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Master Storyteller Transfixes Audience in Year’s Final Colloquium

Author and activist Rick Bass offers a thoughtful exploration of individual environmental responsibility.
Author and activist Rick Bass offers a thoughtful exploration of individual environmental responsibility.
Audience members sit rapt by the speaker’s storytelling. (Second from right is Daniel J. Doyle, for whom the colloquia series is named. He is seated between two retired English professors: Ned S. Coates to his right and Richard M. Sweeney.)
Audience members sit rapt by the speaker’s storytelling. (Second from right is Daniel J. Doyle, for whom the colloquia series is named. He is seated between two retired English professors: Ned S. Coates to his right and Richard M. Sweeney.)
Prior to the lecture, Bass converses with Mark D. Noe (left) professor of English-composition, and Brad L. Nason, associate professor of mass communications.
Prior to the lecture, Bass converses with Mark D. Noe (left) professor of English-composition, and Brad L. Nason, associate professor of mass communications.
Wise words fill the auditorium's impressive space.
Wise words fill the auditorium’s impressive space.
Construction management senior Shawn A. Mayberry, of Clarksburg, Md., talks with Bass at the post-lecture book signing and reception in Wrapture.
Construction management senior Shawn A. Mayberry, of Clarksburg, Md., talks with Bass at the post-lecture book signing and reception in Wrapture.

“The great danger of science and technology is the myth that we know where we are going,” cautioned Rick Bass to his Tuesday audience in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium. “The best scientists are the ones who are willing to say, ‘I don’t know.’” The acclaimed writer and environmental activist presented “A Pilgrim’s Wilderness: Lessons on the Environment, War & Technology,” the final event in the Daniel J. Doyle Technology & Society Colloquia Series for the 2015-16 academic year. Interspersing conversation with readings from his fiction and nonfiction works, Bass mesmerized the audience of more than 125 campus and community members with the crafted chronicles of his earlier career as a petroleum geologist to his current devotions to activism and the short story. In relation to energy explorations, he said, “We have no idea of the harm we inflict now and in the unseen and unknowable futures.” Addressing endangered and extinct animals, he read, “What other bright phenomena will vanish in our lifetimes, becoming one day merely memory and story, tale and legacy, and then fragments of story and legacy, and then nothing, only wind?” Following a question-and-answer session, Bass signed copies of his books during a reception in Wrapture. Prior to the evening gatherings, Bass visited environmental science, architectural history and renewable energy classes, and was interviewed for “Build & Grow Green,” the second episode of the college’s “Working Class” public television series. Bass’ complete talk is available on the college’s YouTube channel.