MODERATOR: Bill Blakemore
PARTICIPANTS: Musa Syeed, Richard Matthew, Mohan K. Wali
PROGRAM DATE: Friday, May 31, 2013

Enjoy a special festival screening of the beautiful new film Valley of Saints, winner of the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation prize awarded at Sundance for feature films focusing on science or technology.

An alluring young scientist returns to her exotic but troubled homeland of Kashmir and profoundly changes the life of the boatman who becomes her guide. The film is followed by a lively discussion exploring how science can help protect natural resources, enrich our connection to the environment, strengthen communities—and even begin to heal conflict zones. This intimate screening is a chance to experience a deeply moving union of science, society and story.

This program is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation as part of its Public Understanding of Science and Technology initiative. Presented in collaboration with the Museum of the Moving Image.

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Bill Blakemore
News Correspondent

Bill Blakemore became a reporter for ABC News 45 years ago, covering a wide variety of stories. He spearheaded ABC’s coverage of global warming, traveling from the tropics to polar regions to report on its impacts, dangers, and possible remedies. Overseas he has covered a dozen wars or major conflicts, including the Black September, Bangladesh, 1973 Arab-Israeli, Iranian and Beirut civil wars, as well as the Iraq wars (from Baghdad), and the Afghan/Taliban war. On 9/11, he reached Ground Zero before the towers fell. He was ABC’s Rome bureau chief 1978-1984, traveled extensively with John Paul II and wrote several documentaries and the Encyclopaedia Britannica article about him. Since 1984, he’s been based in New York, where he also served as education correspondent. He began focusing on biodiversity, extinctions, and global warming in 2004, as well as the emerging sciences of play behavior and animal intelligence, and hosted ABC’s Nature’s Edge until 2012. He has won most major broadcast journalism awards. He currently writes and lectures on the journalistic profession, the “Many Psychologies of Global Warming,” and the cinematic art of Stanley Kubrick.


Director, Writer

Musa Syeed is a writer and director. His first feature, Valley of Saints won the World Cinema: Dramatic Audience Award and the Alfred P. Sloan Film Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film will have a theatrical release later this summer.

He previously co-produced the award-winning documentaries, Bronx Princess and A Son’s Sacrifice. Syeed also co-produced the interactive storytelling platform 30 Days Ramadan, which was developed at the ITVS/Mozilla Hackathon.

Syeed has taught film for Williams College and was a Fulbright fellow in Egypt.

Environment, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Specialist

Richard Matthew is a professor in the schools of social ecology and social science at the University of California at Irvine, and founding director of the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs. He studies the environmental dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding, climate change adaptation in conflict and post-conflict societies, and the process of transitioning societies from crisis to sustainability. Matthew has done extensive field work in conflict zones in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. His research is widely diffused beyond academic outlets to support the efforts of practitioners in the conservation and humanitarian communities. He was the lead author of the United Nations policy justification, “From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment.”

Matthew is a senior fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Geneva; a senior fellow at the Munk School at the University of Toronto; a senior member of the UNEP Expert Group on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding; and a member of the World Conservation Union’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy. He has served on several UN missions, including two that he led to Sierra Leone, and he was the lead author of the UN technical report, “Sierra Leone: Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding Assessment.”


Mohan K. Wali is Professor Emeritus in the school of environment and natural resources (SENR) at Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus. At OSU since 1990, he served as director both of SENR, and of the OSU’s multi-college environmental science graduate program. He was also a professor in the John Glenn school of public affairs. Earlier, he served on the faculty and administration of the State University of New York at Syracuse and of the University of North Dakota.

An ecologist-environmental scientist by training, he and his associates and graduate students have conducted research in Kashmir Himalayas, the Danish woodlands, Canadian boreal forests, mid-continent North America, and the Eastern temperate deciduous forest on vegetation-environment relationships, restoration of disturbed systems, and most recently, on impacts of global climate change. His work has been cited in numerous professional papers and in over 100 research-and-textbooks. Recipient of both research and teaching awards, Wali was a National Lecturer (now designated Distinguished Lecturer) of Sigma Xi The Scientific Research Society for two years. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of India.