Bateman Lecture features Elizabeth May

July 13, 2011
Amy Dove

It won't always be glamorous, but you'll know it's the only work worth doing.

That's the advice Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands, offers anyone looking for a career that is as good for the planet as it is for themselves. She will share her thoughts July 19 as the guest speaker for the 2011 Robert and Birgit Bateman Lecture at Royal Roads University.

"Do what you love," she says. "Dance, design buildings, file law suits... but dedicate your efforts to turning the world around."

The most effective leaders are the ones that follow a model of service leadership and measure life's worth outside of a monetary system, she says. Changing a culture to better the environment is about a movement, not individual heroes and people need to remember that while one person can change the world, it is only because so many other people share their inspiration and dedication.

May joined the environmental movement in the 1970s. She has made a career as a writer, activist, lawyer, leader of the Green Party of Canada, and Member of Parliament elect for Saanich-Gulf Islands. She became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2005, was elected leader of the Green Party in 2006, and in May 2011 became the first Canadian Green Party candidate elected to office. In November 2010, Newsweek Magazine named her "one of the world's most influential women."

Universities have a large role to play in preparing the workforce to do "good work," she says. Strong environmental leaders need to be schooled in the ways of politics, pressure points, and successful campaigning, May said. Universities need to educate people on how voting matters and how government works in order for people to be able to work the system for positive change.

"It is not enough to know about the science of climate change; leaders need to know how to mobilize public engagement," May says. "Universities need to ground students in the knowledge that societies can and do turn around; that campaigns can and do get won. Incremental change is no longer an option."

The 2011 Robert and Birgit Bateman Lecture is July 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Hatley Castle Drawing Room. Admission to the event is by donation (suggested donation $10-$15). The money supports the Birgit and Robert Bateman Bursary. The bursary is available to one or more graduate learners enrolled in the School of Environment and Sustainability's Environmental Education and Communication program, who demonstrates a strong involvement in environmental education and/or communication and also present significant financial need. This award reflects the Batemans' shared life-long commitment to education and the environment.

Previous speakers at the annual event include: Bill Hammond, Cheryl Charles, Bob Peart, Vicky Husband, Guy Dauncey and Robert Bateman.

Written by Amy Dove (

Photo Credit: Laura Keil