Each academic year the COE gathers a small group of Wesleyan faculty members, a scholar of prominence from outside Wesleyan, and a small group of undergraduate students into a year-long academic think tank on a critical environmental issue. The aim of the think tank is not only to generate a deeper understanding of the thematic issue, but also to produce scholarly works that will influence national/international thinking and action on the issue. This year’s Think Tank theme: Meaningful Worlds: Listening and Learning Beyond the Human.
Charles Siebert, the 2019-20 Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the College of the Environment, was honored at Born Free USA’s A Night for Wildlife event on September 26th with the Wildlife Ambassador award. Siebert was chosen for the award for “his work exposing the horrors and fallacies behind elephants in captivity.” His recent New York Times magazine cover story examined the importation of 18 African elephants by three U.S. zoos, and was a driving factor behind the passage of a new CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) resolution that prohibits the future importation of wild elephants for zoo exhibits.
Wesleyan students organized various events for a day of climate action on September 20, 2019, as part of the week-long Global Climate Strike.
Events kicked off with a Climate Rally outside of Usdan, featuring speeches by students, staff, and other members of Wesleyan’s community. Students from Wesleyan’s Climate Action Group and other environmental groups spoke about the ongoing sustainability and activism efforts around campus and the next steps in the movement. Staff members and Middletown residents, including Professor Anthony Hatch, Chair of the Science in Society Program and COE faculty member; Ben Florsheim ’14, Middletown’s Democratic mayoral nominee; and Nur Fitzpatrick, Middletown resident and activist, also spoke about the importance of the Climate Strike and environmental activism at a local level. The rally was followed by a march around campus. Click here for more photos from the Climate Rally and March.
At 4:30 pm, Professor of Physics Brian Stewart presented his annual Climate Rant on the subject of Tipping Points. He contextualized the talk within the day’s events on campus and the climate action movement on a global and historical scale. Professor Stewart also posted a comprehensive introduction to the Climate Strike events on the Middletown Eye, a community news blog. His post details the science behind climate change as well as both governmental and public responses to the topic.
Later that afternoon, staff and students met at the front steps of Olin Library for a candlelight vigil, which ended on the corner of Church and High streets.
Related reading about the events:
Last month, Kari Weil, University Professor of the College of Letters and a faculty member of the College of the Environment, delivered the keynote address at Beastly Modernisms, an international conference on the animal turn in modernist studies hosted by Glasgow University. Her keynote, entitled “Modernisms, Magnetisms, and the Beastly Burdens of Memory,” focused on animal magnetism–the force that one animal body can have one another.
On Thursday, September 12, Dr. Paul Spitzer ‘68 gave a talk titled “Lessons From the Osprey Gardens” to mark the first day of his monthlong stay at Wesleyan. Dr. Spitzer is a visiting guest who will be giving several talks over the course of his stay and leading field trips for Mike Singer’s BIOL220/ Conservation Biology class. His next seminar—Biological Secrets & Ecological Significance of the Common Loon—will take place on Thursday, October 3 at noon here at Wesleyan.
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Laurie Kenney has been a member of the Wesleyan University community since 2014. Before joining the College of the Environment, she was a writer/editor and the editorial marketing manager in Wesleyan’s Office of University Communications. Laurie’s professional experience includes 20+ years in publishing, public relations, marketing, and education. Her favorite on-the-job experience: Working with Sir Roger Moore on his book, Bond on Bond: Reflections on 50 Years of James Bond Movies.
Shaya is an intern at the COE and a member of the class of 2022 from Huntington, New York. An Environmental Studies, English, and French Studies major, Shaya is also a Sustainable Middletown Intern with the Sustainability Office, a member of the Green Fund Committee, and an Orientation Leader. Shaya is interested in martial arts, eco-fiction, environmental law, and groundhog-spotting on campus.
Barry Chernoff is the director of the College of the Environment and The Robert F. Schumann Chair of Environmental Studies. Chernoff joined the Wesleyan faculty in 2003. He teaches courses in Environmental Studies, Tropical Ecology, Aquatic Ecosystem Conservation, and Quantitative Analysis for the departments of Biology and Earth & Environmental Sciences. Chernoff’s research centers on the freshwater fishes of the Neotropical region, primarily those in South America in the Amazon. His research includes, ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation. He has also led international teams on expeditions designed to conserve large watersheds of the world, having made more than 32 expeditions in 12 countries.
- Read: Discover magazine: Barry Chernoff — In His Own Words
- Watch: Engaged Conversations — Bill McKibben and Barry Chernoff
- Watch: Understanding Biodiversity
In the past, Chernoff held professorial and curatorial positions at the Field Museum, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He holds a visiting position at Universidad Central de Venezuela. In his “spare” time, Chernoff is the guitarist for the Mattabesset String Collective, a 5-piece acoustic ensemble playing an eclectic mix of bluegrass, blues, folk, mountain, country and rock, all in a string band style.