Welcome to the Fall Edition of the TEA Newsletter!
The Steering Committee is happy to report that the Plum Island Walking Tour was a success! Experiences like the Walking Tour are a great way to invigorate the senses. If you couldn’t join us, don’t worry–you can read a recap of the event below, and help us plan the next one! The Committee hopes to institute not just a fall outdoor program but also a spring walk–please e-mail us (TuftsEnvironmentalAlumni@gmail.com) with any suggestions or to help organize.
Along with the Plum Island recap, this edition of the newsletter includes updates from TIE and Environmental Studies, interviews with alumni and past TIE interns, an “un-review” book review, and plenty of on-campus events open to alumni.
Best of luck to everyone this fall and I hope to see you at a future TEA event!
— Ann Gisinger (G’10) on behalf of the TEA Steering Committee
Plum Island Recap
The Plum Island walking tour with Rick Wetzler was a great event! We had perfect weather, just like last year’s Crane Beach trip. I brought four people with me, and we enjoyed ourselves so much that we extended our excursion by strolling around Newburyport and going to Caffe Di Siena for cappuccinos!
The group was a good size, over 25 alumni from six decades–the 1960s through the 2010s!–and we all got to mingle and talk during the walk. Rick was very knowledgeable and his presentation engaging–stiff competition for the blue sky, light breeze, and enticing beach. We enjoyed strolling and finding objects to discuss with others.
The lunch location was perfect-sheltered with benches and out of the wind. And everyone seemed to like the food! As an event, this seems to be a winning combination: an expert alumni guide and a pristine natural setting. The success of Saturday’s event prompted some to suggest a Spring walk as well, perhaps in Saugus’s Breakheart Reservation.
Click here for more photos of the event.
Alison Simcox, TEA Steering Committee member
Tufts Institute of the Environment Update
I can’t believe we are halfway through the fall semester already! This happens every year – when faculty and students return to school, the energy level is so high, we can’t help but get caught up in it!
University-wide strategic planning has really kicked into high gear now that we have welcomed our new President Tony Monaco and our new Provost David Harris into the Tufts community. Some of the areas being addressed by this Strategic Plan (http://now.tufts.edu/articles/strategic-planning-initiative-begins) include entrepreneurship, innovation, and interdisciplinary research, areas in which TIE has considerable expertise. We are proud to contribute this expertise to the planning process. In other areas, such as online learning, we are just starting to build new strength—we will be making next year’s Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) on One Health available online.
In addition to strategic planning working groups, the President has also formed thematic area working groups, which are very relevant to us. The water research working group is populated by many TIE- and WSSS-affiliated faculty, and the chair is School of Engineering Dean Linda Abriola, thereby ensuring that the collective knowledge of the WSSS and Water Diplomacy IGERT programs will be integrated into the planning process.
As for TIE itself, we welcome new members of both of our main TIE faculty committees this year. The TIE co-faculty group now includes Prof. David Gute, Associate Professor in the School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Professor Tim Griffin, Associate Professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy. They replace Professor Gretchen Kaufman, Assistant Professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, who has moved from Tufts University to Washington State University and Professor Elena Naumova, who has become Dean of Research for the School of Engineering. We were very sad to see Elena and Gretchen leave the group, but give them our warmest congratulations to them for their new positions. The WSSS steering committee has one new member, Professor John Durant, an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is replacing Professor Rich Vogel as the Chair of the Steering Committee. Rich is on sabbatical and we wish him all the best in his travels. For more about our new members, and what they will bring to their positions, please see our website.
We also have a new roster of TIE student interns. Welcome to Denise Chin, Brynna Bolger, Katie Miller, and Dylan Portelance. It’s always exciting to have new faces in the office, and there are plenty of projects and events to keep them busy!
I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge award. Dante DeMeo and Corey Shemelya of Electrical and Computer Engineering won the grand prize for their project, “Harvesting Heat: Changing Waste Heat into Usable Electricity”; Graham R. Jeffries of the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program was runner up with his work on “An Integrative Framework for Foodshed Scenario Modeling.” We are proud to partner with Dow to administer this award for Tufts, to allow these unique and groundbreaking ideas to come to life.
On September 14th, TIE and WSSS program coordinator Emily Geosling and I spent an enjoyable day with our new TIE fellows at their retreat. We took a hike at the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge observing turtles in beautiful fall weather, then went apple picking at Honey Pot Hill Orchards, and finally visited the local organic Waltham Fields Community Farm. The trip was a great networking opportunity and we hope the fellows will cross-pollinate their research in the future.
On October 4th, I spoke on behalf of Green Pro Bono at a breakfast networking event at the Nixon Peabody offices. My presentation was on entrepreneurship and how we can create resilient, adaptable, and sustainable communities, a topic I have contemplated a great deal over the summer. Green Pro Bono is an organization founded by one of your fellow alums, Nancy Reiner (J’79). The organization works to connect environmental and climate-change driven non-profits and entrepreneurs with legal assistance and resources to help them work to implement their goals.
On Saturday October 6th, I participated in a roundtable discussion on the same topic during the conference on Climate Change and Climate Justice that was hosted by Tufts University in collaboration with the Peace and Justice Studies Association. The conference was titled ““Anticipating Climate Disruption: Sustaining Justice, Greening Peace,” and discussed the effects of our social and economic structures on how society is interfacing with the issue of climate change. We also discussed the role that social inequality will play as climate disruption unfolds, and talked about sustainable solutions. It was a great day, filled with discussions with students, faculty, and the other panelists.
I am very sorry to have missed this year’s TEA beach walk, which I had been looking forward to very much. Unfortunately, I was attending a student fieldtrip that morning and have not learned to be in two places at the same time. I will make sure not to miss the next one! I hope you will enjoy a wonderful New England fall if you are in the area, otherwise I wish you an enjoyable Halloween and a happy Thanksgiving.
Antje Danielson is the Administrative Director of the Tufts Institute of the Environment. She can be reached at Antje.Danielson(at)tufts(dot)edu.
Environmental Studies Update
Hello Environmental Alums!
With the fall semester we welcome a new cohort of freshman to our campus, 61 of whom have already expressed interest in Environmental Studies. They have come to the right place! From our newsletter that keeps them up-to-date on events and internship opportunities to our Lunch & Learn Lecture Series presentations—which are open to everyone, and we’d love to see more alumni attendees—on Thursdays, from 12-1pm at the Tisch College, there are a myriad of ways for them to get—and stay—involved.
We would also like to welcome our new professor, Ujjayant Chakravorty, to the Department of Economics. Dr. Chakravorty is Professor of Economics at Tufts University and Fellow at the Toulouse School of Economics and CESifo. He research is on the economics of fossil fuels and clean energy, the effect of environmental regulation on energy prices and the economics of water resources. His full biography is here.
Dr. Chakravorty is the first professor to arrive in our program from the 2012 Cluster Hire and he has already had an impact on the Environmental Studies Program. He will be offering a new course on environmental economics this coming Spring 2013 (EC 08: Principles of Economics with Environmental Applications) that is the primary economics course required in the new core curriculum in the program. Dr. Chakravorty will also be presenting at our first Lunch & Learn in the Spring, is currently accepting advisees, and will become an integral member of our Environmental Studies Executive Committee.
Additionally, we would like to welcome our new intern and a current Environmental Studies student, Valerie Cleland to the ENVS program office. Ms. Cleland is co-majoring in Environmental Studies and Biology and is assisting us as we expand our program offerings and services. We are very excited to have her around. Keep an eye out for her at local events as she will be assisting us with our social media sites and events, helping with research and office tasks, as well as interviewing and writing for our newsletter.
We look forward to a strong and productive year in Environmental Studies. For more information on the Lunch & Learn series, or how to be involved as an alumni, visit the newly updated website, or e-mail me.
Colin Orians is a Professor in the Biology department and Director of the Environmental Studies program. He can be reached at Colin.Orians(at)tufts(dot)edu.
By Caroline Incledon (A’13)
Joshua Berkowitz (G’08) focused on water resources management and policy, and environmental dispute resolution during his tenure at Tufts. In addition to his ongoing environmental professional work since graduation, Berkowitz is a naturalist, writer, and photographer. He can be reached at joshua.berkowitz(at)gmail(dot)com.
Caroline Incledon: While at Tufts, you were on the Steering Committee of Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) and a Program Coordinator at Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE). How did working with these groups supplement your academic experience?
Joshua Berkowitz: I had the unique experience to be both a student and work behind the scenes at the university, so I saw the overlap between my academic studies and the professional experiences going on at Tufts. Working at those organizations also broke down the barriers between the administration, faculty and students. I think that says a lot about how Tufts functions, and how the administration tries to work with students and faculty on environmental initiatives and sustainability efforts. Being directly involved in programming at the university and getting such a close look at Tufts’ commitment to environmental education, initiatives, and sustainability was a great adjunct to my education.
You were a member of the Water: Systems, Science, and Society (WSSS) graduate certificate program. How has that impacted your work in the field?
WSSS definitely had a big impact on my professional training. My time in WSSS taught me how to successfully work across disciplines (technical, political, economic, etc.) and across sectors (governmental, NGO, private sector, community groups, and academia) to achieve real world results. WSSS took education to a very practical and applied level, where students learned from their own successes and failures on real projects. Teachers and students had to collaborate with experts from all fields—an approach that is also critical to getting anything done in the working world, particularly in the environmental arena. As Director of California Environmental Dialogue, I convened multi-sector and multi-stakeholder policy negotiations, and found that the ability to effectively work with professionals from very diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and areas of expertise was incredibly important. Although the technical and analytical skills that I cultivated at WSSS and at UEP have been very important to my work, I would say far more important have been the less tangible skills I developed—for example, how to successfully work with a diverse group of stakeholders.
What did you see as the most ubiquitous, difficult environmental problems facing developing nations?
I would say the most critical issue is water, as health, well-being, development, education, and environmental stewardship all in some way depend on access to clean sources of water and adequate sanitation. According to the World Health Organization, about 37% of the developing world’s population —2.5 billion people—lack improved sanitation facilities, while over 780 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources – and I certainly saw the impacts of this first hand during my work in developing countries. I think the combination of water issues will be the biggest problem the developing world faces moving forward, particularly as climate change further stresses already overburdened, inadequate, and poorly managed water systems.
In your past job as Director of the California Environmental Dialogue, you facilitated multi-sector stakeholder dialogue and negotiation around the setting of environmental policies for the state of CaliforniaWhat are some of the challenges of achieving compromise in environmental policy work, and in reconciling the interests of business, environmental, and government leaders?
For all kinds of collaborations, it really comes down to making people feel like they’re being heard. If they feel heard, they’re more likely to listen deeply to the other stakeholders and truly consider their perspectives, rather than just formulating a rebuttal. And then they will almost always buy in to the process, because it feels fair to them, and it feels personal, which makes them genuinely vested in the outcome. With any kind of multiparty contentious process—especially dialogue or negotiations—it is critical to get and maintain stakeholder buy-in. Additionally, in order for an outcome to be implemented by all the parties, everyone has to feel that the process was fair and that their interests were genuinely represented.
Along similar lines, one of the biggest challenges to achieving consensus or compromise among parties is a perception that the other stakeholders are somehow fundamentally different from themselves, when in reality, they share far more in common than that which separates them. My experience has been that facilitating ways for people to connect with one another on a pretty basic human level—outside of their fixed, postured positions—and getting them to focus on shared common ground will vastly improve the likelihood for success. What it really comes down to is developing a sense of trust between stakeholders, which tends to have a snowballing effect. It’s pretty amazing how willing people can become to compromise after they’ve shared a drink or a meal with another person, who they can now think of as a peer, instead of as an adversary.
Do you think policy dialogue discussions are becoming easier or more difficult as the environmental situation worsens?
That’s a tough question. It’s a perspective—is the glass half empty or half full? It can be easy to get pessimistic, particularly with how ineffectual international policy has been around climate change. But there are rays of hope, and there is always vast potential for political and economic transformation. I have seen a great amount of progress at the subnational level – that is states, cities, or other local or regional jurisdictions – successfully developing policies that respond to the challenge of climate change. It is clear that states and. Municipalities have grown tired of waiting for effective national or international action and so are implementing their own aggressive climate goals. It is my hope that state and local environmental initiatives will drive national and eventually international action, as well as that some of the world’s emerging economies will take a different development track than have been historically adopted by the western nations. I see lots of reasons for hope as our awareness, technology and resource management improve; the challenge will be balancing sustainable resource use with a rapidly expanding human population and consumer class.
Do you have any advice for current Tufts/WSSS students wanting to enter the professional world?
Get direct experience! Through jobs, internships, or volunteerism—just get real world experience. As valuable as academic study is, real world work experience lets you see where the rubber meets the road, and teaches you a very different way to conceptualize the things that you are learning in the classroom. Tufts in general—and UEP and WSSS in particular—do a really great job of facilitating real world experience for students, so take full advantage of those opportunities.
Caroline Incledon (A’13) is an intern at TIE and a senior at Tufts. She is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Mass Communications and Media Studies. She has previously worked with international NGOs such as Global Policy Forum and Club de Madrid, and became interested in issues of sustainability while working on issues of responsible investment in higher education. At TIE, she works on social media and various communications projects.
No Longer Silent on Spring
By Regina Raboin
This is not a book review. How can one of the most influential books of the Twentieth Century be reviewed? It can’t be, nor should it be. However, the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring provides a fitting moment to revisit this landmark book and the vital questions it raises.
Carson published her book at a time when the second wave of the women’s movement was just beginning, and important scientific circles and the chemical industry considered her environmental message to be overwrought and overdrawn. Why? Because she was telling the truth about the chemicals—organic and inorganic—poisoning the Earth.
In Silent Spring, Carson wonders how the assault on the environment by the overuse of chemical pesticides will be received by future historians: “How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?” (p. 8) During the mid-twentieth century, the combination of over-population, agricultural over-production, increased introduction of non-native plant and animal species, and a virtually unregulated chemical industry produced a chemical vortex that infiltrated the Earth’s air, water and soil. Moreover, world militaries were demanding more powerful chemical weapons, and the “war on the environment” was in full swing—DDT, chlordane, dieldrin, heptachlor and other pesticides and herbicides were used indiscriminately in the United States and throughout the world to “control” insects, disease, and famine. What wasn’t understood, or was purposefully ignored, were the cumulative effects and damage done by these chemicals.
So, on this 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, have we successfully heeded Carson’s call to take the “other fork of the road—the one ‘less traveled by’…our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth”? (p. 276) We’ve made some progress. For example, the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, changes to the U.S. Department’s of Agriculture (USDA) and Forest Services (USFS) farming and pest control policies, and a sustained Environmental Movement have helped mitigate certain environmental issues. But as the world’s population continues to grow and develop, we have created ever more global environmental justice issues, such as dependence on fossil fuels, widespread use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the precarious state of food and water security for many, and increasing computer waste. And these challenges threaten to undo the Twentieth Century’s important ecological advances.
In our academic community, the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE), Office of Sustainability (OOS), Center for International Environment and Resource Policy (CIERP), Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS), Environmental Studies Program (ENVS) , Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning (UEP), and other environmentally-oriented Tufts programs strive to keep environmental justice, sustainable development, and environmental education/communication at the local and global forefronts.
Will complacency and acceptance of the status quo be this century’s legacy? Not if every generation reads and takes to heart Rachel Carson’s important message in Silent Spring: “The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance…when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man.” (Carson, p.297) Let’s take care not to “silence” future springs, or there will be no future.
Silent Spring and Rachel Carson’s other works can be found in Tisch Library by doing an Author search in the Tufts Catalog http://www.library.tufts.edu
The book referenced in this article is:
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
With an Introduction by Vice-president Al Gore
Drawings by Lois and Louis Darling
Boston Houghton Mifflin, 1962.
Regina Raboin is a Science Research & Instruction Librarian at Tufts University’s Tisch Library. She can be reached at Regina.raboin(at)tufts.edu
Past TIE Interns: Where Are They Now?
By Caroline Incledon (A’13)
TIE has been lucky to have some great interns over the past few years. Here, a few of them tell us what they’re up to and how TIE helped them get there.
Job at TIE: Coordinator for Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI)
Current Job: National Program Coordinator for the EnvironMentors Program at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE)
“At its heart, EnvironMentors is about increasing environmental stewardship and literacy among youth. To make that happen, the program relies on dedicated individuals at university campuses across the country. My time assisting with the Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute (TELI) really taught me that these dedicated individuals exist! There are strong environmental advocates in disciplines across any university, and they can do amazing things when brought together and supported.”
Job at TIE: worked on the Climate Change Climate Justice Initiative and TELI
Current Job: Intern for the Vulnerability and Adaptation Initiative at the World Resources Institute
“At WRI, I’m working on a research project intended to shed light on what information decision makers in South Asia really need in order to adapt to climate change.”
“My work at TIE helped me stay aware of what was happening in the world outside of my academic bubble. It exposed me to a range of other issues, which are all interconnected in the environmental field. It also helped me to be comfortable reaching out to people I don’t work with on a regular basis and organizing events.”
Job at TIE: Graduate Research Intern at TIE and at the Office of Sustainability
Current Job: Sustainability Program Manager at GreenerU
“GreenerU is a company that works with colleges and universities to help them achieve their sustainability goals. We do this both on the infrastructure projects, such as lighting efficiency and retrocommissionaire projects as well as on the human behavior side. My role in the company is on the human behavior side. I work with students, faculty, and staff providing training, facilitation, communication, strategic planning, and program development all with the goal of increasing pro-environmental behaviors.”
“I would not be doing what I am doing today if it was not for the support of TIE and the Office of Sustainability. In my role at TIE I was able to do the important research on human behavior change in the field of sustainability that I still use today. Plus, my experience in teaching a course I designed for the XCollege at Tufts – Environmental Action, Shifting From Saying to Doing, allowed me to test my theory, implement my research, and develop a love for working with college age students.”