Conway continues its tradition of inviting speakers to present on a variety of topics at the school. The speakers then join the students for a shared meal. Although the school occasionally opens the lectures to the public, we usually limit the audience to current students. The series as a whole seeks to explore how ecological design is defined, interpreted, and applied in different ways and at different scales by a range of professionals. It encourages students to consider how ecological design principles unfold in practice and to reflect upon the role of ecological design in studio projects.

We choose our lectures carefully to ensure that we cover particular topics, and although we have a fantastic list of speakers, we are always looking to make new connections and increase the diversity of our speaker pool. Please send recommendations to Kate Cholakis ( Ideally, you have seen the speaker present once before.

Fall Speakers (2016)
  • Sue Reed ’87, landscape architect, author of Energy-Wise Landscape Designand Conway alum, presented on integrating ecological aspects into site designs based on existing conditions and client goals.
  • Jesse Bellemare, plant ecologist and professor at Smith College, discussed current research on assisted plant migration in the face of climate change.
  • Dave Jacke ’84, Conway alum and author of Edible Forest Gardens, presented on ecological culture design and how to achieve success in ecological design projects.
  • Rachel Loeffler, landscape architect with Berkshire Design Group, demonstrated the use of graphics to map system flows.
  • Tom Benjamin, landscape architect and owner of Wellnesscapes, led a field trip to a residential site implementing rainwater capture and to an organic community garden.
  • Walt Cudnohufsky, founder of the Conway School, presented on form-finding.
  • Conway held a panel open to the public about sustainable communities in December featuring Gallagher Hannan ’14, CJ Lammers, and Kate Cairoli ’13.

Winter Speakers (2017)

We occasionally swap lectures for field trips. Here, landscape architect Tom Benjamin discusses bioengineering techniques for erosion control.

  • CJ Lammers, environmental planner, presented on large-scale land use planning.
  • Greg Watson, the Schumacher Center’s Director of Policy and Systems Design, discussed community-led planning and civic synergy.
  • Sarah Khan, a two-time Fulbright Scholar, filmmaker, and artist, presented her international work with rural women farmers and local work with immigrant-owned kitchens in Queens.
  • Mollie Babize ’84, Conway alum, presented on narrative and graphic communication.
  • Anne Capra ’00 and Kate Cholakis ’11, both Conway alums, presented on stormwater management history, current stormwater regulations, and green infrastructure case studies.
  • Brian Donahue, professor at Brandeis and author of A New England Food Vision, discussed the potential of local food production.
  • Myrna Breitbart, former Hampshire College professor, shared techniques for community participation in design and planning.
  • Claudia West, landscape architect, consultant with North Creek Nurseries, and author of Planting in a Post-Wild World, discussed ecological planting design.

Students take turns cooking Monday evening meals. The speaker often joins them for dinner. (Photo by Andrew Kilduff ’17)

Spring Speakers (2017)

  • Tobias Wolf, landscape architect, owner of Wolf Landscape Architecture, and Ecological Landscape Alliance board member, discussed aspects of the design process through presenting projects for Cornell’s botanical garden and other large-scale public sites.
  • Darrell Morrison, landscape architect and FASLA, discussed ecological design applications for institutional landscapes such as the Storm King Art Center and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
  • Abrah Dresdale ’10, ecological designer and Conway School alum, spoke about her international work in regenerative design.
  • Tom Benjamin, landscape architect and owner of Wellnesscapes, led a field trip to a site that uses bioengineering techniques to stabilize an eroding slope.
  • Charlie Tracy, landscape architect with the National Park Service, presented a series of projects that use art to connect people to park properties across the country.
  • Myrna Breitbart, former Hampshire College professor, led the class in an exploration of students’ environmental autobiographies.
  • Kate Kennen, landscape architect, owner of Offshots, Inc. in Boston, and author of Phyto, presented opportunities and limitations of phytoremediation.