spea magazine

In memoriam



Lynton Keith Caldwell (1913 - 2006)

In 1972, L.K. Caldwell was the catalyst for the founding of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University, Bloomington.


caldwellLynton Keith Caldwell, 92, one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished scholars in the fields of environmental policy, law, science, and administration, died on Tuesday, August 15, at his home in Bloomington, Indiana. At the time of his death he was Arthur F. Bentley Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

During the 1960s he was virtually a lone voice in his work to establish environmental policy for the environment because such a holistic and interdisciplinary approach to the solving of environmental problems did not then exist. In 1962 his groundbreaking article “Environment: A New Focus for Public Policy?” published in Public Administration Review launched what would develop into a new subfield of public policy studies. In 1972 he was the catalyst for the founding of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) at Indiana University, Bloomington. Although he officially retired in 1984, he continued until 1990 an active program of scholarly research, lecturing, writing, and mentoring students around the world. His last book, The National Environmental Act: An Agenda for the Future, was published in 1988.

Caldwell, always known familiarly as “Keith,” is perhaps best known as a principal architect of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the first act of its kind in the world, signed into law by President Richard Nixon on January 1, 1970. Now often referred to as the “Magna Carta” of environmental law, NEPA has been emulated, in one form or another, by more than one hundred other countries, and many states have also established “mini NEPAs.” Caldwell is also credited as being the “inventor” of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the action-forcing provision of NEPA. The passage of NEPA started off a decade of new congressional activity in the 1970s that resulted in the establishment of, among other important environmental legislation, Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Caldwell earned his undergraduate degree in English at the University of Chicago in 1934, his Master’s degree at Harvard in History and Government in 1938, and his doctorate degree in political science at the University of Chicago in 1943. In 1997, he was awarded an honorary LLD from Western Michigan University.

During his career, Caldwell served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Oklahoma, Syracuse University, and the University of California at Berkeley, and had shorter appointments at some 80 other collegiate institutions both within the U.S. and overseas. His services to the public included the U.S. Senate, UNESCO, the UN, the Departments of Commerce, Energy, Defense, and Interior, and the National Institutes of Health. Although not a scientist by profession, his expertise in political science and environmental affairs led him to work closely with several important scientific bodies including the National Research Council’s National Commission on Materials Policy, the Sea Grant Advisory Board, the Science Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission, the Pacific Science Congress, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

After 1962, he changed the main focus of his career towards protecting the quality of the human environment. The many awards he received in this connection included the William E. Mosher Award (1964), the Marshall E. Dimock Award of the American Society for Public Administration (1981), the John M. Gaus Award from the American Political Science Association and the National Environmental Quality Award from the Natural Resources Council of America (1997). In 1991, he was named one of the United Nations Environmental Program’s (UNEP) Global 500 for distinguished environmental services, and in 2001 he was the recipient of Indiana University’s Distinguished Service Award.

He was also a prodigious writer and author during his lifetime, publishing more than 200 articles and monographs and twelve books with translations in 19 languages. His first book, The Administrative Theories of Hamilton and Jefferson (1944), is in its third reprint. Other books include In Defense of Earth (1972); Science and the National Environmental Policy Act (1982); International Environmental Policy (3rd rev. ed. 1996), Biocracy: Public Policy and the Life Sciences (1987), and Between Two Worlds: Science, the Environmental Movement, and Policy Choice (1990).

Donations can be made to the following: The Lynton K. Caldwell professorship at I.U. Foundation; The Nature Conservancy; The Sycamore Land Trust; or the Bloomington Hospital Home Health and Hospice.

Reprinted by permission from the Bloomington Herald-Times.

Additional information can be found at: http://www.iu.edu/~speaweb/news/caldwell.php.