NCTC Conservation Lecture Series: “Stewart Udall and the Politics of Beauty” with filmmaker John de Graaf

On Friday, January 27 at 7:00 PM ET, filmmaker John de Graaf will premier his new film, “Stewart Udall and the Politics of Beauty”.

"Stewart Udall and the Politics of Beauty", a feature documentary for Public Television and beyond, examines the trajectory of Udall’s life from his childhood through his Mormon mission, his World War II service, his student years at the University of Arizona, his time in Congress, and then, most significantly, his years as Secretary of the Interior. The program introduces us to the birth pangs of modern environmental politics, to figures like Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, David Brower, and John Saylor. We see how Udall’s ideas evolved, best illustrated in his conversion from a pro-power dam Arizona representative to the Interior Secretary who dealt the death blow to proposed Grand Canyon dams. We examine his long fight to win compensation for Navajo Indians and “downwinders” who got cancer from their exposure to radiation during the Cold War without being warned of the dangers. And we see the relevance of his concerns—he was the first public official to speak out about global warming, for example—to our current day crises.

In our angry, polarized time, Americans are looking for positive inspiration. The story of Stewart Udall brings audiences such inspiration and more. No American political figure is as relevant to the issues we face today as a nation--learning to work together, achieving racial and environmental justice, improving international relations, enhancing beauty and the arts, alleviating climate change climate change
Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth's climate system and caused change on a global scale.

Learn more about climate change
and moving toward sustainability--as Stewart Udall.

John de Graaf has been producing and directing PBS documentaries for 43 years.  He spent 31 years at KCTS, the Seattle PBS affiliate.  Fifteen of his programs have been broadcast nationally in primetime on PBS, including his 1997 hit special, Affluenza.  He has directed and written many biographies and history programs, including the PBS National Earth Day 1990 SpecialFor Earth’s Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower, which includes an interview with Stewart Udall. His 1992 biography of Japanese American internment resister Gordon Hirabayashi, A Personal Matter, won the highest award for legal reporting from the American Bar Association and inspired the acclaimed play Hold These Truths.  He has won more than 100 regional, national, and international filmmaking awards, and The John de Graaf Environmental Filmmaking Award, named for him, is presented annually at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival in California. 

This talk is part of NCTC’s Conservation Lecture Series, which is co-sponsored by The Friends of the NCTC (

For more information, please contact Mark Madison (304-876-7276)

There will be an online rebroadcast on February 2, 2023, from 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET.

Event date and time
Event location name
Byrd Auditorium, National Conservation Training Center


698 Conservation Way Shepherdstown, 25414 WV
Age range
All ages