Topics for Speaking Engagements

Dr. Niesenbaum is available for academic and public speaking engagements on a variety of topics related to sustainability as described below.  Please email him at Muhlenberg College for more information.

Achieving Sustainability through Innovation, Business, and Impact Investing

An examination of business approaches to achieving sustainability including leveraged non-profit, for-profit and hybrid value chain models of social entrepreneurship; sustainable business including B-corps; and impact investing.  Examples from around the globe are examined as a way to expose barriers to and elements of success in using these approaches to promote sustainability. Systems thinking, true-cost accounting, endowment portfolio reallocation vs divestment, supply chains and vertical integration, and what motivates sustainable business are among the themes that are explored.

A Solutions-Based, Integrative Approach to Teaching Sustainability across the Curriculum

An examination of best practices in educating for sustainability, what causes people to act or disengage from important issues, and how to equip and empower students from all disciplines to meet the challenges for our common future.

Sustainable Approaches to Community Economic Development

An examination of how the key concepts of sustainability can be applied to community economic development in both developed and developing countries.  The focus is on key elements of success, small business models, vertical integration, stakeholder participation and increased access.  New models of community development such as green and worker owned cooperatives like that in Cleveland are explored.

The Legacy and Sustainability of Artisinal Gold Mining in Las Juntas de Abangares, Costa Rica

Globally, over 10 million people including many women and children risk their health and safety to mine for gold because they lack any better economic opportunity. These communities face many problems, including the continued use of mercury in the gold mining process.  This talk will focus on current gold mining activities in Las Juntas, Costa Rica as a case-study that reflects the complexity of artisanal gold mining within historical, socio-economic, cultural, environmental and public health contexts.  The development of cooperative and business based solutions are explored as a way to improve sustainability.

Plant Hunters: Using Historical Data from Herbarium Specimens to study the long-term effects of environmental change and Human Impact on Plant Populations

To study the long-term effects of environmental change on plant populations we need historical data such as that from herbaria. We use historical data from specimens in the Muhlenberg College Herbarium to assess the fate of or threats to locally rare plants, and to determine causes of extinction. This historical approach has great potential for examining the effects of habitat loss, invasive plants, and climate change on rare plants.

This work was featured on NPRs Weekend Edition  and Atlas Obscura

Is Fair Trade a Sustainable Solution?

Fair trade is a social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainable farming that advocates the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards.  Based on his work with Fair Trade coffee growers in northern Nicaragua, Rich offers a critical examination of the benefits and limitations of Fair Trade as a sustainable solution.