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

September 11, 2008

“The Real Roots of the Global Food Crisis”
Speaker: Jim Harkness, President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

When grain prices reached historic highs earlier this year and food riots broke out in dozens of countries, governments and experts were quick to point fingers. How did this happen? Was it biofuels, protectionism, or those Chinese and Indians, with their growing taste for meat? Jim Harkness explains where the crisis came from and gives his thoughts on where our food system is going.

Jim Harkness is President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a Minnesota-based non-profit that works to promote fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. He lived for 16 years in China, where he worked as a Ford Foundation program officer, wildlife researcher, university instructor and Country Director for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

September 18, 2008

“The Mississippi River’s National Park” Speaker: Tom Ibsen, Park Ranger and Volunteers-In-Parks Manager for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area

Did you know there was a National Park less than 2 miles from Macalester? In 1988, U.S. Congress designated 72 miles of the Mississippi River through the Twin Cities as the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. This is the only National Park area dedicated completely to the Mississippi River. Why do we create National Parks? Talk about the philosophy of urban national parks as we learn about some of the features that helped earn this stretch of river this national designation. What role do urban natural areas and historic sites play in our community? Discuss opportunities for involvement in the National Park through internships and volunteer positions. Participants will be invited on a walking tour of the Macalester Prairie following the indoor presentation.

Tom Ibsen graduated from Mac in 1993 after majoring in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. Tom has been a Park Ranger for the National Park Service since 1997 and sees National Parks as a unique place where people and the environment come together. Tom operates a small business called GrassRoots Restoration LLC which specializes in incorporating native plants in traditionally urban landscapes. He is the guiding force behind the Macalester Prairie south of Olin-Rice and is now also caring for the student-designed green roof and rain garden projects.

September 25, 2008 – No EnviroThursday

October 2, 2008

“Views on the Urban River: A 19th-Century Photographer Looks at the Upper Mississippi”
Speaker: Mark Neuzil, Department of Communication and Journalism, St. Thomas

German immigrant Henry P. Bosse was a draftsman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Paul and Rock Island, Ill., in the late 19th century. In his work mapping the river, he took photographs of cities large and small as they struggled to survive along the country’s mightiest river. Mark Neuzil will look at Bosse’s images of the urban river and what they might mean, then and now.

Mark Neuzil is a professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at the University of St. Thomas where he is also the Director of the Office for Mission. Neuzil is a 1993 Ph.D. graduate of the University of Minnesota. He is the author or co-author five books, including his latest, “The Environment and the Press: From Adventure Writing to Advocacy,” published in July by Northwestern University Press. His 2001 book, Views on the Mississippi: The Photographs of Henry Peter Bosse, published by the University of Minnesota Press, won the Minnesota Book Award for History/Biography. Neuzil writes a weekly environmental column for and is a frequent contributor to a variety of media in the Twin Cities as well as nationally.

October 9, 2008

“Enemy in the Blood: Malaria, Nationalism, and Development in Argentina”
Speaker: Eric Carter, Assistant Professor of Geography, Dept. of Anthropology, Grinnell College

Eric Carter’s will examine the discovery, control, and eradication of malaria in Argentina, from 1890 to 1950. Readers who associate malaria with the tropics may be surprised to learn that this mostly temperate country with noted European influences once suffered the scourge of malaria. Yet the disease was once endemic to the country’s subtropical northwestern region, in a typical year afflicting hundreds of thousands of people. His central argument is that malaria control was driven by a larger project of constructing a modern identity for Argentina. Insofar as development meant building a more productive, rational, orderly, hygienic, and healthy society, the persistence of a “tropical” disease such as malaria prevented Argentina from joining the ranks of “modern nations.” Development models, which hinged upon a sometimes muddled understanding of the relationship among disease, society, and the environment, had a direct influence on malaria control “on-the-ground” — with surprising consequences.

This talk is supported by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and the Geography and Environmental Studies Departments.

October 16, 2008 – No EnviroThursday – Fall Break

October 23, 2008

“The Aesthetics of the River: View from the Shore”
Panel Speakers: Christine Baeumler, Anna Metcalfe and Mona Smith

Christine Baeumler will discuss the community-based ecological remediation efforts to create the East Side Rain Garden and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary in St. Paul. Christie received her B.A. from Yale University, and her M.F.A. from Indiana University in Bloomington. Christine is an assistant professor in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Anna Metcalfe will focus on the idea of community, and talk about what, exactly, a “river community” might consist of, what its goals might be, and how art can play a role in the formation of that community. Anna earned a B.A. in English Literature from the College of William and Mary. She is currently a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, focusing on ceramics as her primary medium.

Mona Smith (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate) will talk about using immersive media art and the lens of ‘place’ to enable the present citizens of this place (broadly defined) to experience the upper Mississippi River area as a Dakota place. The site of the metro area is Mdewakanton Dakota homeland. Recognizing the history of the Dakota here can be the beginning of healing the land and the people. Mona is a producer with 25 years of experience in telling powerful stories through contemporary media. As owner of Allies: media/art, Mona has created dozens of video and web-based presentations on Native identity and well-being.

October 30, 2008

“Animals, Saints, and Wilderness in the Middle Ages”
Speaker: Ellen Arnold, Macalester History Department

Medieval environmental history draws on many of the same ideas about ties between nature and culture as modern environmental history. Ellen will talk about how medievalists can do this by using examples from monasteries in the medieval Ardennes (modern Belgium). Specifically, the talk will explore how monks used stories about animals to interpret their relationship with nature. By using miracle stories and discussions of “saintly” behavior, the monks were able to set themselves and their ideas of resource and wilderness apart from the everyday world of medieval politics.

Ellen Arnold is in her second year as a visiting assistant professor here at Macalester. She’s been teaching classes in world history, medieval Europe, and environmental history. She was trained as a medieval historian at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests are in understanding how medieval people understood and interacted with the natural world, and how medieval religious culture was connected to practical, everyday experiences as well as to spirituality. She is working on a book titled Negotiating Landscape, Environment, and Monastic Identity in the Medieval Ardennes.

November 6, 2008

“Viewscapes as Historic Resources”
Speakers: Pat Nunnally, Univ. of MN, and John Anfinson, Mississippi National River & Recreation Area

Pat Nunnally will describe historical patterns of visual representation of the Upper Mississippi River. He’ll talk a little about the phenomenon of “panorama” paintings but spend most of my time on the concept of the “picturesque,” which really has shaped the way we look at nature and what we think of as having “scenic value.” John Anfinson will then follow with a discussion of NPS efforts to have the cultural landscape of the river valley in downtown St. Paul understood as significant historical resources, an effort which dovetails with the concepts of the “picturesque.”

Pat Nunnally directs the Telling River Stories Collaborative and coordinates the River Life Program at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. John Anfinson is Historian and Cultural Resources Specialist, for the National Park Service, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Previously he was District Historian for the St. Paul District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

November 13, 2008

“The Leap Forward for Conservation”
Speaker: Deborah Karasov, Executive Director, Great River Greening

While environmental legislation continues to be important, government regulation alone won’t make the next leap forward for conservation. For one thing, it’s not great at inspiring people to do the right things. Great River Greening was built on the premise that armed with the right information and opportunities, individuals can make a real difference.

November 20, 2008

“Gold! Gold!! Gold!!! Mining and Environmental Change in the 19th Century Colorado Front Range”
Speaker: George Vrtis, Asst. Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Carleton College

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the search for precious metals unleashed a breathtaking pace of change that touched nearly every aspect of life in the American West. Almost overnight, the California, Colorado and other western gold rushes drew tens of thousands of hopeful goldseekers across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains – as well as across the Sonoran Desert and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Wherever these emigrants halted, the world around them quickly began to change. Precious-metal strikes brought “instant cities,” as the historian Gunther Barth has so aptly called them. But those cities were only the beginning. Many developments – from mining to farming, ranching, and industry – recast the West’s diverse ecological communities in important and often fundamental ways that continue to shape life in the region today. This talk will explore these changes within the context of the Colorado Front Range. The Colorado experience offers a good example of the enormous environmental changes unleashed by western mining booms, and the ways in which mining and mining-related developments tied the West’s social, cultural and environmental phenomena into an ever tighter cultural knot.

November 27, 2008 – No EnviroThursday – Thanksgiving

December 4, 2008

“Freshwater Mussel Assemblages and Species Distribution in the Upper St. Croix River and its Wisconsin Tributaries”
Speakers: Tyler Myers, Jessica Moyer, Connar Goetz, Ben Cole, Aimee Van Tatenhove, Jonathan DeRocker, Lindsey Fallstrom, and Megan Finch, Grantsburg High School Advanced Research Biology Students

From 2002-2008, students at Grantsburg High School have conducted over 150 qualitative and 10 quantitative unionid mussel surveys on fourteen tributary rivers and creeks of the St. Croix River as well as the St. Croix proper. Their research has sought to map species distribution throughout the watershed, identify areas of high mussel density and diversity, look for evidence that dams are excluding fish hosts and thus limiting mussel reproduction, and work with partnering organizations to develop management strategies that will facilitate the conservation, preservation and restoration of the St. Croix River’s natural heritage. Their talk will focus on this past summer’s research above and below the Gordon Dam – the official beginning of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. During this time, they conducted two intensive surveys at high density sites to look for significant differences in mussel density, recruitment and substrate composition above and below the dam. They also qualitatively surveyed 20 additional sites to determine species distribution above and below the dam. In summer 2009, they will survey an additional 40-50 sites above and below the dam the firm up distributions of rare species. A final report will be presented to the Friends of the St. Croix Headwaters Association, Macalester College, the National Park Service, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Army Corps of Engineers in fall 2009. We wish to thank the Friends of the St. Croix Headwaters Association and Macalester College’s Mellon Grant for sponsoring our project.

Grantsburg High School Advanced Research Biology class is taught by Matt Berg. Matt has been teaching high school biology for 13 years, the past nine of which have been at Grantsburg High School. In addition to freshwater mussels, he and his students have done citizen science research projects dealing with dragonflies, bats, songbird habitat selection, native plant distribution and aquatic exotic species control. He has a BS and MS in Biology from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. In addition to teaching, he is the lead biologist for Endangered Resource Services, LLC, a biological consulting company based in St. Croix Falls Wisconsin. Matt’s research interests include breeding bird community response to habitat modification, aquatic plant ecology, freshwater mussel reproduction and distribution, and dragonfly microhabitat selection.