The COE shares faculty from across departments and programs at Wesleyan, including government, history, art, dance, computer science, English, philosophy, environmental science, biology, African American studies, physics, classical studies, chemistry, Science in Society, theater, religion, economics, archaeology, and more. Kim Diver is an associate professor of the practice in earth and environmental sciences here at Wesleyan and the founder and director of WesGIS. Her research focuses on island biogeography.
First-year students enrolled in ENVS125F/Community Gardening, taught by Rosemary Ostfeld ’02, assistant visiting professor of environmental studies, in spring 2021, became University of Connecticut Certified Master Gardeners this fall, thanks to a partnership by the College of the Environment, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, and the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program.
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.
A conversation with Professor Michael Singer, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies, about his Fall 2019 course BIOL 220/ENVS220: Conservation Biology. The course is a broad introduction to the interdisciplinary, science-based field of conservation biology. While the course includes aspects of economics, politics, ethics, and other fields, it focuses on the biological part of conservation. Much of this biology is ecology, which is Singer’s specialty. At left: BIOL220/ENVS220 students and visitor Dr. Paul Spitzer on a field trip earlier this semester.
This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of sitting in on a brand-new College of the Environment class, ENVS282: Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. Taught by Dr. Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, the class focuses on the techniques and strategies that can be employed to make our farms and supply chains more sustainable, as well as exploring the effects of our consumption habits on the environment.
From left: Elizabeth Roff, Andres Arango, Harper Gambill, Randy Tyng, Mike Eustace, Kush Puri, Stephen Philipps, Kaitlyn McMullan, Rosemary Ostfeld, Deborah Eaddy, Samuel Peek, Olivia Weiss, Joe DeLollo, Drew Burnett, Leo Clibanoff, Noah Cohen.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies (and Wes alum) Rosemary Ostfeld, PhD ’10 and her students from ENVS344 / Renewable Energy and Negative Emission Technologies joined with members of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) on a visit the state capitol in Hartford earlier this month. Environmental studies majors in the group included Caroline Sgaglione ’19, Catherine Xi ’21 & Maggie Humphrey ’21. While there, Ostfeld and her students discussed renewables, green technologies, and the importance of making the environment a priority with State Reps Michael Winkler & Quentin Phipps and fellow Wesleyan University alums State Senator Matthew Lesser ’08 and State Rep Mike Demicco ’80.
Six students in Barry Chernoff’s ENVS197 (Introduction to Environmental Studies) course worked side-by-side with members of Wesleyan’s Physical Plant this semester, as part of a collaborative project with Forklift Danceworks, an organization that employs performance to activate communities through a collaborative creative process. The Austin-based organization was founded by choreographer Allison Orr, a former Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar here at the COE, who lead the project, with help from Forlift’s assistant choreographer Gretchen LaMotte ’18.