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Valerie McClanahan
Indiana University Press
812 855-5429

Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Scott Russell Sanders' new book 'A Conservationist Manifesto' tackles environmental issues

March 11, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As an antidote to the calamitous culture of consumption, extravagance and waste that he says dominates American life today, celebrated author and Indiana University Bloomingon Professor Scott Russell Sanders calls for a culture of conservation that allows us to savor and preserve our world rather than destroy it.

Scott Sanders

Scott Russell Sanders

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The author raises the question: How might we shift to a more durable and responsible way of life and what changes in values and behavior will be required? Ranging geographically from southern Indiana to Minnesota's Boundary Waters Wilderness -- and culturally from the Bible to advertising billboards -- A Conservationist Manifesto explores how our society ought to live in this heightened time of ecological turmoil and widespread human suffering.

The essays featured in this new collection -- categorized by the sections "Caring for Earth," "Caring for Home Ground" and "Caring for Generations to Come" -- contemplate our place in nature, the pursuit of social justice, the character of community and the search for a spiritual path. Sanders' manifesto defines the changes in mindset and behavior that must take place to alter our human footprint and ensure a healthy world for future generations. He asserts that a conservation ethic is crucial to addressing concerns such as global climate change, the depletion of natural resources, extinction of species and the economic inequities between rich and poor nations. Sanders states that conservation is not a personal virtue, but a public one.

"This book addresses what I take to be the single greatest challenge facing our society, which is to shift from a culture based on consumption to a culture based on conservation, from recklessness to care-taking. At present, merchants and mass media, politicians and pundits, agree in defining us as consumers, as if the purpose of life were to devour the world rather than to savor and preserve it," said Sanders. "What I propose instead is that we imagine ourselves as conservers, as stewards of the earth's bounty and beauty. However appealing consumerism may be to our egos, and however profitable it may be for business, it's ruinous for our planet, our communities and our souls."

A Conservationist Manifesto will be officially published on April 22 by IU Press, but copies of the book are currently available. To order, call 800-842-6796 or visit For review copies or interview requests with Sanders, please contact Valerie McClanahan at 812-855-5429 or

Scott Russell Sanders, Distinguished Professor of English at Indiana University Bloomington, is the author of 20 books of fiction and nonfiction, including Writing from the Center (IUP, 1995), Hunting for Hope and A Private History of Awe. Sanders is winner of the Lannan Literary Award, John Burroughs Essay Award for Natural History, AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction, and the 2009 Mark Twain Award. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana.