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.
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.
Assistant Professor of Psychology H. Shellae Versey, PhD and Emma Ritter ’19 launched a faculty-student research collaboration during the 2018-2019 academic year exploring Communities in Crisis: The impact of disasters on mental health. The research focused on environmental hazards—both natural and manmade—and the resulting effect on health and displacement among various communities. A COE faculty-student research a grant provided Versey and Ritter the opportunity to conduct research that would not have been otherwise possible.
Just coming up on the solstice, the official start of the season, and summer is already well underway at Wesleyan’s Long Lane Farm. After a busy springtime of sowing seeds and preparing plots, the first vegetables of the season are finally ready to harvest. And the first full harvest of the season means it’s time for of one of my favorite tasks at Long Lane—bringing our delicious produce down to the North End Farmer’s Market!