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Portland Science Nights

What (Really) Happened on Easter Island

By Terry L. Hunt, Dean of the Clark Honors College

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 • Doors Open at 6:00 p.m.

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, has become widely known as a case study of human-induced environmental catastrophe resulting in cultural collapse. The island’s alleged tragic history is offered as a cautionary tale of our own environmental recklessness and flirtation with failure on a global scale. However, a closer look at the actual archaeological and historical record for the island reveals that while an environmental disaster unfolded, the ancient Polynesians persisted. Indeed, the ancient people succeeded despite the odds. The only “collapse” came with epidemics of Old World diseases introduced by European visitors. Sadly, “ecocide” has been confused with genocide, intended or not, where today the victims have been blamed for their own demise.

In this lecture, Terry L. Hunt, Dean of the Robert D. Clark Honors College, assembles the evidence for the island’s astonishing prehistoric success, and explores how and why this most isolated and remarkable culture avoided collapse. Perhaps Rapa Nui has a lesson for us today, but Hunt provides compelling evidence that it is not the one that has become so popular in recent years.


Widmer Brothers Brewing
929 N. Russel St
Portland, OR


$5 for UOAA Members
$15 for Non-members

Online registration is now closed.
Walk up registration is available at the event.


For additional information, contact Angela Torretta '00 at angela.torretta@gmail.com, or call (800) 245-ALUM.