Caldwell, Lynton Keith (1913 – ) American Scholar and Environmentalist

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Lynton Keith Caldwell (1913 )
American scholar and environmentalist

Lynton Caldwell has been a key figure in the development of environmental policy in the United States. A longtime advocate for adding an environmental amendment to the Constitution, Caldwell has insisted that the federal government has a duty to protect the environment that is akin to the defense of civil rights or freedom of speech.

Caldwell was born November 21, 1913 in Montezuma, Iowa. He received his bachelor of arts from the University of Chicago in 1935 and completed a master of arts at Harvard University in 1938. The same year, Caldwell accepted an assistant professorship in government at Indiana University in Bloomington. In 1943, he attained his doctorate from the University of Chicago and began publishing academic works the following year. The subjects of his early writings were not environmental; he published a study of administrative theory in 1944 and a study of New York state government in 1954. By 1964, however, Caldwell had shifted his emphasis, and he began to receive wide recognition for his work on environmental policy. In that year, he was presented with the William E. Mosher Award from the American Society for Public Administration for his article "Environment: A New Focus for Public Policy."

Caldwell's most important accomplishment was his prominent role in the drafting of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in 1969. As a consultant for the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in 1968, he prepared A Draft Resolution on a National Policy for the Environment. His special report examined the constitutional basis for a national environmental policy and proposed a statement of intent and purpose for Congress. Many of the concepts first introduced in this draft resolution were later incorporated into the act. As consultant to that committee, Caldwell played a continuing role in the shaping of the NEPA, and he was involved in the development of the environmental impact statement .

In past years Caldwell has strongly defended the NEPA, as well as the regulatory agency it created, claiming that they represent "the first comprehensive commitment of any modern state toward the responsible custody of its environment." Although the act has influenced policy decisions at every level of government, the enforcement of its provisions have been limited. Caldwell argues that this is because environmental regulations have no clear grounding in the law. Statutes alone are often unable to withstand the pressure of economic interests. He has proposed an amendment to the Constitution as the best practical solution to this problem and he maintains that without such an amendment, environmental issues will continue to be marginalized in the political arena.

In addition to advising the Senate during the creation of the NEPA, Caldwell has done extensive work on international environmental policy. He has advised the Central Treaty Organization and served on special assignments in countries including Colombia, India, the Philippines, and Thailand. Currently, Caldwell serves as the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science emeritus and professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

[Douglas Smith ]



Metzger, L., ed. "Caldwell, Lynton." In Contemporary Authors New Revision Series. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984.


Caldwell, L. K. "20 Years with NEPA Indicate the Need." Environment 31 (December 1989): 611, 2528.

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Caldwell, Lynton Keith (1913 – ) American Scholar and Environmentalist

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Caldwell, Lynton Keith (1913 – ) American Scholar and Environmentalist