Announcing Featured Speakers: Jessy Tolkan, Elizabeth Babcock and Robert Jensen

Written by Ariel Miller | June 18, 2014

We are thrilled to announce Jessy Tolkan, Elizabeth Babcock and Robert Jenson as additions to our lineup of 2014 SXSW Eco Featured Speakers.

Photo of Jessy Tolkan courtesy of the speaker

Jessy Tolkan

Jessy Tolkan currently serves as the Global Director of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development. While currently focused on creating markets shifts in the auto-industry with an eye towards ensuring a more sustainable planet, Jessy has spent the last decade as an activist and movement leader working to build progressive change in the United States. With an expertise in helping nonprofit and advocacy organizations scale their efforts, budgets, and staff talent, Jessy has consulted with some of the leading social change organizations in the United States including: The Working Families Organization, New Organizing Institute, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, GetEqual, HeadCount, 1sky, 350.org, Groundswell, and Wellstone Action.


Photo of Elizabeth Babcock courtesy of the speaker

Elizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D

As Chief Public Engagement Officer and Roberts Dean of Education, Elizabeth C. Babcock, Ph.D. is responsible for creating and implementing engaging exhibits, public engagement and education programs for the California Academy of Sciences. She seeks to ignite a lifelong curiosity about—and love for—the natural world among all of the visitors, students and educators who come in contact with the institution. The first person to fill the Academy’s newly-endowed Dean of Education role, Babcock is responsible for ensuring that the Academy's current and future exhibits remain fresh and engaging for approximately 1.5 million visitors of all ages each year from the Bay Area and around the world.

Babcock was recognized in 2011 as one of the Most Influential Women in Business by the San Francisco Business Times. Before joining the Academy in 2010, she was the Vice President of Education and Library Collections for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. She demonstrated her innovative approach to museum-based education by launching several digital learning initiatives, including “WhyReef” and “Animal Adventures,” virtual world projects for teens and tweens that leveraged museum collections and new technologies to engage these audiences in the topics of ecology and conservation.


Photo of Robert Jensen courtesy of the speaker

Dr. Robert Jensen

Dr. Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and winner of a 2014 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award for the University of Texas System. In addition to his role at UT Austin where he teaches courses in media law, ethics, and politics, Jensen is also a board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin.

At SXSW Eco 2014, Jensen will speak on Coping with the Cascading Crises of World. With economic and ecological crises deepening, more people are facing the harsh reality that modern high-energy/high-technology ways of living—along with the economic system out of which they emerged—have to change if the Earth is to sustain a large-scale human presence in the future. If the American “way of life” is incompatible with a sustainable future, how do we start to talk about—and create—a new way of being in the world? In this talk, Robert Jensen will tell the story of a “plain radical,” a person whose political and personal choices offer a painfully honest but hopeful example.

As an author, Jensen's most recent books include Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue; and We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out. Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film "Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing," which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online here.

Photos courtesy the speakers