Loyola University Chicago


David W. Orr

Institute of Environmental Sustainability and School of Education

David W. Orr, PhD

Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics, Emeritus, Oberlin College

Candidate for the degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa

David W. Orr, PhD, is a career educator and passionate advocate for the environment and the creation of innovative and sustainable buildings. He is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies & Politics, Emeritus, at Oberlin College, where he also served as counselor to the president for 10 years. Before Oberlin College, he taught at several other institutions, including Schumacher College, the University of Vermont, the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and Agnes Scott College.

Dr. Orr is a founding editor of the journal Solutions and founder of the Oberlin Project, a collaborative effort of the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of Oberlin. He is the author of eight books, including Dangerous Years: Climate Change and the Long Emergency (Yale, 2016) and Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford, 2009) and co-editor of three others. He has authored over 220 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Orr has served as a board member on or adviser to 10 foundations and a board member for many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute, Bioneers, and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. He is currently a trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, Children and Nature Network, and the WorldWatch Institute. He has lectured at hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

During his career, Dr. Orr has been awarded eight honorary degrees and a dozen other awards, including a lifetime achievement award from the North American Association for Environmental Education (2018), a Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, leadership awards from the U.S. Green Building Council (2014) and Second Nature (2012), and a lifetime achievement award from Green Energy Ohio.

In the sustainable building arena, Dr. Orr headed the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years,” as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy, and as one of “52 game-changing buildings of the past 170 years” by the editors of Building Design + Construction magazine in January 2016. He was instrumental in the creation of the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.

Dr. Orr earned a BA at Westminster College (l965), an MA at Michigan State University (l966), and a PhD in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania (l973).