The 2015 issue of The Ecotone has arrived! The Ecotone is the journal of the Environmental Studies Program and is created by graduate students at the University of Oregon. It provides a venue for communication and exchange within and beyond the Environmental Studies Program among undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff, and alumni, and facilitates cross-campus dialogue between disciplines and departments.
The 2015 Journal of Environmental Studies is on its way! In the mean-time, check out the 2014 issue here.
The Environmental Studies Program is pleased to announce that no less than three of our core faculty received awards in the UO’s inaugural Sustainability Awards Program, sponsored by the Office of Sustainability.
Peg Boulay and Katie Lynch received the Excellence In Teaching Award for their work in the Environmental Leadership Program. This award recognizes faculty members who have developed a curriculum that emphasizes the principles and advancement of sustainability practices. The award honors a person (or people) whose teaching creatively incorporates principles of sustainability or inspires students to participate in sustainability projects on and off campus, or both. Congratulations Peg and Katie!
Ronald Mitchell received the Research Innovation Award for his International Environmental Agreements Database project. This award is given to a University of Oregon project or Oregon company distributing or commercializing products or services developed from UO research that improve sustainability. Congratulations Ron!
Mark Carey, Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies and Associate Dean of the Robert D. Clark Honors College is the recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award presented by the Division of Undergraduate Studies and All Campus Advising. Please join the Environmental Studies Program in congratulating Mark.
Learn more about Mark Carey here.
Join us for the 2nd annual Environmental Connect!
This unique networking event is a collaboration between theEnvironmental Studies Program and the Career Center, during which you’ll be able to talk in a business-casual setting with professionals in the environmental field, some of whom may be hiring for jobs and internships. Whether you’re a freshman, senior, or graduate student, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet new people and start building your professional network!
Date/Time: May 7, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Location: EMU Ballroom
Please RSVP at the following link: https://oregon.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_eLHRU6r1NizE1jT.
The Environmental Studies Program is very excited to announce that our own faculty member, Katie Lynch, has been invited to join the Oregon Environmental Literacy Program Council. Lynch is currently the co-director of the Environmental Leadership Program, Environmental Education Instructor, and undergraduate advisor to Environmental Studies students. The mission of the Council is to facilitate the implementation of the Environmental Literacy Plan by “creating thoughtful connections with the natural world through education and engagement.” The Council will be responsible for encouraging educational agencies and public schools to participate in environmental education programs. The plan operates in tandem with the “No Oregon Child Left Inside Act,” a bill signed into law in 2009 that encourages students from kindergarten to college to have hands-on learning experiences in Oregon biomes.
Lynch works to support these goals not only through her work on the Council, but also through the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) here at UO. “This spring ,” Lynch says, “we have two environmental education teams out in the community, leading children on field trips designed to restore their connections to place.”
The Restoring Connections ELP project “is a new place-based, experiential environmental education project in which we are working with a cohort of elementary school children as they move from kinder to fifth grade.” School children in the program will have the opportunity to learn hands-on about ecological processes by planting and raising native plants—and as the program continues into the future, the same group of students will see the difference their efforts make over time.
“By returning each year,” Lynch says, “the children will gain an understanding of local natural history that cannot be gained through a single visit alone.” This unique approach will help cultivate stewardship skills and a sense of personal responsibility for the natural world. The results of these programs are, of course, two-fold, as they not only provide high quality environmental education to local youth, but also provide college students with direct experience in curriculum development and implementation.
Katie Lynch has worked at the UO since 2005. Previously, as an environmental anthropologist, Lynch has worked in Peru, Ecuador, Indonesia and the United States examining issues of community-based natural resource management. This has included examining the role of medicinal plants in Amazonian conservation efforts and the potential for hands-on environmental education that promotes conservation. Before joining the UO she was a researcher at the Institute for Culture and Ecology, where her research focused on the relationships between forest policy and management, conservation of forest biodiversity and non-timber forest products. She has also facilitated various courses and workshops that examine the nexus between environmental and cultural issues.
Please join us in congratulating Katie on her latest step in promoting environmental literacy in Oregon!
Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.
Haven’t had a chance to check out the ENVS Program’s ELP photography exhibit? The images are now on display at the UO Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Led by ELP Co-Director, Peg Boulay, the project aimed to tackle the complex relationships between humans and nature as seen through restoration projects. In Boulay’s words, “with the ‘Restoregon’ project, we shifted our lenses to the questions of how and why people restore nature, how nature restores people and how to restore a deep connection between people and planet.”
See the full writeup at AROUNDtheO.
Morgan E. Peach is a recent graduate of the University of Oregon Environmental Studies Master’s Program. While at the UO, his research was primarily concerned with the relationships between soil systems and the built environment and their carbon sequestration potential.
Of his work, Peach stresses that “ecological and biogeochemical dynamics are [constantly] at work…in our everyday environment. Nature is ‘in here,’ in the city or the home, not just ‘out there.’” The disproportionate effect humans have on their environments can be harnessed “through design informed by environmental science” by allowing us to “choose the degree to which our towns, cities, and managed landscapes may function as regenerative, remediating” parts of our environment. These interests are what originally drew Peach to the ENVS graduate program, as it allowed him opportunities to explore concepts in biology as well as landscape architecture.
Upon graduation he joined the Sterling College faculty in Vermont as a biology instructor, and the Red House INC., Fine Homebuilding and Historic Restoration team as a woodworker. Of his career choices he says, “as a carpenter I shape wood into useful forms; as a professor in the Sterling Biology classroom, I discuss the structure, function, and ecology of wood, all of which leads to its prominent place in building systems. There is a fulfilling correspondence between [the two].”
The UO ENVS program has particularly empowered him as a teacher, by providing unique teaching opportunities (namely the ENVS 411 program). The ability to work alongside the “many talented and passionate educators” within ENVS, he says, has given him a plethora of “pedagogical tips and tricks” that he continues to use in the classroom. He has also been inspired by the hands-on educational opportunities offered by the ENVS Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) and Classroom Community Connections (CCC), and regularly seeks to get his students outside of the classroom so they can draw connections between course content and their environment.
This summer Peach will be continuing his own interdisciplinary education at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as an Earth, Ecosystem, and Ecological Science PhD student. Peach firmly believes in the benefits of the interdisciplinary education offered by the UO ENVS program, as it helps him “connect seemingly disparate dots, and in doing so draw closer to the imaginative, innovative solutions required in the face of unprecedented environmental and social challenges confronting the 21st-century human community.”
“I feel inside that something is going to have to change, that something is changing,” says Beau Hansen, resident of Gold Beach, Oregon, in a film to be premiered at this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon.
On Saturday, March 7, from 2:15-3:30 p.m., residents of Cedar Valley, Oregon will join Lisa Arkin, Director of Eugene nonprofit Beyond Toxics, and University of Oregon Environmental Studies students to premier a short film about pesticide drift in a panel entitled “Just Stories: Communicating Environmental Justice.” The panel will be held in the Erb Memorial Union Oak room at the University of Oregon.
In October 2013, a helicopter spraying pesticides on private timberlands made multiple trips over a stretch of homes in Cedar Valley. Aerial spray fell on many residents directly as well as on several tributaries of the Rogue River and lands abutting the local school. In the days following, residents began reporting negative health effects. Over 45 people have come forward.
To create the film, Environmental Studies students traveled to Cedar Valley with Arkin to interview residents about their experiences and their vision for change. The film documents the aerial spray incident as well as the community’s efforts to organize locally and call for statewide community health protections.
To prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, residents are calling on the state government to require buffer zones for aerial pesticide spray.
“We’re not against timber. We’re against poison,” said Cedar Valley resident, Kathryn Rickard.
Currently there are no buffer zones around homes or schools, and Oregon has significantly smaller stream buffers than other states in the Pacific Northwest.
The efforts of Cedar Valley residents to speak out about this incident helped launch bill SB 613, which was introduced to the Oregon Senate in early February. If passed, SB 613 will improve advance notification of sprays, establish protected areas where pesticide application is prohibited, and empower the Oregon Health Authority to issue penalties in the case of human exposure.
Panelists will answer questions about Cedar Valley’s ongoing organizing efforts, opportunities for participation and the collaborative process of creating the film.
If you have questions, please email aylieb [at] uoregon.edu or tchen6 [at] uoregon.edu.
Started by ENVS alum Raj Vable, the Eugene tea company Young Mountain Tea is a tea company with a social mission. Currently they are working with Himalayan farmers to grow new Indian tea ad are seeing $24,000 through crowdfunding to build the new sustainable tea region.
Young Mountain Tea, based in Eugene, Oregon, is partnering with farmers in the Indian Himalayas to grow the first tea that will lay the foundation for a new tea region. The partnership is turning to Kickstarter, the popular online crowdfunding platform, to raise the funds to create this tea.
The 30-day, $24,000 fundraising campaign starts February 17, 2015.
The project was inspired by Young Mountain Tea Founder Raj Vable’s experience working in the remote Kumaon region in the foothills of the Himalayas. As a graduate student at the University of Oregon, he started working with a Himalayan non-profit named Avani that creates rural livelihoods.
In 2013, he returned to the region on a Fulbright Fellowship and struck a deal with Avani – if they would grow tea, he would buy it. Later that year he returned to the United States, teamed up with friends also involved in social entrepreneurship and formed Young Mountain Tea.
“We named our company after the rising Himalayas, a mountain range that is still going up as the Indian subcontinent slams into Asia,” Vable noted.
After planting their first acre of tea saplings last year, this project will raise the funds to harvest, process and deliver the first tea. They are processing it as a white tea called white peony, traditionally known as Bai Mudan.
Backers of the projects will:
- Be the first to drink a new white tea hand made in small batches, using traditional techniques and the highest quality leaves.
- Create dignified rural livelihoods for remote mountain communities in the Kumaon region of the Indian Himalayas.
- Increase the resilience of mountain ecosystems by supporting organic permaculture that intercrops tea with other mountainous crops to restore biodiversity, strengthen native soils, and prevent landslides.
Backer rewards range from a $15 pouch of this new tea to a $2,500 authentic Indian Tea Pilgrimage, including spending time in the new tea region with Vable and the team.
To learn more, check out the Young Mountain Tea website.
University of Oregon students in an Environmental Justice course and the “Just Stories” 411 were recently featured on the front page of the Curry Coastal Pilot. The students visited the Curry County community of Cedar Valley to hear and document their stories about an herbicide spray that encroached on residential areas in October 2013.The students are producing a film documentary of the event to raise awareness that will be presented at the 2015 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference on March 5-8th at the UO School of Law.
Read the full article here.
The Environmental Studies Program welcomes Nicolae Morar to a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies beginning in Fall 2015.
Professor Morar specializes in bioethics (especially biomedical, genethics, environmental, and research ethics), philosophy of biology and ecology, and recent continental philosophy. His other interests include ethical theory, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of sexuality.
Morar earned his PhD from Purdue University in 2011 and has subsequently been a Visiting Scholar at The Hastings Center and a Postdoctoral Scholar with the Rock Ethics Institute at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a member of the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering (SRPoiSE). Currently, Morar is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Biology and an Associate Member with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon.
Morar is the editor, with Jonathan Beever, of Perspectives in Bioethics, Science, and Public Policy(Purdue University Press, 2013); and, with Thomas Nail and Dan Smith, of a Foucault Studies Special Issue on Foucault and Deleuze (2014). Forthcoming publications include Biopower: Michel Foucault and Beyond, edited with Vernon Cisney (University of Chicago Press, 2015); Between Foucault and Derrida, edited with Vernon Cisney and Yubraj Aryal (Edinburgh University Press, 2015), and Pierre Klossowski, Living Currency, translated with Vernon Cisney and Daniel W. Smith (Bloomsbury Press, 2015).
Morar is currently completing a monograph titled Biology, BioEthics, and BioPolitics: How To Think Differently About Human Nature. To learn more about Morar, visit his website at http://pages.uoregon.edu/nmorar/Nicolae_Morar/Welcome.html
In a review of the West’s top Environmental Philosophy programs, High Country News recently featured the University of Oregon’s Environmental Studies Program as “one of the strongest interdisciplinary environmental studies programs in the nation.”
Read the full article here.
We are pleased to announce that the Office for Research and Innovation has awarded Sarah Wald a New Junior Faculty Research Award. New Junior Faculty Research Awards are designated to support a new faculty member’s research program as they begin their appointment here at the UO. Dr. Wald joined the University of Oregon this year as the first joint hire between the Environmental Studies Program and the department of English.
To read more about Dr. Wald and her research interests, please click here.
Many students entering the University of Oregon think of Environmental Studies as a potential major from the day they arrive, but Adrian Robins was not one of them. He initially planned on studying psychology, so when he and a friend signed up for an introduction to environmental humanities, it was as a freshman year elective. “I wasn’t expecting what happened,” Adrian remarks. “I had taken a class in environmental science in high school, but reading people like Emerson and Leopold in ENVS 203, and learning about [organizations dedicated to food sovereignty], something about that woke me up and made me want to do more with my life.”
Adrian has since taken the opportunity to not only continue his classroom studies in the field of environmental studies, but to actually visit the field. He travelled to India for a study abroad program, where he learned from subsistence farmers. “I hadn’t really thought about alternate ways of dealing with food before because I’d never had the chance to see subsistence (plus it’s easy to ignore when you go to the supermarket for everything), but there are communities where the crop is everything, and control of that crop is critical.” This perspective has led him to a devoted interest in food sovereignty and the fight to protect it—including some time after his study abroad program with Navdanya, one of the organizations he first heard of in ENVS 203.
Food sovereignty and the importance of crop diversity has also followed Adrian into his thesis work. He is now a senior, graduating in June, and is in the process of gathering information about local seed saving networks. He is interested in the hows and whys that influence which seeds farmers choose to save. A number of crop varieties, he explains “are extinct or going extinct, and it’s a form of biodiversity that I think people don’t really pay attention to. But we’re heading to big changes environmentally, and the only way to ensure that we have food in the future is to have a diverse number of crops that can potentially survive.” Although Adrian initially planned for an environmental studies major, this focus on the applications of ecology to agriculture has led him to pursue a major in environmental science, with a minor in biology.
Many students have a similarly windy path through their college experience, and Adrian enjoys helping them out: he works currently as an Ecopeer, a position he has held for a year an a half, where he has the chance to advise undergraduate peers about the Environmental Studies Program. “It’s a pretty complicate major because we’re so interdisciplinary and it’s a big program, but I think my brain just works well with scheduling and organizing. Plus, I’ve liked my work because I’ve made a lot of connections to my peers in ENVS.”
Now that his undergraduate schedule is mostly set, what is Adrian planning for his own future? It’s a bit early to decide, but he’s considering agriculture-oriented positions with the Peace Corps or—perhaps—applying for a Fulbright scholarship to go back to India. Stop by the main ENVS office to chat and learn more!
Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.
Ezra Markowitz, who graduated from the University of Oregon with a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, Studies & Policy, joined the faculty of UMass Amherst this fall as an Assistant Professor, and is completing his first course, entitled “Environmental Decision-Making.”
Dr. Markowitz has always been interested in both psychology and environmental issues, although it wasn’t always clear how to merge them. He entered his undergraduate studies at Vassar College knowing that he wanted to major in psychology, and quickly became active within the school’s student environmental group. However, Markowitz explains that “they didn’t immediately seem to mesh. It wasn’t until my third year that my advisor in psychology told me ‘you know, you can combine those two interests of yours.’”
By the time he began looking for graduate schools he knew he wanted to study sustainability and decision-making, but “it wasn’t really clear how to do that in graduate school because there weren’t many programs available on the East coast. It ends up that the University of Oregon had what I was looking for, so it won out.” In Markowitz’s mind, Environmental Studies’ resources worked well with his professional goals because he was focused in his interests: “I get a lot of prospective graduate students looking at the program, and what I tell them is that it’s a really great place for people who have a good sense of what they want to study. Which is not everybody. But for me, the U of O gave me that support to explore and figure out on my own what had already been done in this new field, and what needed to be done.”
This interdisciplinary training, in which Markowitz drew from multiple departments to round out his education, also prepared him for his experiences after graduating. After defending his dissertation, he spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate with Princeton University’s Research Community on Communicating Uncertainty, where he worked with a group of political scientists, climate scientists, philosophers, and economists on the question of how to communicate scientific uncertainty regarding environmental change problems, both to policy-makers and the public. “It was a perfect extension of being at the U of O, he recounts, “because it was an incredible multi-disciplinary group. We certainly had challenges in terms of how to all talk and work together, but it was exciting. I spent the year running studies and finding that contrary to popular belief, you can actually increase people’s trust in climate scientists and in science more generally by being more open about the uncertainties that exist.”
Markowitz did get the chance to study among peers, though, when in 2013 he was invited to the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions at Columbia University. “For the first time in my life I was around people who do pretty much what I do. Everybody was a behavioral scientist doing environmental stuff, which was cool.” The group does much of its work on individuals’ decision-making under uncertainty, so “it was a nice flow from my work at Princeton.”
His position at Columbia University could have lasted for three years, but Markowitz was browsing faculty job postings and noticed one advertised by UMass Amherst “for something like human decision-making in environmental conservation. So I figured it was a pretty good fit.” It was: after a lengthy interview process, Markowitz found himself with a tenure-track position in a location that he is excited to explore. “I hadn’t applied to many jobs,” he admits, “but this seemed right for me. It’s in a place that reminds me a lot of the Willamette Valley in terms of politics and the physical layout of the valley around the river, with little mountains all around. I really did enjoy my time in Oregon.”
At UMass, Markowitz expects to keep his steady focus on how to blend research with practical application. Not only will he continue to offer consulting to policy groups outside of academia, he remains dedicated to investigations that support smart activism. “I don’t necessarily have the tools to put my findings into practice, but my goal is always for the research that I’m doing to be both practical and applicable. I want to help inform the work that’s happening on the ground.”
Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.
The Ecotone: The Journal of Environmental Studies at University of Oregon is soliciting submissions for our 2015 issue. The Ecotone is the annual interdisciplinary journal produced by the graduate students of Environmental Studies. (To view the 2014 issue, click here!)
Graduate students and faculty in any department are invited to submit work for review. Submissions may include academic work, creative writing, journalism, visual art, book and film reviews, and interviews.
The deadline for all submissions has been extended to 5:00 pm on Saturday, January 31st, 2014. Email questions and submissions to Katrina Maggiulli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An article about ELP’s 2013 environmental education projects has recently been published by Clearing, the Pacific Northwest Journal of Community-based Environmental Literacy Education. Not only does the article offer a summary of each project, but features collaborative writing by the undergraduate students who participated.
Where does your drinking water come from? This central question drove the trajectory of several of last year’s Environmental Leadership Project programs, which focused on helping students develop a connection to the sole source of their drinking water, the McKenzie River. “The two main goals of the new EE effort,” writes ELP Co-Director Katie Lynch, “were to: 1) create a year-long program for UO students interested in EE careers (that would provide them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to develop and implement place-based, experiential programs) and 2) develop age-appropriate, engaging MyMcKenzie curricula for local youth, grades 1-8, that promotes the stewardship of the McKenzie River.”
One EE project, Critters and Currents, strove to give elementary school students a sense of connection and kinship with the McKenzie River watershed, while another, Canopy Connections, helped students climb 90 feet into a Douglas fir.
To read more, please visit Clearing here.
KHSU Radio’s Econews recently aired an interview with ENVS Affiliate Faculty Theresa May about her powerful new book Salmon Is Everything: Community-Based Theatre in the Klamath Watershed. A new resource for educators teaching environmental education, Native studies, the humanities and performing arts, it tells how theatre artists worked with tribal communities to create documentary theatre about the salmon crisis in the Pacific Northwest. After a devastating fish kill on the Klamath River, tribal members and theatre artist Theresa May developed a play to give voice to the central spiritual and cultural role of salmon in tribal life. The book contains the complete script of “Salmon Is Everything” with production information, as well as insightful essays about arts and activism, the role of salmon in Native culture. This interdisciplinary book bridges knowledge in science, social studies, and theatre arts by showing students how the arts can help us understand diverse cultures and care for our environment.
To listen to the interview, click here. Dr. May’s interview begins roughly 3/4 of the way through the program.