Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College

Author to discuss dilemma of ethical consumption Oct. 7

September 24, 2010

Author to discuss dilemma of ethical consumption Oct. 7


Fran Hawthorne

Author and editor Fran Hawthorne will discuss "The Dilemma of Ethical Consumption" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, in Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall. Free and open to the public, the talk is sponsored by the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, Environmental Studies Program, and the departments of American Studies and Economics. 

Shoppers in the 21 stcentury don't just consume, we investigate and categorize the impact of our decisions on climate change, animals, our health, our political views, geopolitical relationships, working conditions, and more. Yet when we actually try to live according to our principles, the choices can be overwhelmingly contradictory and demanding.  Every step, every dollar, every swipe of a paper towel involves decisions that can make the world a better?or worse?place.

As manufacturers seek to meet the growing demand for organic, recycled, humane, and other "ethical" products, consumers are faced with a bewildering array of competing choices and values. Do you buy the locally grown apple at the farmer's market, or the imported organic apple at Whole Foods? The expensive shirt sewn by a neighborhood artist, the somewhat-less expensive shirt made in a union factory, or the one you can afford from a sweatshop that sounds horrible but provides jobs to poor women in Bangladesh?  How do you choose?

As a writer, editor, and award-winning author of three previous books, Fran Hawthorne has spent more than 20 years charting how changing consumer and political pressures have altered American business, from the campaign to pull investments out of South Africa, to the collapse of a secure pension system. During this same time, as a consumer and mother, she has seen these trends whipsaw her own daily life. (Local or imported organic? Union-made or made by a struggling artisan? What's the carbon footprint, what's being boycotted this week, and is it so terrible if my child wants watermelon out of season?) With her latest book, The Overloaded Liberal: Shopping, Investing, Parenting, and Other Daily Dilemmas in an Age of Political Activism, Hawthorne draws on both halves of her experience to analyze the competing pressures that can overwhelm people who try to live according to their ethical standards. 

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Berkeley, Hawthorne was a writer or editor at Fortune, Business Week, Institutional Investor, the Record of Bergen County N.J., and other publications. She is the author of three books on health care and investing, including Inside the FDA: The Business and Politics behind the Drugs We Take and the Food We Eat (John Wiley & Sons, 2005) and the award-winning Pension Dumping (Bloomberg Press, 2008). In addition, Hawthorne writes regularly on a wide range of topics for T he New York Times, Newsday, The Scientist,, The Fiscal Times, and many other publications.

She lives in New York City with her family.


Related News

Students, staff and faculty joined together for an afternoon of mystery “making” at the Hub, a Skidmore maker space.
Apr 19 2018

Skidmore News
The contract for the construction of the first phase of Center for Integrated Sciences (CIS) has been awarded to MLB Construction Services of Malta, New York. The firm also managed the construction of the Hillside apartments, Sussman Village and the Arthur Zankel Music Center.
Apr 19 2018

Inspired by Skidmore professors’ intellectual curiosities and passions, the Scribner Seminar is a cornerstone of the First-Year Experience. Browse a few of the Fall 2018 seminar offerings.
Apr 18 2018