The Ohio Religion and Sustainability Speakers Bureau provides a listing of expert speakers committed to improving our collective understanding of ecology, the environment, and sustainability from scientific, religious, social, moral-ethical, political, economic, (literary, artistic,) and spiritual perspectives. The speakers listed here may or may not have a particular faith community affiliation, but all are interested in respectful dialogue and sharing of insight.  Many of the speakers will have limited availability due to busy teaching, research or organizational schedules, but you can browse each speaker’s bio to decide if you would like to invite a speaker to your community or event.


Speaker Bios:


Kerry Ard, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sociology, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University; Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Population Research.

Speaking Topics: environmental justice/equity, health disparities

[read more about Kerry Ard‘s work]


Jason Cervenec
Education and Outreach Director, Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University; Lead, Columbus Climate Change Action Plan Task Force

Speaking topics: climate change preparedness and resiliency, climate change education, climate change impacts, and carbon reduction at home and in communities.

The diverse outreach portfolio of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center reaches approximately 12,000 individuals annually and includes programs in cutting edge science, science education, history, and the arts. The most common request for information that Jason receives from the public is on climate change. He is a parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus and volunteers with Franklin County’s Restorative Justice Circles.

[read more about Jason Cervenec‘s work]

Job S. Ebenezer Ph.D, President, Technology for the Poor non-profit, Retired Professor of Engineering, Messiah College and University of New Mexico.

Speaking Topics: global sustainability with a Christian perspective, technologies for the poor, urban agriculture, and environmental degradation and hunger.

A retired professor now, Dr. Ebenezer has taught courses for decades, and has even designed and taught a course called “Global Sustainability – A Christian Perspective”. He has travelled the world and taught workshops on sustainable technologies for the poor. He has also spoken at many conferences, including for the Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. His involvement in earth keeping activities is based on Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.”

[read more about Job Ebenezer‘s work]

Dan Herms, Vice President of Research and Development, Davey Tree; Retired Professor and Chair, Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University.

Speaking Topics: yard and garden, invasive species



[read more about Dan Herms‘s work]

Gregory E. Hitzhusen hitzhusen-new
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Religion, Ecology and Sustainability
, Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources; Board Member, Ohio Interfaith Power and Light; Vice-Chair, Ecological Society of America Environmental Justice Section

Speaking topics: climate change, eco-justice, religion and ecology, sustainability, eco-theology, wilderness spirituality, energy efficiency, starting a green team.

Dr. Hitzhusen has spoken at more than 100 faith community gatherings in Ohio in the last five years, addressing a range of topics to help congregations wrestle with environmental questions and solutions. He serves as coordinator of the Ohio Religion-Environment Speakers Bureau.

[read more about Greg Hitzhusen‘s work]

Elena Irwin
Professor, Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Faculty Director, OSU Sustainable and Resilient Economy Discovery Theme; Research Designee, OSU President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability

Speaking topics: Land Use Economics, Urban Economics, Environmental Economics, Sustainability Science, Coupled Human-Natural Systems.

Elena Irwin is an environmental and urban economist and specializes in land use economics and human-natural systems; she is currently the Faculty Director of OSU’s Sustainable and Resilient Economy Discovery Theme Program. Her research focuses on spatial modeling of land use and the development of integrated models of land use and ecosystem services at local and regional scales.

[read more about Elena Irwin‘s work]

Bryan Mark, Professor, Department of Geography, The Ohio State University; State Climatologist of Ohio.


Speaking Topics: climatology, climate change, environmental issues


[read more about Bryan Mark‘s work]

Dr. Kristin L. Mercer, Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Speaking Topics:


[read more about Kristin Mercer‘s work]

Jeffrey M. Reutter, Ph.D., The Ohio State University
Special Advisor for Ohio Sea Grant College Program and F.T. Stone Laboratory, Ohio State University

Speaking topics: Issues related to changing Lake Erie ecosystem, harmful algal blooms, nutrient loading, aquatic invasive species, linking environmental health and coastal economic development, Great Lakes research needs and priorities, the importance of science education and research, and the importance of scientists communicating with the public.

Dr. Reutter began working on Lake Erie in 1971 and directed 4 programs at Ohio State University from November 1987 to March 2015: Stone Laboratory, Ohio Sea Grant College Program, Center for Lake Erie Area Research, and Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium. He is now a part-time, Special Advisor for the programs and US Co-Chair of the Lake Erie Millennium Network and the Objectives and Loadings Task Team for Annex 4 (nutrients) of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. At OSU he helped create 23 endowments and supported 2200+ students with scholarships, fellowships, and part-time work.

[read more about Jeff Reutter‘s work]

Jeff Sharp, Ph.D, Director, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University.

Speaking Topics: rural-urban interface, sustainable agriculture, local food systems, community development, rural sociology


[read more about Jeff Sharp’s work]


Kareem M. Usher, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning, Austin E. Knowlton School, The Ohio State University.

Speaking Topics: urban food systems – food access, food justice, participatory research, equity planning, regional governance, alternative food economies, neighborhood development and sustainable local economic development.

Dr. Usher’s research focuses on urban food systems at the intersection of food access, social justice, regional governance and community economic development.  Dr. Usher’s work involves utilising mixed-methods and community-based participatory research methodologies to explore perceived as well as objective measures of access to healthy food of food-insecure families in low-access (‘food gap’) communities.

Dr. Usher’s life’s work aims to embody the idea of Planning to Reduce Human Suffering. This theme fuses two branches – Spirituality in Planning and Food as the Foundation for Sustainable Settlements.

[read more about Kareem Usher‘s work]

Robyn S. Wilson, Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Decision Making, Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources; Leadership Team, OSU Sustainable and Resilient Economy Discovery Theme Program

Speaking topics: climate change, agriculture and water quality, wildfire and forest management, carnivore conservation, household sustainability behaviors (energy, water), science and risk communication, climate communication, promoting pro-environmental behavior, community based social marketing.

Dr. Wilson is an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. She is a behavioral decision scientist, focusing primarily on the individual decision making process under risk and uncertainty. Specifically, she studies the interplay between emotion and reason, and the influence of these two ways of knowing on risk perception and ultimately individual choices or behaviors.

[read more about Robyn Wilson’s work]

Tim Van Meter, Coordinator of Ecological Initiatives, and Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Alford Chair, Christian Education and Youth.

Speaking Topics: 

Dr. Van Meter is part of a team leading MTSO to become more sustainable themselves, including sourcing mostly local foods for their dining halls, forming their own organic farm, installing their own sources of renewable energy, and exploring the topic of ecological justice at campus events. He is leading a couple grant projects regarding ecology and anti-racism in theological schools’ curriculums.

[read more about Tim Van Meter‘s work]