Environmental Studies Newsletter

A Publication of Macalester’s Environmental Studies Department
September 2013

Letter From the Chair

Dear Friends of Environmental Studies,

Congratulations to the 22 Environmental Studies graduates of 2013, up from 17 in 2012. These students had a wide range of interests indicated by their core emphases. Among these, the most popular areas of study were Environmental Justice, Geology and Geography. This past year we also had students develop new interdisciplinary emphases in Food Systems and Communications.

In other departmental news, Louisa Bradtmiller will return from sabbatical this Fall to teach Climate and Society and The Earth’s Climate System. Christie Manning will offer a first-year seminar called Psychology of the Material World. She will also teach the Environmental Leadership Practicum this Fall. Professor Wells will continue his sabbatical in the Fall, and will return this Spring to teach American Environmental History, the Senior Seminar and Environmental Justice.

Jerald Dosch continues to serve as Director of the Katharine Ordway Natural History Area. Jerald and Ruthanne Kurth-Schai from the Education Studies Department will again teach their popular Outdoor Environmental Education course. Their course takes great advantage of the Ordway facility to host local students on fieldtrips.

Campus Sustainability manager Suzanne Savanick-Hansen will offer a unique 2 credit course called Sustainability and the Campus. We are also lucky to have Marianne Milligan again teach 100 Words for Snow in Spring 2014.

Students got to know Ryan Edgington last year when he taught courses in Environmental History while Chris Wells was on sabbatical. You will be delighted to know that he will be back at Macalester this coming year teaching full-time in the History Department. Ryan will offer his popular course “Food, Environment, and Society in 20th Century America” during Spring semester.

Finally, we welcome two adjunct professors this Fall. Emily Schilling will offer Lakes, Streams and Rivers. David Wagner will teach a new course titled Architecture + Circumstance + Sustainability. David is a practicing architect with the local firm Sala.

Graduating seniors, Ava Buchanan, Shaina Kasper and Brianna Besch were acknowledged by the department for their contributions to the department over their 4 years at Macalester. Shaina and Brianna were awarded the Environmental Studies Scholarship Award. Both completed ambitious honors thesis research last year on global environmental issues. Shaina is currently working for Corporate Accountability Watch in Boston. Brianna is in the Education Department at the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC.  Ava received the Environmental Citizenship award for her service to the department and campus life. Ava is working at the KidWind Project in Saint Paul, as well as continuing as a research assistant on my NSF funded wind energy research.

As we look to the new academic year, the registrar indicates we will be starting the fall 35 majors and 16 minors. We look forward to working with another great group of Macalester students!

I would be remiss if I didn’t whole heartedly thank Ann Esson, our department coordinator, for pulling together our annual newsletter and keeping our corner of the campus running so smoothly.

As I take over the reigns as Chair this year, we all wish Professor Dan Hornbach a restorative sabbatical year. We also congratulate Dan on receiving the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science’s 2013 Janet Anderson Lecture Award.

Roopali Phadke
Chair, Environmental Studies

2014 Environmental Studies Award WinnersEnvironmental Studies Student Award Winners

The 2013 Environmental Studies Student Award winners are:

Environmental Studies Citizenship Award:  Ava Buchanan and Shaina Kasper

Environmental Studies Scholarship Award:  Brianna Besch

Prof. Roopali Phadke Wins Award

Prof. Roopali Phadke was awarded the 2013 Jack and Marty Rossmann Excellence in Teaching Award that recognizes “a faculty member who has been identified by colleagues and students as exemplifying the teaching goals of Macalester College.”  Read more here.

Car Country by Chris WellsProf. Chris Wells’ New Book is Published

In January 2013, Prof. Chris Well’s book Car Country: An Environmental History, was release by the University of Washington Press.

About the book:  The prevalence of car-dependent landscapes seems perfectly natural to us today, but it is, in fact, a relatively new historical development. In Car Country, Wells rejects the idea that the nation’s automotive status quo can be explained as a simple byproduct of an ardent love affair with the automobile. Instead, he takes readers on a lively tour of the evolving American landscape, charting the ways that new transportation policies and land-use practices have combined to reshape nearly every element of the built environment around the easy movement of automobiles.

Check out the book’s website.

2013 Environmental Studies Distinguished Speaker – Bill McKibben

Bill McKibbon EnviroThursday PresentationOn February 21, 2013, over 400 people filled the Weyerhaeuser Chapel to hear the 2013 Enviornmental Studies Distinguished Speaker Bill McKibben speak.  Bill’s presentation was titled “Celebrating and Preserving Winter:  A Call to Action to Slow Climate Change” and focused on the current state of climate science and what it means about the necessary scale and pace of our efforts to do something about global warming.  He talked about the lead role colleges can play now that fossil fuel divestment has become the hottest student movement in several decades.

Bill McKibben,scholar in residence in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Environmental Studies Honors Thesis

This year, three Environmental Studies majors pursued an honors thesis:

  • From Local Actions to Global Solutions: Community-Based Climate Adaptation in Bangladesh” by Brianna Besch
  • Oration of the Feces: Conflicting Discourses of Participatory Post-Development in Community-Led Total Sanitation” by Shaina Kasper
  • “Temporal Analysis of Suspended Sediment Concentration Changes in a Proglacial Meltwater Stream, Linnébreen, Svalbard” by Kayla Nussbaum

Their thesis can be found here.

Senior Graduation Pledge

Graduation PledgeThis year 100 Macalester 2013 graduates signed the Senior Graduation Pledge and wore green ribbons at this year’s commencement ceremonies, thanks to the work of ES seniors Brianna Besch and Emily Engel. The graduation pledge states, “I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider or any organization for which I work.”

This idea first started at Manchester College, Indiana, in 1988. For some students, searching for a job means searching for companies or organizations that do not pollute streams, rivers, or the air; practice discriminatory or unfair business; or create an unfriendly work atmosphere. These students conscientiously go the extra mile in their job searches because they support this nation-wide effort.

Taking the pledge is voluntary; students determine for themselves what they consider to be socially and environmentally responsible.

2013 Senior Seminar Class Senior Seminar 2013 EnviroThursday Presentation


There were 18 EnviroThursday presentations during the 2012-13 school with with over 860 in attendance.

  • “Biodiversity in the Land of (Ever More) Milk and (Possibly Less) Honey” by Ria Brejaart, Academic Director, EcoQuest Education Foundation
  • “Brazil, Higher Education, Rio +20 and Curitiba” by Suzanne Savanick Hansen and Maria Langholz ’14
  • “Carbon Cycling in Prairie Pothole Shallow Lakes” by Leah Domine, Biology Department, University of St. Thomas
  • “Field Notes from the Campaign of a Republican Climate Change Activist” by John Howard
  • “The Long Green Revolution” by Raj Patel, University of California, Berkeley
  • “Future Studies and Anticipatory Governance:  Insights from the Next Generation of Plant Genetic Engineering” by Adam Kokotovich, PhD Candidate, Natural Resources Science and Management Program, University of Minnesota
  • “Working-Class Environmentalism: The International Woodworkers of America and the Pacific Northwest Forest, 1937-1994” by Erik Loomis, University of Rhode Island
  • “Charismatic Data and Antarctic Climate Change” by Jessica O’Reilly, Sociology Department, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University
  • “Regional Differences in Smart Grid Context: Technology and Policy Across Regional Transmission Organizations and States” by Dr. Elizabeth Wilson, Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Policy and Law, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
  • “A Paper Park or a Park in Action?  Simulating Forest Cover Changes of Bannerghatta National Park Based on a CA Markov Model” by Sanchi Adhikar, Macalester Geography Dept.
  • “Celebrating and Preserving Winter:  A Call to Action to Slow Climate Change” by Bill McKibben, Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College (www.billmckibben.com)
  • “Historically Fishless Waters: A Habitat on the Brink?” by Emily Schilling, Environmental Studies Visiting Professor
  • “Macalester’s EcoHouse” by EcoHouse Residents Rachel Karlov, Karina Li, Marian Michaels, Nick Whittredge
  • “The Roots of the Real Christmas Tree:  The Production of Space and Meaning in Twentieth Century America” by Neil Prendergast, Univ. of WI – Stevens Point
  • “Linking Community Structure and Material Transport” by Daniel Allen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Natural Resources & Environment, University of Michigan
  • “Can We Feed a Growing World and Sustain the Global Environment” by Jonathan Foley, Director, Institute on the Environment, University of MN
  • Honors Thesis Presentation – “Temporal Analysis of Suspended Sediment Concentration Changes in a Proglacial Meltwater Stream, Linnébreen, Svalbard” by Kayla Nussbaum ’13
  • Honors Thesis Presentation – “Oration of the Feces: Conflicting Discourses of Participatory Post-Development in Community-Led Total Sanitation” by Shaina Kasper ’13
  • “Mapping Energy Poverty in the Twin Cities” by Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Students

You can read more about these presentations at www.macalester.edu/academics/environmentalstudies/envirothursday and click on the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 links. EnviroThursdays take place every Thursday during the school year in Olin-Rice 250 at 12 noon.

Environmental Studies Faculty News

Prof. Roopali PhadkeProf. Roopali Phadke, Chair

In addition to teaching her regular set of courses in Environmental Politics, this was a busy research year. Roopali continued to work with her stellar wind energy research team (Ava Buchanan ’13, Natalie Camplair ’13, Erica DeJong ’13 and Brianna Besch ’13). As they begin wrapping up they project, they have focused on efforts on publishing a collaborative article that compares their findings across three different case study sites. One new article from this research appeared in the journal Science as Culture this spring. In summer 2013, Roopali launched a new research project with her Environmental Studies colleague Christie Manning. They are collaborating with the City of Saint Paul and the Science Museum of Minnesota to consider how local residents can contribute to climate adaptation planning in Saint Paul. This project has just received funding from the Great Lakes Integrated Science Assessment, a NOAA research center. This summer Akilah Sanders-Reed ’15 and Samantha Burlager ’15 participated in a faculty student research collaboration to publish a climate adaptation guide for local residents titled “Ready and Resilient”.  Lastly, this Fall, she is working with colleagues across the nation to implement a Futurescape City Tour of Saint Paul that brings together a group of local residents to consider how nanotechnology innovations will impact the sustainability of our city.

Prof. Louisa BradtmillerProf. Louisa Bradtmiller

Louisa was on sabbatical during Fall 2012, during which time she completed some lab work and continued to write up the results of several ongoing projects.  In December she brought two students with her to the American Geophysical Union annual Fall Meeting in San Francisco where they presented results from the previous summer.  In the spring semester Louisa taught Paleoclimate and the ES Senior Seminar.  The Paleoclimate group had a great (and chilly) time collecting lake sediment cores in February which they used as the basis for the lab component of the course.  The Senior Seminar collaborated with the Minneapolis non-profit Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy to explore the issue of Energy Poverty in the Twin Cities.  In her research Louisa continues to work on ocean sediment cores in order to explore what changes in sediment chemistry tell us about past climate change.  During summer 2013 she worked with Mike Galgay ’14 to assess both rapid and longer-term changes to the African monsoon system and their relationship to global climate change during those same periods.

Prof. Dan HornbachProf. Dan Hornbach

The past year Dan chaired the ES department and the College’s Resources and Planning Committee (a committee that works with the administration to consider how best to use the College’s resources in a way that will insure the best education for out students.)  He taught Environmental Science in both the Spring and the Fall semesters.  Last year he served as an outside reviewer for two other Environmental Studies programs at small colleges.  Doing this reinforced how great a program we have at Macalester due to our outstanding faculty and the commitment of our students to making a difference in the world.

During the summer of 2013, Dan worked on submitting a paper with Jenny Liu ’13, Diane Rubin ’13 and Forest Schenck ’13 based on work they conducted in the summer of 2012 examining the impacts of a small dam on mussel communities in a tributary of the St. Croix River, the Sunrise River.  He also continued a research project with the  Ecological Research Education Network (EREN) network.  EREN is an NSF funded network with faculty from about 180 primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs).  The network fosters research and educational projects that involve undergraduate students.  The project he is working on examines the impact of riparian vegetation on stream heat budgets at eleven locations across the United States and Canada.  He is working at Valley Creek near Afton, MN at the Belwin Conservancy.  Their group has also submitted an NSF grant to explore the impact of riparian vegetation on stream metabolism.  Keep your fingers crossed that they get funded since this will support two student researchers with him each summer for four years!

Dan will be on sabbatical for the 2013-2014 year.  He is staying in St. Paul and working on publishing the results of 20 years of data collection on mussel populations in the St. Croix River.  This work has involved over 75 Macalester students over the years and been funded by a variety of government agencies including the EPA, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the MN Department of Natural Resources.  Macalester has also provided support for summer students for this work.  Thanks to all of the alums who worked on this project or donated to the College funding the Student-Faculty Summer Research program!

Prof. Chris WelllsProf. Chris Wells

Chris will continue to be on sabbatical during the Fall semester, finishing an edited book on the environmental history of Minnesota. He will be back during the Spring teaching a full slate of classes.


Prof. Jerald DoschProf. Jerald Dosch

Jerald Dosch is starting his 10th year at Macalester this fall with roles in both the Environmental Studies and Biology departments.  In addition to continuing to serve as Director of the Katharine Ordway Natural History Area (Ordway Field Station), he will once again co-teach Outdoor Environmental Education with Ruthanne Kurth-Schai from the Education Studies Department as well as Ecology and Environmental Science.  Jerald spent the summer working with wonderful Macalester students and faculty conducting research and performing management jobs at Ordway.   It was a highly successful and enjoyable summer field season with five faculty and 11 students conducting research in ecology and archaeology.  Be sure to stop by the October poster fair and learn about what they accomplished.

Prof. Christie ManningProf. Christie Manning

Christie is glad to be returning as a full-time Visiting Assistant Professor for the coming academic year 2013-2014.  She’ll have an extremely busy fall – she’s teaching a First Year Course (Psychology in a Material World), the Environmental Leadership Practicum, and Psychology of Sustainable Behavior.  On top of this teaching load, she will also be collaborating with colleagues on a revised edition of one of the main textbooks in her field: The Psychology of Environmental Problems.

Christie’s summer was a nice balance of work and travel.  She spent most of June in Germany visiting family and friends.  In July and August, she and Roopali co-supervised two research projects.  Two of the research students (Sam Burlager ’15 and Akilah Sanders-Reed ’15) created a Climate Change “Primer” for the City of Saint Paul, called Ready and Resilient.  The other two students, Rowena Foo ’16 and Sophie Raynor ’15, worked with Christie to design and run several new empirical research studies investigating people’s psychological distance of climate change.  The research team is writing up the results and making plans for one further study in the fall.  Christie ended the summer with her usual survey extravaganza at the State Fair, collecting around 1,000 environment and climate change attitude surveys from Minnesota fairgoers.

Prof. Marianne MilliganProf. Marianne Milligan

During the 2012-2013 academic year, Marianne taught two classes in the linguistics department and the cross-listed course, 100 Words for Snow: Language and Nature. During the unit on indigenous knowledge in that course, students researched Native American uses of plants and animals found at the Ordway Field Station creating pages on ethnobiology for the Ordwepedia website.