May 26, 2015 6:42 PM EDT

Robert Redford didn’t hold back when he gave the commencement speech at Maine’s Colby College on Sunday.

The two-time Academy Award winner warned the class of 2015, “You’re stepping into a world that’s, well, pretty rough. It’s pretty chaotic, pretty divisive. You’ve got climate change, you’ve got debt, you’ve got wars, you’ve got political paralysis. It’s kind of a grim story.”

“But the story, I think, can be retold,” he added, “and I really believe that you’re the ones to do it.”

The iconic actor, filmmaker, environmentalist and political activist called on the 483 Colby College graduates to be fearless in the face of these challenges, and to help foster “collaboration and connection,” not only between people, but between people and the environment, the Associated Press reports.

“Don’t be afraid to take a risk, don’t be afraid of failure, be bold,” he told the crowd.

Redford, 78, whose grandson was among the class of 2015, also received an honorary fine arts degree from the school before an audience of thousands on Sunday.

As a young man, the star attended the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship but dropped out during his sophomore year. He later took classes at Pratt Institute and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

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