Undergraduate Commencement Speaker Proponent of Science and Sustainability


Sandra Postel is making a difference in – and for – the world as a leading expert on international freshwater issues.

A respected author, scholar, lecturer and consultant on global water protection, she serves as director of the Global Water Policy Project, which she founded in 1994 to promote the preservation and sustainable use of the Earth’s fresh water. She will also serve as the principal speaker at The University of Scranton’s undergraduate commencement Sunday, May 26.

“As a proponent of an international water ethic, Sandra brings a global perspective to a common concern, using research and science to educate the world about issues concerning a precious natural resource,” said University of Scranton President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J. “She is an ideal choice to address our students during the year in which the University celebrates the completion of the Loyola Science Center and science itself as a human endeavor.”

Postel will receive an honorary degree from the University at the ceremony.

A leading authority and prolific author on international water issues, Postel is author of “Last Oasis: Facing Water Scarcity” (W.W. Norton, 1992, revised 1997), which was chosen by Choice magazine as a 1993 Outstanding Academic Book and has been published in eight languages. The book was the basis for a 1997 PBS documentary “Last Oasis.” She also wrote “Pillar of Sand: Can the Irrigation Miracle Last?” (W.W. Norton, 1999) and co-authored “Rivers of Life” (Island Press 2003) and “Saving the Planet: How to Shape an Environmentally Sustainable Global Economy” (W.W. Norton, 1991).

In 2010 Postel was appointed Freshwater Fellow at the National Geographic Society. She is also co-founder and host of National Geographic’s freshwater blog.

Postel is the author of more than 100 articles that have been published in popular magazines and scholarly journals, including Science, Natural History, Scientific American and International Wildlife. Her essay “Troubled Waters” was selected for the 2001 edition of Best American Science and Nature Writing. Her op-ed features have appeared in newspapers across the country including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post. Her numerous television appearances include ABC’s “Nightline,” CNN’s “Futurewatch,” and BBC’s “Planet Earth.” She has addressed the European Parliament on environmental issues and was named a 1995 Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment.

Postel serves as water fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, and has served as an advisor to the Division on Earth and Life Studies of the U.S. National Research Council.

She received a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in geology and political science from Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, and a master’s degree with emphasis on resource economics and policy from Duke University, Durham, N.C., where she received the Duke University School of Environment’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

The University’s undergraduate commencement ceremony will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza, Wilkes-Barre, on Sunday, May 26, at noon.

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