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Writer/activist Janisse Ray to discuss environmental issues as Visiting Fellow

Visiting writer Janisse Ray is passionate about nonfiction writing and the environment. (photo/

Award-winning author and popular activist Janisse Ray will share her thoughts on how Ohio Northern University can become a more sustainable community, the role of science in environmental issues, and environmental storytelling during a series of campus events as part of a first-time visiting fellows program.

Ray, an American Book Award and the Southern Book Critics Circle Award recipient, has authored multiple creative nonfiction books and memoirs, including The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, a book on open-pollinated seeds; Drifting into Darien: A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a memoir of her life growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast; and A House of Branches, a poetry book.

This week’s events will feature Brown Bag Talks on Monday, Feb. 9, and Tuesday, Feb. 10, at 11:30 a.m. in the Dean’s Heritage Room of the McIntosh Center. The first session will discuss matters counting that progress is being made in impacting the environment. Tuesday’s talk will focus on how ONU can integrate more sustainable practices into the campus. Both sessions are open to all members of the campus community.

On Monday afternoon, Ray will present her views on ecology and the environment while visiting with students in introductory biology classes.

Then, on Tuesday, the author will share tips on turning life stories into memoirs with students in the creative writing workshop course. She will read a selection of her published works at a public reading in the College of Law’s Moot Court Room, starting at 7 p.m. The free event, part of the English Department’s Spring Reading Series, will also have Ray discussing how she writes creative nonfiction, and answers questions for budding authors and creative writers. A reception at 6:30 p.m. will give students another opportunity to meet the visiting fellow.

Wednesday, Feb. 11, will feature Ray visiting introduction to creative writing, ecology, and environmental ethics courses – mixing her passions in writing and science – before leading a writing workshop, starting at 7 p.m., in the McIntosh Center’s Wishing Well Room. She will guide students throughout the process of writing environmental-based stories.

The week concludes on Thursday and Friday with students enrolled in the global environment movement, birds-eye view, and Christianity and the natural world courses getting to meet Ray and discuss her views on environmental issues.

The Council of Independent Colleges’ Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow program has brought prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders, and other non-academic professionals to college campuses across the country for over 35 years. This is the first time ONU has participated in this fellowship.

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