Announcement: Dr. Jeff Wilson (“Professor Dumpster”) to deliver lecture Friday, Sept. 26

Photo by Sarah Natsumi Moore

Photo by Sarah Natsumi Moore

Please join the Department of American Studies for a talk by Dr. Jeff Wilson, also known as Professor Dumpster, who has garnered widespread publicity in the past few weeks for an ongoing project – The Dumpster Project – for which he has been living in a 36-square foot dumpster. For “The Ultimate Conversation Box: A Dumpster,” Dr. Wilson will be describing how he links his academic research, teaching, and community activism with issues of sustainability as well as with his role as a dean at Huston-Tillotson University. Wilson will also give a “tour” of his dumpster/home.

Here’s what a recent piece in The Atlantic had to say about him:

Professor Wilson went to the dumpster not just because he wished to live deliberately, and not just to teach his students about the environmental impacts of day-to-day life, and not just to gradually transform the dumpster into “the most thoughtfully-designed, tiniest home ever constructed.” Wilson’s reasons are a tapestry of these things.


Not long ago, Wilson was nesting in a 2,500 square foot house. After going through a divorce (“nothing related to the dumpster,” he told me, unsolicited), he spun into the archetypal downsizing of a newly minted bachelor. He moved into a 500-square-foot apartment. Then he began selling clothes and furniture on Facebook for almost nothing. Now he says almost everything he owns is in his 36-square-foot dumpster, which is sanctioned and supported by the university as part of an ongoing sustainability-focused experiment called The Dumpster Project. “We could end up with a house under $10,000 that could be placed anywhere in the world,” Wilson said at the launch, “[fueled by] sunlight and surface water, and people could have a pretty good life.”


For Professor Dumpster, the undertaking is at once grand and diminutive, selfless and introspective, silly and gravely important, even dark. “We bring everything into the home these days,” Wilson said. “You don’t really need to leave the home for anything, even grocery shopping, anymore. What’s interesting about this is it’s really testing the limits of what you need in a home.”

“The big hypothesis we’re trying to test here is, can you have a pretty darn good life on much, much less?” He paused. “This is obviously an outlier experiment. But so far, I have, I’d say. A better life than I had before.”

The talk will take place Friday, September 26 at 4:30 in Huston-Tillotson University’s AL Auditorium at 900 Chicon Street.

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of American Studies, the Graduate Program in Community and Regional Planning, and Plan II Honors. We hope to see you there.

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