Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Elizabeth Rush Investigates the Impacts of Climate Change with a Journey to the End of the Earth

Air Dates: August 14-20, 2023

For longer than anyone can remember, politicians and concerned citizens have asked ‘what kind of world are we leaving our children?’ Elizabeth Rush grappled with that question in a very personal way when she journeyed to Antarctica’s fragile glaciers to chronicle the work of scientists trying to understand the realities of a changing climate.

Rush is the author of “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and “The Quickening: Creation and Community at the Ends of the Earth,” which was released this month.  The act of listening is central to Rush’s writing practice, especially to those who live in front-line climate changed communities and the voices long locked out of environmental conversations.  Her work explores a couple of fundamental questions, “what does our disassembling world ask of us?” and “how can we continue to live and love while also losing much?”  In 2019, Rush joined fifty-seven scientists and crew onboard a research icebreaker for months to visit Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica which is believed to be both rapidly deteriorating and capable of making a catastrophic impact on global sea-level rise this century.  In “The Quickening,” Rush documents their voyage, offering the sublime—seeing an iceberg for the first time; the staggering waves of the Drake Passage, the torqued, unfamiliar contours of Thwaites—alongside the workaday moments of this groundbreaking expedition.  Along the way, she takes readers on a personal journey around a more intimate question: What does it mean to bring a child into the world at this time of radical change?  Rush’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications from the New York Times to Orion and Guernica.  She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Howard Foundation, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the Metcalf Institute.  She teaches creative nonfiction at Brown University.

On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Rush dives into the expedition she took alongside climate scientists to the Thwaites Glacier and her takeaways that inspired “The Quickening.”

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. ET, and Monday 2:30 a.m. ET, on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a project of the Pell Center at Salve Regina University. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.