Thursday, January 14, 2010

A preview of Spring 2010 U of I environmental talks, events

A preview of Spring 2010 U of I environmental talks, events

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Given the budget concerns and other other woes that have troubled the University of Illinois recently, it can be easy to forget that, one way or another, research and teaching that address the most important questions of our day is still getting done here. If you have any doubts on that score, let me call your attention to the many events addressing environmental concerns slated for the months to come, all which are open members of the campus community and the public alike.

Four talks are scheduled in a series organized by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities called “Climate Change and the Humanities.” Talks in this series are given by scholars from around the country who, according to series organizers, “bring a unique perspective to our understanding of the human dimensions and to the projected lived consequences of climate change as it is expected to progress in the coming decades.”

The first of these will take place on February 10 and feature Andrew Light, who is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University. Light will describe what he think ethicists need to do if they want to play a role in shaping national and international policy on climate change, which he construes as one of the most important moral problems of our day.

A series of talks begun last Fall under the Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy initiative headed by Jesse Ribot of the UI Department of Geography will continue with four talks this Spring. This series, “Climate and Society,” features researchers from around the world who are working on the analysis of climate and social vulnerability. The next talk in this series is scheduled for January 29 and will be given by Stephen Humphreys of the London School of Economics. Humphreys’ talk will address the question of access to technologies for climate change adaptation and mitigation under international law.

Other talks in the “Climate and Society” series will draw attention to water management in Brazil, the security risk inherent in conflicts over water, food and health in India, and the broader question of how much potential humans have to adapt to the coming climate.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center will continue its lunchtime seminar series on sustainability this semester with presentations that focus on opportunities in agriculture for conservation and curbing global warming.

A more interactive series called “The Human Place in Nature,” will bring together small panels of UI faculty for discussions that will open up to questions and observations from others attending. Through this ten-session series, which is organized by professor of law Eric Freyfogle on behalf of the Office of Sustainability, participants will be introduced to literature that addresses fundamental questions of how humans relate to the natural world. By this means, it is hoped, they will become better equipped to grapple with more particular environmental issues.

Following are Web links for details about these series, as well as links to some of the departmental seminars that might also be of interest to Environmental Almanac readers.

“Climate Change and the Humanities”

“Climate and Society”

“Sustainability, Energy, and the Environment”

“The Human Place in Nature”

Departmental series:

Department of Geography Colloquium

Illinois Natural History Survey Seminars

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences faculty presentations:


February 18. Innovators Imrpov conversation on 'Sustainability’ at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

February 19. Advancing the Illinois Sustainability Vision.

February 23-24. Electronics and Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment

March 12 & 13. Naturally Illinois Expo: