EnviroThursday Spring 2010

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

January 28, 2010

Our Neck of the Woods"Our Neck of the Woods: Exploring Minnesota's Wild Places"
Speaker: Dan Philippon, associate professor of English, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

"Our Neck of the Woods: Exploring Minnesota's Wild Places" is a new book of classic writing from the region's great writers and conservationists--collected for the first time from the beloved "Minnesota Conservation Volunteer" magazine. Join editor Dan Philippon as he discusses the process of assembling the collection, the major themes and subjects it concerns, and the role of the personal essay in conveying environmental values.

Dan Philippon is associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He studies American environmental literature and its relationship to the ideas of nature, culture, and place. He is the author of "Conserving Words: How American Nature Writers Shaped the Environmental Movement" (2004), the editor of "The Friendship of Nature: A New England Chronicle of Birds and Flowers," by Mabel Osgood Wright (1999), and the co-editor of "Coming into Contact: Explorations in Ecocritical Theory and Practice" (2006) and "The Height of Our Mountains: Nature Writing from Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley" (1998). He teaches a range of courses that concern the human dimensions of environmental issues.

February 4, 2010

HECUA “Understanding Global Problems Through Local Experience: How Experiential LearningTeaches Resilience”
Speaker: Dr. Julia Nerbonne, Environmental Sustainability Program Director at HECUA

Dr. Julia Nerbonne will frame some innovative ways to talk about resilience and effective action in the face of incredible systemic challenges. Using examples from her teaching and community based research program, she will illustrate how citizens can be either paralyzed or motivated by the sobering analysis of large scale ecosystem collapse and will explore how critical analysis and immersion in local solutions is a perfect vehicle for student and community engagement. Dr. Nerbonne is the Environmental Sustainability Program at the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA). She also teaches Environmental Ethics and Sustainability Studies at the University of Minnesota.

February 11, 2010 - John B. Davis Lecture Hall, Campus Center

"Urban Growth in China: Environmental Challenges and Opportunities"
Speaker: Karen Seto, Associate Professor of Geography, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University

China is undergoing an urban revolution. The urban population is expected to reach 900 million by 2030—an increase of over half a billion from 2000—and the country’s landscape is being similarly transformed. Traditional agrarian communities and farmland are being metamorphosed by a changed economy and enveloped by extended urban regions. The kinds of urban regions that ultimately emerge in China will have considerable impacts on the country's continued economic development, social and political character, and environmental health and sustainability. Globalization, decentralization, rural to urban migration, and economic restructuring are just some of the drivers that have affected the physical form of urban expansion. This talk will describe the changing urban landscape in two regions, the Pearl River Delta in South China and Chengdu in Sichuan Province, in the context of policy reforms and social changes. In particular, what are the environmental challenges and opportunities associated with urban growth, and what are the potential consequences of an urbanizing China for the country and the world?

Sponsored by: Urban Studies, Geography, Environmental Studies, and the Mellon Curricular Pathways Grant.

February 18, 2010

"Backpacking Through the Brooks Range of Alaska"
Speaker: Laura Hume, Staffing Coordinator for Camp Manito-wish YMCA

Laura Hume will begin with an introduction to Manito-wish and her own personal experiences leading 45-day backpacking trips within the Gates of the Arctic National Park and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She will also talk about the Brooks Range: wildlife, glaciers, Inuit culture, tundra, the Dalton Highway, and defining factors of arctic ecosystems. She will conclude with a reflection upon outdoor education and organizations that enter into this type of isolated and pristine wilderness area.

Laura grew up in St Paul, attended Cretin Derham Hall High School, went to the U of M for college. Upon graduation, she moved to the Western Slope of Colorado to work for a wilderness therapy company. From there she developed her career in wilderness therapy, outdoor education, and rec therapy. This November she moved from Telluride, Colorado, to Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, to work as the Staffing Coordinator for Camp Manito-wish YMCA.

February 25, 2010 - 4:30 p.m. Olin Rice 250

"Europe, Africa, and the Birds Between Them"
Speaker: Nancy Jacobs, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History, Brown University

What are continents and how are they imagined? Africa and Europe exist as separate places because the people who inhabited them have had divergent histories. What about non-human beings on those landmasses? Are they European and African in the same way the human inhabitants are? How as humans do we distinguish between Africa, Europe, and their birds?"

Nancy Jacobs received her B.A. from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She received an M.A. in African Studies from UCLA and a Ph.D. in History from Indiana University. She is currently working on a book project titled Birders of a Feather: Stories of People, Birds, and Other People in Africa.

Sponsored by Environmental Studies, Anthropology, History and African Studies Departments.

March 4, 2010

Macalester EcoHouse"Macalester's EcoHouse"
Speakers: EcoHouse Residents Lauren Ballewske '09 and Erin Crnkovich '11

What is the EcoHouse? Find out about our own Eco-Living/Learning Laboratory. EcoHouse students will talk about the house and their projects.

 

March 11, 2010

"Multi-national Corporations and Environmental Studies Majors"
Speaker: Dan Schibel '96, Manager of Global Health Safety and Environment Initiatives and Sustainability at General Mills

Is there a place for Environmental Studies Majors in multi-national corporations? Where does science and business intersect? Can people have an effect on a large corporate environment? Come hear a former Macalester biology and E.S. major and what role he plays at a large multi-national food company and what opportunities he sees that intersect science and business.

Dan Schibel is the Manager of Global Health Safety and Environment Initiatives and Sustainability at General Mills. In his role, Dan works with corporate leaders to set strategies for the corporation on sustainability issues. He also chairs of the environmental awareness committee, sits on the General Mills Community Action board of directors and on the General Mills Employee Club board of directors. Dan holds a BA from Macalester College with majors in Biology and Environmental Studies, a MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and a teaching certificate from Hamline University. Finally, he is a Scuba instructor and got his start Scuba diving for Dan Hornbach in the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers.

March 18, 2010 - No EnviroThursday - Spring Break

March 25, 2010

"Sustainable Landscapes Perception"
Speaker: Fred Rozumalski, Registered Landscape Architect with Barr Engineering

It's been said that perception is reality - this is certainly the evident when lakeshore property owners perceive native plant communities to be unattractive and messy, or when a severely degraded narrowleaf cattail monoculture wetlands are seen as pristine and beautiful. Native plant communities set within residential or public landscapes are often destroyed because they do not meet people's aesthetic of neatness.

We are conditioned to identify property owners of neat and tidy landscapes as good people who care about their property and the community. In our culture landscape neatness reflects directly on the integrity of the property owner. But these very practices of creating landscape neatness - mowing, fertilizing, applying pesticides and watering - often result in the degradation of the very property for which the owner is (unconsciously) trying to portray good stewardship.

By incorporating the aesthetic of neatness into lakeshore restorations, designers and restorationists enable property owners to take pride in the creation of diverse, ecologically sound landscapes while preserving the perception of personal integrity and good stewardship. Incorporating 'cues to care' such as clean, mown edges, blooming ildflowers, attractive fences and high quality materials into lakeshore landscapes provides a level of neatness to satisfy our neatness aesthetic and preserve the native landscape.

Fred Rozumalski has co-authored a book on Landscaping for Wildlife and Water Quality. He is a member of the Board for the Minnesota Project, an organization that focuses on the sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food across Minnesota.

April 1, 2010 - No EnviroThursday

April 8, 2010

"Migration, Ear Bones, and Isotopes: Reconstructing Migration Strategies in Juvenile Salmon Using Otolith Microchemistry and Bedrock Geology"
Speaker: Jens Hegg '00, Masters student at University of Idaho

Wouldn't it be nice if fish had flight data recorders? The population of Fall Chinook salmon in the Snake River of Idaho has recently begun to exhibit two different strategies for migrating to the ocean. Historically fish followed only one migration strategy. What is causing the change and what is the selective advantage of this migration strategy for individual fish? Existing tagging technologies don’t work to answer these questions. Luckily, fish otoliths act as a high resolution record of both growth and movement. Using geochemical signatures deposited in otoliths we are reconstructing juvenile migration strategies of these salmon to help understand the reasons for the recent population changes. Since these signatures originate in weathering rock we are extending the technique using GIS to make predictions of water chemistry directly from bedrock geology.

Jens Hegg '00 is a second year masters student at University of Idaho in the Integrative Fish Ecology and Ecosystem Studies lab. Previously Jens worked in various positions related to aquatic ecology, bio-plastics R&D and medical device engineering.

April 15, 2010

"Integrated Sustainable Design: Overview of the Fine Arts Building Project"
Speaker: Fine Arts Project Design Team Members

Macalester College is currently developing plans for a $39 million renovation and new construction upgrades to the Music and Commons buildings of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center. The project will begin as early as January 2011, depending on fund raising and would be completed by the fall of 2012. The construction, 56,500 square feet of new construction and 95,500 square feet of renovation, will “accommodate greater student participation as well as new audiences” and advance “broad and deep” fine arts programs. The construction is also an opportunity to continue Macalester’s green building practices. This building will use the Minnesota B3 green building guidelines. An energy analysis has already been completed and other sustainability initiatives include energy efficiency and landscape design for stormwater/runoff reduction. Hear from our architects and engineers about the sustainability plans for this major building project

April 22, 2010

Honors Thesis Presentations

"Straws in the Wind: Race, Nature, and Technoscience in Postcolonial South Dakotan Wind Power Development" by Kai Bosworth

How is wind power dynamically imbued with meanings, language, and images that seek to unevenly position the technology in relation to groups of humans, natures, and geographies? How are boundaries constructed and challenged through the production of knowledge, technology, and nature? This paper seeks to unpack the conditions of possibility that govern wind power on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in western South Dakota. By examining the circulation of discourses and texts, I argue that narratives that position indigenous people within discourses of environmentalism are reproduced in wind power discourse, overshadowing complex networks of power, colonialism, race, nature, science and technology.

"Undue Burden: A Feminist Analysis of the Discursive and Material Realities of Breast Cancer and Obesity in the United States" by Hannah Rivenburgh

This paper considers the material and semiotic realities in the lives of those whose bodies deviate from the female norms of thinness and symmetricality. I argue that the discursive formations of both obesity and breast cancer are a biopolitical practice, producing particular bodies as excessive, ill, or deficient in juxtaposition to normative notions of the moral citizen/consumer. This entanglement of therapy and surveillance, for example, forecloses possibilities to live other lives. However, spaces of resistance open for and are opened by those struggling for legible ways of living with breast cancer and fat.

"Modeling Mussels: The Importance of Hydraulic and Dispersal Variables for Unionid Abundance & Diversity" by Cara Weggler

Freshwater mussels (Unionoida) are among the most imperiled organisms in North America and as filter-feeders are important for maintaining the quality of freshwater ecosystems. To maintain biodiversity, it is important to understand unionid population and habitat characteristics. This study investigated habitat and biogeographic variables associated with mussel distributions. Trends in the data indicated that higher mussel densities were associated with areas of low shear stress, and coarse substrate. Also, mussel density and richness declined from downstream to upstream beds. Both biogeographic and habitat factors were indicated as significant but more research is needed to confirm these trends.

April 29, 2010

"Moving Towards a Zero-Waste Macalester"
Speakers: Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Students

This spring the ES Senior Seminar tackled the problem of waste on campus in the context of Macalester's goal to become "Zero-Waste" by 2020. In this talk students will present highlights from four group projects about composting programs on campus, a program to encourage sustainability for students living off-campus, improving recycling at Macalester and examining the life cycle of commonly used products on campus. The groups will provide background information, the results of research and program development, and recommendations for continuation and improvement of these projects in the future.