David W. Orr was born in Des Moines, Iowa and was raised in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. He holds a B.A. from Westminster College (1965), M.A. from Michigan State University (1966), and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania (1973). He and his wife have two sons. David Orr is currently Professor and Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College.
He is perhaps best known as an environmental educator and for his pioneering work on environmental literacy and campus ecology. His present work is focused on ecological design. During the past three years he spearheaded the effort to design and build a $7 million Environmental Studies Center at Oberlin College.
He was awarded a National Conservation Achievement Award by the National Wildlife Federation in 1993, a Lyndhurst Prize in 1992 awarded by the Lyndhurst Foundation "to recognize the educational, cultural, and charitable activities of particular individuals of exceptional talent, character, and moral vision," the Benton Box Award from Clemson University for his work in Environmental Education (1995), and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Arkansas College in May, 1990. He has been a distinguished scholar in residence at Ball State University (1995) and Westminster College in Salt Lake City (1996).
David Orr is the author of Earth in Mind (1994) and Ecological Literacy (1992) and over 100 published articles. He is also the co-editor of The Campus and Environmental Responsibility with David Eagan (Jossey-Bass, 1992), and The Global Predicament co-edited with Marvin Soroos (University of North Carolina Press, 1979). He is presently working on a book on that project and another on the larger topic of ecological design.
Dr. Orr is the Education Editor for Conservation Biology, a member of the editorial advisory board of Orion Nature Quarterly. He is a Trustee of the Compton Foundation (CA) and the JED Fund and the Educational Foundation of America. He is a member of: the Education Visiting Committee of the New England Aquarium in Boston, the Board of the Center for Ecoliteracy Berkeley, the Center for Respect of Life and Environment in Washington, D.C., Urban Ecology (Berkeley), and the School for Field Studies.