Thursday, April 17, 2008

All Welcome at Environmental Horizons Conference on U of I Campus, April 23rd & 24th

All Welcome at Environmental Horizons Conference on U of I Campus, April 23rd & 24th

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Back in 1987 a report commissioned by the United Nations defined sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." In the years since then, the concept of sustainability has come to serve as a focus for thinking about a wide range of environmental questions. In that spirit, the 10th annual Environmental Horizons conference, hosted on campus next week by the University of Illinois Environmental Council, has been conceived of as a "sustainability summit." According to Environmental Council Director William Sullivan, sustainability means that something will last and that it is equitable. In his words, “environmental sustainability ensures that social, economic and ecological processes are maintained so that both the short and long-term quality of life and the health and diversity of natural ecosystems are not compromised.”

Daytime sessions at the Environmental Horizons conference will feature panels of University of Illinois faculty who are working to define and resolve the greatest environmental challenges the world faces today. Topics for these panels include everything from land and water use to biodiversity, energy and climate change. If you take an interest in such issues these panels provide an excellent opportunity to engage with experts who are working right here in east central Illinois on issues that are of consequence worldwide.

The Environmental Horizons conference will also offer opportunities to learn about the exciting environmental research being conducted by University of Illinois undergraduates and graduate students with poster displays where they will be on hand to explain their work. This work includes everything from the challenges of developing water supplies in Nigeria, to the impact of native planting for sustaining bee populations, to the role of natural environments in curbing symptoms of AD/HD.

Evenings at the Environmental Horizons conference will offer opportunities to hear from nationally recognized speakers on two of the central questions of our day. On Wednesday evening Richard J. Jackson, former director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, will speak about the ways patterns of suburban development based on travel by car degrade human health. Jackson anticipates that an understanding of the connection between the environments we build for ourselves and our well-being can put us on a better track for the future. He looks forward a world in which “our children and grandchildren will be able to walk or bicycle home from their workplaces through attractive communities.”

On Thursday evening Majora Carter, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx and a 2005 MacArthur fellow, will talk about what she terms “greening the ghetto.” Carter will address both the how and why of green development in America’s low-income urban areas, and talk about the broad consequences to our society if we fail in this endeavor.

The Environmental Horizons conference will take place next Wednesday and Thursday, April 23rd and 24th, at the Illini Union on the University of Illinois Campus. Members of the campus community and the general public alike are welcome to attend, and no registration is required. Further details are available