EnviroThursday Fall 2011

Presentations take place at 12 noon, Olin-Rice Room 250

September 29, 2011

"Are Parks Working? A Case Study of Bannerghatta National Park in India"
Speaker: Sanchayeeta Adhikari, Berg Postdoctoral Fellow, Macalester Geography Dept.

The focus of this talk is forest cover dynamics in protected areas of India. It is a “good news story about vegetation recovery inside a protected area of a tropical country” unlike earlier studies which focused on deforestation trends of tropics. The talk will focus on a small case study of a national park in India which is one of the oldest habitats of Asiatic elephants and is situated outside one of the fastest growing cities of India – Bangalore. The park’s location gives rise to various people-park conflicts which are relevant for biodiversity conservation and will be discussed in the talk.

October 6, 2011

"Investigating the Natural Occurrence of Arsenic in Groundwater: Where is It? How Did it Get There? Is My Well Water Safe to Drink?"
Speaker: Dr. Beth O'Shea, University of San Diego

Did you know that approximately 23% of all fresh water used in the United States comes from groundwater? How much of that groundwater are we drinking? Is it the same as bottled spring water? Which one is best to drink?

It is likely that you have asked yourself some of these questions. The good news is, generally bottled water and tap water have been tested for signs of anthropogenic contamination. Many people don’t know that sometimes groundwater and spring water can contain elevated levels of elements that are present naturally in rocks. One of these elements is arsenic and research shows that it may be globally widespread in groundwater. Currently, much of the arsenic geochemical research focuses on predicting the location of groundwater systems that may contain unsafe arsenic concentrations. Regional and global scale statistical models use a combination of mineralogy, geomorphology, and groundwater chemistry to identify aquifers where populations are potentially at risk of elevated arsenic exposure. However, these models can be improved by also considering the geochemical reaction between groundwater and two common aquifer minerals, which have recently been discovered to contain arsenic. The identification of these new arsenic source minerals suggests a previously overlooked release mechanism into groundwater, and could help explain the complicated geochemical patterns observed in naturally elevated arsenic aquifers around the world. For the first time, data supporting these new arsenic mineral sources will be presented, and the implications for arsenic cycling in the environment will be discussed in the context of current and future research needs.

October 13, 2011

"Master of Landscape Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis"
Speaker: Natalie Yates, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at Washington University in St. Louis

The MLA program focuses on the subjects of design, ecology, and urbanism, using St. Louis as a laboratory for understanding and testing theories at the local and regional scales.

Natalie Yates' scholarly work revolves around the intersections between transitional environments, evolving technology, and adaptable human experience. Her research focuses on blending traditional and cutting-edge representation techniques, developing new methods for geographic information systems (GIS) at the site scale, and the use and implications of sensory devices and pervasive technology on perceived spaces. Prior to joining the faculty at Washington University, Natalie was a research fellow in the Coastal Sustainability Studio at Louisiana State University. She has published research at the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) national conference and is currently co-authoring a book on environment modeling for landscape architecture.

October 20, 2011

"Trends and Sustainable Building Practices in Europe"
Speakers: Rene Sigg, Managing Partner, Intep, Zurich, Switzerland, and Mark Dickinson, Director of Macalester Facilities Services

Sustainable building practices begin in the very early stages of planning and design. In Europe there are interesting trends in how these activities are integrated into the design and how it leads to successful, cutting edge projects.

René Sigg is a principal at Intep, a consulting firm with offices in Germany, Switzerland and the U.S., reflecting 20 years of facility management consulting and sustainable design experience. René has consulted in Europe and the U.S. for large companies and organizations in the industrial, finance, health care and public sector fields. He received his mechanical engineer degree at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and his environmental science degree from the University of Zurich.

Mark Dickinson has been Director of Facilities Services here at Macalester for over 25 years and participated in over $200 million in construction projects on campus. Mark and his staff have helped formulate Macalester's sustainable project standards and have accomplished numerous energy saving projects that have resulted in significant energy savings and trends of reduced energy consumption per square foot in campus buildings.

October 27, 2011 - No EnviroThursday - Fall Break

November 3, 2011

"Resource Challenges Facing a Sovereign Nation of Lake Superior"
Speaker: Cyrus Hester, Environmental Specialist, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

For resource-dependent communities seeking to maintain generations-old traditional practices, the 21st century may prove an unprecedented challenge. As an example, a subset of the natural resource challenges facing the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are highlighted. Demands from global markets have inspired renewed interest in local mineral resources; minerals which lie at the headwaters of the Bad River. Tribal natural resource staff and community members struggle to identify what this development may mean for sensitive eco-cultural resources. Geopolitical, socio-cultural, environmental, economic, and health issues all intertwine in this place-based discussion on the resource future of an indigenous people.

November 10, 2011

"Ecopreneuring: A Story of Turning a Passion into a Livelihood"
Speaker: Krista Leraas, Co-owner of Harvest Moon Backyard Farmers

Krista Leraas is co-owner of Harvest Moon Backyard Farmers where she designs and maintains sustainable food landscapes. She is also adjunct faculty in the Sustainable Design Program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. For over a decade, she has dedicated her work to the emerging field of sustainability, including organic farming, nonprofit programming and even co-writing and performing a puppet play about sustainable agriculture. Krista co-founded the Living Green Expo, an annual sustainable resource event held in St. Paul, and Backyard Harvest, a nonprofit backyard farming and permaculture program. She holds a graduate degree in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community from New College of California and is a Certified Permaculture Designer.

November 17, 2011

"Ideals to Action: Environmental Values and College Culture"
Speaker: Jim Farrell, Professor of History, American Studies, Environmental Studies and American Conversations, St. Olaf College

Jim Farrell’s The Nature of College: How a New Understanding of Campus Culture Can Change the World explores the intersections of college culture, consumer culture and the environment. In this presentation Jim focuses on environmental values and college culture, looking at the values that college students bring with them to college, and at what they do with those values on campus. He also considers how students might use their environmental values to create more sustainable (and enjoyable) campus cultures.

As an interdisciplinary scholar and teacher, Jim Farrell's teaching has been weird, if not innovative, including courses on Environmental History, the Mall of America, Nuclear Weapons and American Culture, Walt Disney’s America, Consuming College Culture, and Campus Ecology. Jim was chosen as St. Olaf’s first Boldt Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities, proving that Norwegians have a rich and refined sense of humor. Jim holds a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola University in Chicago (1971), and both an M.A. in History (1972) and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Illinois (1980). His books include Inventing the American Way of Death 1830-1920 (Temple University Press, 1980), The Nuclear Devil's Dictionary (Usonia Press, 1985), The Spirit of the Sixties: Making Postwar Radicalism (Routledge, 1997); and One Nation Under Goods: Malls and the Seductions of American Shopping (Smithsonian, 2003). His new book, The Nature of College: How A New Understanding of Campus Life Can Change the World was published in 2010.