecture series brings some of the world’s leading scholars to the Blacksburg community to discuss critical environmental and societal issues in an open forum.

“Dr. Hoffman is a dynamic speaker with a strong interdisciplinary perspective on environmental issues. His work has transformed the way we think about the critical leadership role of businesses in environmental sustainability and on the way culture shapes the discussion around environmental issues," said William Hopkins, director of the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech and professor of fish and wildlife conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. "We are extremely fortunate to have him join us in Blacksburg to discuss how factors other than scientific data, such as norms, values, and communication, influence people’s perceptions and beliefs about climate change."

For more information about the event, please contact the Global Change Center at 540-231-5400 or visit their website.

The Lyric Theatre is located at 135 College Ave. in Blacksburg. Doors will open at 2:30 p.m. Metered parking is available on the street as well as in the Kent Square garage. Anyone parking on the Virginia Tech campus before 5 p.m. will need a permit.

Written by Rasha Aridi