zepeda ’23: from “wild idea” to successful event

Snow Raven (photo by Nélida Samara Zepeda)

I met Snow Raven after Wesleyan’s shift to remote learning during the spring of my freshman year in 2020. Living and studying at my parent’s home, a tiny house by the Russian River in California, amongst nine other beings who inhabit the home, was not a sustainable option for me. With no room to myself, or privacy, there was simply no space for me to cultivate a healthy learning environment, one of the biggest reasons why I chose to travel 3,000 miles away from home to study in Middletown, Connecticut. Having already built community and relationships in Maui, Hawai’i, during my year off before university, I decided to take a leap of faith. I reached out to some friends, packed a bag, and moved back to the Island. 

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offshore wind industry provides new opps for students

Assistant professor of the practice Rosemary Ostfeld and students from ENVS344 Renewable Energy on a field trip to the Block Island Wind Farm last spring.

From the shores of Block Island, Rhode Island, the United States’s first commercial wind farm can be seen on the horizon. The Block Island Wind Farm is comprised of five turbines that tower over the deep blue waters. Deepwater Wind LLC constructed the 30-MW project which became operational in 2016. Ørsted, Denmark’s largest energy company and world-leader in offshore wind, acquired Deepwater Wind LLC in 2018.

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intro to enviro studies students serve the community

Students from Visiting Assistant Professor Kate Miller’s Introduction to Environmental Studies/ENVS197 course participated in two local service events as part of the class this semester: the Source to Sea Clean-Up, organized by the CT River Conservancy, and the roll-out of a Food Waste Collection Pilot Project, sponsored by the City of Middletown’s Department of Public Works and Recycling Program. 

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studying the past to inform the future

Kelly Fenton-Samuels

Every year, the COE awards fellowships to fund summer research opportunities for Wesleyan students across all majors and class years. Chemistry and earth & environmental science major Kelly Fenton-Samuels ’23 spent the summer working with Professor Suzanne O’Connell, studying Antarctic ocean floor sediment core samples dating back to the Pliocene Epoch.

This summer, I had the opportunity to work in Professor O’Connell’s lab, studying Antarctic marine sediment cores collected by the International Ocean Discovery Program. Specifically, my summer research project utilized deep sea sediments dating back 2.4 million years to reveal Antarctic climate changes during that time. I began researching with Professor O’Connell a year ago, after reaching out to her to discuss the work conducted in her lab. Her work both on Antarctic paleoclimate and on communicating climate science to a general audience aligns strongly with my interest in using climate change research to further climate justice.

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coe receives $2m for security, justice, sustainability

Barry Chernoff, Schumann FoundationThe Robert F. Schumann Foundation has generously awarded the College of the Environment (COE) a 5-year, $2-million grant to focus on the areas of food security, environmental justice, and sustainability. The Schumann Institute of the COE will be adding new positions to enhance teaching, research, and community engagement; building a network of local community organizations that specialize in the areas of food security, environmental justice, and sustainability; providing opportunities for Wesleyan environmental studies students to work with these organizations to help their efforts; and creating a “pipeline” of professional training for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors of the practice so that they will have the skills and knowledge needed to contribute importantly when they leave Wesleyan. Enhanced courses; student immersion in community engagement projects; student internships; campus and community seminars, symposia, and workshops; scholarly output on environmental issues; and other related activities will all be supported with the grant.

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think tank explores radical environments

COE Think Tank 2023-24Each academic year, the COE invites a small group of Wesleyan faculty and undergrads plus a noted outside scholar to join together in a yearlong discussion on a critical environmental issue. The Think Tank features a new theme, and new fellows, each year. This year’s COE Think Tank features (from top left) faculty fellows Raquel Bryant, assistant professor of environmental sciences; Marguerite Nguyen, associate professor of English; Anu (Aradhana) Sharma, associate professor of anthropology; LaToya Eaves, Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar; and Justin Hosbey (not pictured), Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar, who will explore the theme of “Radical Environments: Living Justice, Imagining Futures,” with outside scholars and student fellows to be named.

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rader ’23 explores resilience in culebra

Every year, the COE awards fellowships to fund summer research opportunities for Wesleyan students across all majors and class years. Joel Rader ’23 is a film and environmental studies major who spent summer 2022 investigating how resilience has been “seeded” within the social-ecological system of the island of Culebra, Puerto, Rico, in the wake of the devastation wrought by hurricanes Irma and Maria. To view Joel’s amazing fellowship project website, click here!

Tell us about your summer research project!
My project explored the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico, as a Social-Ecological System (SES), including the integral contributions to SES resilience made by small business owners, activists, scientists, and environmentalists. The project focuses in particular on the significant work that the nonprofit organization Sociedad Ambiente Marino (SAM) does toward resilience efforts in Culebra.  SAM’s efforts are not just important for the Culebra SES itself, but could be a replicable model for other island communities throughout the Caribbean that are among the most exposed to climate change impacts today. Among SAM’s important current projects is the restoration of endangered coral species that are important to this region of the Caribbean.

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danieu ’23 researches air in artistic practice

Ava DanieuEvery year, the COE awards fellowships to fund summer research opportunities for Wesleyan students across all majors and class years. English major Ava Danieu ’23 spent the summer as a research assistant for Professor Claire Grace, who is exploring the status of air in 1960s artistic practice.

Tell us about your summer research project!
These past few months, I’ve been a research assistant for Claire Grace, associate professor of art history, who is exploring the status of air in 1960s artistic practice. I contribute to the project by providing contextual information that includes historical news coverage of air pollution in Los Angeles, the United States military’s use of air delivered chemicals in the Vietnam War, and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Beyond reviewing archival sources to find media coverage, I compile reading lists concerning historical accounts of the Clean Air Act and information on specific firework companies active in the Los Angeles region in the 1960s.

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think tank explores ways to visualize environmental change

COE Think Tank
2021-22 Think Tank members, from top left: Olivia Baglieri ’22, Dylan Judd ’22, Jennifer Raynor, Skye Hawthorne ’22, Alton C. Byers, Helen Poulos, Suzanne O’Connell, Courtney Fullilove, Antonio Machado-Allison.

Each academic year, the COE gathers a small group of Wesleyan faculty members, a scholar of prominence from outside Wesleyan, and undergraduate students into a year-long academic think tank on a critical environmental issue. The aim of the COE 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. The Think Tank theme for 2021-22 is visualizing environmental change.

Our 2021-22 COE Think Tank faculty fellows are: Suzanne O’Connell, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science; Jennifer Raynor, assistant professor of economics; Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history; Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies; Antonio Machado-Allison, university professor in the College of the Environment; and Alton C. Byers, senior research scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTARR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder and this year’s Menakka and Essel Bailey ‘66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment. Olivia Baglieri ’22, Dylan Judd ’22, and Skye Hawthorne ’22 will also be joining the Think Tank as student fellows this academic year.

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green news is good news

Read below for all the good green news that’s fit to print!

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ostrow ’26 reports from cop27

Isaac OstrowIsaac Ostrow ’26 recently returned from Egypt, where he met with international climate activists and attended the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27), thanks to support from sources that included the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment.

From Isaac: Thank you to my generous supporters, Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment and Temple Isaiah, for making this opportunity a reality. The views I express here are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement (JYCM), Hazon, Wesleyan University and/or its College of the Environment, Temple Isaiah, or any other individual, group, or entity.

Hello to all of those following my journey!

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join us for pumpkin fest 2022!

Saturday, October 29, 2022 (rain date 10/30)
noon to 4 pm
Long Lane Farm
Middletown, CT
FREE and open to the public!
🎃 Join us on Saturday, October 29, 2022, from noon to 4 pm at Long Lane Farm for FREE veggie burgers and hot cider, FREE music, homemade baked goods and crafts for sale, activities for the kids, and much more! This vaccine-only event is FREE and open to the public.

If you are interested in selling or running a table (i.e. for a club) at this kid-friendly festival this year,  please fill out the form here by October 12th!