Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two opportunities for engaging environmental issues (and one activity, just for fun)

Two opportunities for engaging environmental issues

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This week, let me call your attention to a couple of very interesting upcoming opportunities for engaging environmental issues.

The first is a ten-week series of seminars on scholarship relating to sustainability titled, “The Human Place in Nature.” Sponsored by the University of Illinois Office of Sustainability and coordinated by professor of law Eric Freyfogle, this series is open to students, faculty, staff and the public alike.

In the words of organizers, the series “will explore the big-picture issues of humans and nature, the foundational issues that frame our environmental plight, morally and intellectually.” It will then also provide a quick survey of the most significant challenges humanity faces today, along with some assessment of the mechanisms available for meeting them.

Even though participants in the Scholarship of Sustainability series need not be enrolled as students, they will be asked to do their homework, which will consist of readings on the day’s topic from a variety of sources. Some of these are simply short articles from newspapers and magazines, but there are other pieces you’ll want to read at a desk, pencil in hand (or whatever the equivalent of that is, if you’re looking at the electronic version). All readings are available in electronic form, or in a spiral bound book that will be sold at the first session.

Sessions will begin with remarks from a small panel of UI faculty with expertise in the day’s subject, and then be opened up for questions and discussion.
The Scholarship of Sustainability sessions will take place from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays in room 103, Mumford Hall on the U of I campus, The first session meets next Thursday, February 3rd.

Even if you’re not up for the kind of engagement the Scholarship of Sustainability series offers, you might be interested in a one-day workshop that will be conducted at the University YMCA on February 6. It is designed to help citizens prepare to take part in the annual environmental lobby day at the state capitol in Springfield later in the Spring.

The workshop is being conducted by the organization “Faith in Place,” whose mission is “to help people of faith understand that issues of ecology and economy—of care for Creation—are at the forefront of social justice.”

The workshop will include an overview of the legislative agenda being pursued this year by a statewide coalition of environmental groups, along with some nuts-and-bolts training in how to lobby, and some discussion of policy opportunities at the federal level.

Noting that the scale of our current ecological problems requires action beyond individual and community stewardship, Faith in Place coordinator Brian Sauder said, “I cannot overstate the importance of this public advocacy work to promote renewable energy, increase access to local food, and ensure the safety of our drinking water.”

The Faith in Place Environmental Policy Workshop will take place from 2:15 – 4:15 p.m., which means you can attend and not have to miss the kickoff for the Super Bowl.

On the Web

Scholarship of Sustainability

Faith in Place workshop

Just for fun

In anticipation of Groundhog Day next week, the creative folks at the Illinois Natural History Survey have designed a make-your-own paper groundhog that you can use to predict how much winter we have left. A great project for kids, and the young at heart.