Virtual Keynote Lecturers

The Geoscience and Society Summit has announced that world-renowned professor of economics and leader in sustainable development, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and political scientist, Jane O'Meara Sanders, founder and Fellow of the Sanders Institute, as the virtual co-keynotes for this game-changing event. Professor Sachs, will highlight the importance of how the global science community can play a leading role in developing solutions to some of our greatest challenges; Dr. Sanders will discuss how the Sanders Institute leverages the global science community to inform solutions to major global challenges. Due to prior commitments as well as staying mindful of carbon footprints, both Professor Sachs and Dr. Sanders will be participating virtually.

About the GSS Keynote Lecturers

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a world-renowned economics professor, bestselling author, innovative educator, and global leader in sustainable development.  He is widely recognized for bold and effective strategies to address complex challenges including debt crises, hyperinflations, the transition from central planning to market economies, the control of AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, the escape from extreme poverty, and the battle against human-induced climate change.  He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development, and an SDG Advocate for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. From 2001-18, Sachs served as Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General, for Kofi Annan (2001-7), Ban Ki-moon (2008-16), and Antonio Guterres (2017-18). 

Professor Sachs was the co-recipient of the 2015 Blue Planet Prize, the leading global prize for environmental leadership. He was twice named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders and has received 28 honorary degrees.  The New York Times called Sachs “probably the most important economist in the world,” and Time magazine called Sachs “the world’s best-known economist.” A survey by The Economist ranked Sachs as among the three most influential living economists.

Professor Sachs serves as the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.  He is University Professor at Columbia University, the university’s highest academic rank. Sachs was Director of the Earth Institute from 2002 to 2016.

Sachs has authored and edited numerous books, including three New York Times bestsellers, The End of Poverty (2005), Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011).  Other books include To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace (2013), The Age of Sustainable Development (2015), Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair & Sustainable (2017), and most recently A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2018).

Prior to joining Columbia, Sachs spent over twenty years as a professor at Harvard University, most recently as the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard.


Jane O’Meara Sanders is the Founder of the Sanders Institute and now serves as a Fellow pursuing bold, progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues.

Jane currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Economic Development Authority. She served as Interim President/Provost of her alma-mater, Goddard College, and as President of Burlington College. A political scientist, Jane has provided educational and political consulting and worked on federal, state and local political campaigns. She also worked in her husband's Congressional office as Chief of Staff and Policy and Press Advisor as a volunteer and has held both appointed and elected office.

Family has always been, and continues to be, a very important aspect of Jane’s life. She is married to Senator Bernie Sanders and they have four children and seven grandchildren.

Jane earned her Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies from Union Institute & University. She also participated in the Institute for Educational Management and Presidents Seminar, two Harvard University educational leadership programs.