The 21st Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College will take an in-depth look at environmental issues with "Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes" on Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 2-3.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The symposium will include local and global perspectives on the issue, with topics ranging from contamination in the Kalamazoo River, to oil drilling on the Great Lakes, to the disposal of chemical weapons. Keynote address topics will include an overview of the general topic, perspectives on Christianity and the environment, and steps for the future.

"In examining the environment we are, in fact, seeking to understand our relationship with the planet," said Alfredo Gonzales, who is associate provost at Hope and chair of the symposium. "Pollution of any sort--in water, air or ground--will in large measure diminish the quality of life as we currently know it. We must, therefore, use our minds and all of our material resources to care for the planet. This is our moral duty, this is what it means to be citizens of the world."

"In sponsoring the Critical Issues Symposium, Hope College continues its academic tradition of preparing students to wrestle with the most critical issues of our time," he said. "We can not think of a more critical issue than the environment."

The symposium presentations will be preceded by a concert by the Hope College Jazz Ensemble on Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The opening keynote address, "Designing a Better World," will be presented on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel by David Orr, who is professor and chair of the environmental studies program at Oberlin College in Ohio. Orr was behind the effort to design and build Oberlin's Environmental Studies Center, a $7.4 million building which produces more energy than it uses. His talk will provide an overview of the environment as a topic in addition to exploring how deliberate effort in development can minimize negative ecological impact.

A group of seven concurrent roundtable discussions will follow at 8:30 p.m. at a variety of campus locations. Topics include politics and the environment; nuclear energy and fossil fuels; oil drilling under the Great Lakes; literary environmentalism; urban development; environmental racism; and recycling and ecologically-oriented efforts at Hope.

At 10 p.m. on Tuesday, musician Erik Muiderman and combo will present a concert with an environmental theme in the Knickerbocker Theatre.

The symposium will continue on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 9 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel with a keynote address by Calvin DeWitt focused on Christianity and the environment. DeWitt is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, director of the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies and co-founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

During the college's Chapel service on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., Wesley-Granberg-Michaelson will discuss the environment. Granberg-Michaelson, who is general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and a 1967 Hope graduate, is author of several books and articles on the environment.

Two series of concurrent focus sessions will follow, at 11:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. respectively. In addition to presentations by the event's keynote speakers and Granberg-Michaelson, the sessions will include topics such as "Assessing Environmental Risk at Contaminated Sites Along the Kalamazoo River"; "French Fries, Tuna Fish, and Nerve Gas: Getting Toxins Off the Menu"; and "Beyond Headlines and Hype: Grassroots Activists Bringing Social Change."

The concluding keynote address, which will consider the ocean and the environment as well as actions that can make a positive difference in the state of the planet, will be delivered on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel by Susan Power Bratton, who is professor and chairperson of environmental studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

In addition, an "Environmental Fair" will run on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the college's Pine Grove (lower level of Dimnent Memorial Chapel if rain). The fair will feature displays by a number of local organizations focused on the environment.

Multiple related events have also been scheduled in advance and following the symposium. Admission to most of the events is free.

Performance artist Billy Curmano will present "Muck Minnow, Gill Boy" on Thursday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre. An exhibition of Curmano's work will run Friday, Sept. 28, through Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Holland Area Arts Council. There will be an artist's reception on Friday, Sept. 28 from 6-8 p.m.

Ken Freestone, executive director of the Macatawa Greenway Partnership, will present "Ken Freestone and Kermit the Frog: We Like Bein' Green" on Friday, Sept. 28, at 3 p.m. in room B50 of the Peale Science Center through the college's Biology Seminar Series.

Harry Potter, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Purdue University, will present "Power, Social Change and the Environmental Movement Room" on Friday, Oct. 5, at 8:30 a.m. in room 240 of Van Zoeren Hall.

The San Francisco Mime Troupe will present "Eating It," a comedic examination of the topic of genetically engineered foods, on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre. Live music will begin at 7:30 p.m., and audience discussion will follow the program. Tickets for "Eating It" will be sold at the door, and cost $10 for regular adult admission and $5 for students.

First held in 1980, the Critical Issues Symposium is an annual all-campus event, offered as a part of the college's academic program, that examines a socially significant issue via presentations and small group discussions led by experts. Past symposium topics have ranged from apartheid in South Africa, to the American dream, to genetic engineering and research, to feminism and faith, to the Internet.