December 10, 2014, BY Heather Johns

Mick Smyer

Bucknell University Provost Mick Smyer has been awarded an Endeavour Executive Fellowship by the Australian government's Department of Education to pursue his project Graying Green: Climate Communication for an Aging World. 

Smyer has studied gerontology for 35 years. Graying Green links two global patterns, climate change and population aging, as well as the psychology of communication.

"Thus far, climate scientists have not targeted older adults for systematic collaboration," said Smyer. "However, older adults are important for developmental and political reasons. Developmentally, older adults are naturally concerned with the well-being of successive generations. Politically, older adults can be potential thought leaders: In developed countries, they vote disproportionately more than other age groups; in traditional societies, they are often revered as sources of wisdom."

The Endeavour Executive Fellowship focuses on learning and building skills and knowledge through a host work environment in a fellow's area of expertise. The fellowship will allow Smyer to further his project through peer-to-peer mentoring in the area of climate science, in addition to consultations with policy makers and colleagues at Australian National University (ANU) active in the international science community's Future Earth Initiative.

"I will also develop collaborations with the Future Earth Initiative, which brings together the United Nations, The International Council for Science and the International Council for Social Science to build on the successes of existing global environmental change programs," Smyer added.

He also plans to explore a memorandum of understanding between Bucknell and ANU. "Both institutions have strengths in and a commitment to sustainability in their curricula and in their faculty's and students' research," he said.

Smyer has held leadership roles in major national organizations in psychology and aging, and has gained significant experience in international collaboration and consultation. As an academic administrator and faculty member, he has co-authored research with international scholars, received two Fulbright fellowships (in Japan and India), and was appointed to the National Academy of Social Insurances.

In July 2015, Smyer will step down as provost of Bucknell, though he will continue as a professor of psychology after a sabbatical. He has also been named a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at Babson College, Lewis Institute, where he plans to pursue the applicability of social entrepreneurship to the Graying Green project. Smyer will also be a visitor at the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication to explore the application of the project's approaches to older adult populations.