Alexander Wragge-Morley, Clinical Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies and History at New York University, visited campus on February 12, 2020, to share his lecture, “Words, Experience & Non-Resemblance: Representing Nature in 17th-Century England.” He discussed the way English naturalists, particularly botanist John Ray (1627-1705), represented their findings about concrete research in the natural world through figures meant to evoke emotional responses from their viewers.
The Careers in Sustainability panel, hosted by the Gordon Career Center, the College of the Environment, and the Sustainability Office on October 4, 2019, included Nora Vogel ’11, director of communications for Coalition for Green Capital. The College of the Environment graduated its first cohort of environmental studies majors in 2010. Below, an interview with Vogel ’11, one of the first students to ever major in environmental studies at Wesleyan.
Did you come to Wesleyan knowing you wanted to study Environmental Studies? What led you to the COE?
Nora Vogel (NV): I knew I was interested in science and the environment, and I was thinking about doing biology. I actually worked in Professor Sonia Sultan’s lab, which was an amazing experience. At the same time, it felt hard to stick to research science as a career path, when I felt that many decision-makers in the world aren’t listening to the perfectly good science that we already have. That’s what got me interested in communications and in the Science in Society Program (SISP). I wondered what makes people make decisions about things, and what makes them trust one source and not another one. I took a Media in Society class that dovetailed really well with that, along with some sociology classes. I took a philosophy class with Professor Joseph Rouse about objectivity that I loved; we went deep down the rabbit hole of whether objective truth really exists. I still think about it all the time. The great thing about SISP was that it gave me a way to fit those things together, and it ended up being directly relevant to the career path I ended up on.
Introduction to Environmental Studies/ENVS197 examines the technical and social causes of environmental degradation at local and global scales, along with the potential for developing policies and philosophies that are the basis of a sustainable society. This semester Dr. Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is teaching the course. Poulos is a plant ecologist who examines the influences of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on local-, landscape-, and regional-scale plant distribution patterns. She recently received a $300K research grant from NASA.
What are the class components of ENVS197 and how do those components tie-in with the COE’s focus on interdisciplinary study?
Helen Poulos (HP): The course is an intro/survey course, so we cover topics spanning the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The idea is to cover the breadth of the field of study. The final project, however, is designed as a way for students to dive deeper into one environmental issue that really interests them. The final project options this semester include working with Wesleyan Physical Plant and Forklift Danceworks, making an artist book, or writing a Green Fund proposal. All three options are designed to provide students with unique opportunities to engage with environmental issues through a particular lens. For the Physical Plant project, students shadow Physical Pant workers for three hours each week and have biweekly group meetings with my course assistant, Tamara Rivera ‘21 and Gretechen LaMotte ’18 of Forklift Danceworks (via Skype). For the artist book project, students workshop their projects with Suzy Taraba from Special Collections and participate in two bookbinding and printmaking workshops with Alexander Osborne, visiting assistant professor of art. I also lead two workshops on grant writing for students who select the Green Fund proposal option.