Vermont State Senator Robert Hartwell closes Lawrence University’s 2009-10 convocation series Thursday, May 20 with the address “America at the Crossroads: Accepting the Climate Change Challenge.”

The presentation, at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, will be followed by a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema. Both events are free and open to the public.

A 1969 graduate of Lawrence, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in government, Hartwell enjoyed a successful career as a labor attorney before turning his attention to interests in community service and real estate.

His pursued his passion for environmental protection and land stewardship through trustee positions with the Vermont Land Trust and the Vermont River Conservancy. He also is a former director of the organization Vermonters for a Clean Environment.

In 2006, he sought public office, running for and earning a seat in the Vermont state senate. As a legislator, Hartwell has served on the senate’s committee on natural resources and energy and was instrumental in the passage of the state’s most comprehensive energy legislation in 2008.

Hartwell also co-sponsored a bill that placed Vermont’s groundwater in the public trust and regulated large-scale water withdrawals, such as those by water bottling companies.

He has been an advocate for a national “Green” New Deal that focuses on a new energy ethic modeled after President Roosevelt’s New Deal policies of the 1930s. Hartwell’s Green New Deal would place greater reliance on renewable resources, favor tax incentives to create a national car fleet 50 percent more fuel efficient than at present and support a national passenger rail system based on successful models in Europe.