mountaineer byers joins coe as visiting bailey prof

Alton Byers, above the Imja Glacial Lake in the Mt. Everest region.

Alton C. Byers, Ph.D. is a mountain geographer, conservationist, and mountaineer specializing in applied research, high-altitude ecosystems, climate change, glacier hazards, and integrated conservation and development programs. He is a senior research affiliate at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the 2021-22 Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment. 

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economist raynor joins coe faculty

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. 

Jennifer Raynor is assistant professor of economics at Wesleyan. Her research focuses on natural resource management, with an emphasis on measuring the unintended consequences of rules and regulations.  In fall 2021, she is teaching ECON210/Climate Change Econ and Policy. She joined the faculty of the COE in spring 2021. 

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where on earth are we going: examining glacier-related flood events

The development of glacial lakes from receding glaciers, contained by either terminal moraines or bedrock, is commonly linked with global warming trends that have occurred since the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA). Such lakes are prone to sudden and catastrophic drainage, popularly known as glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF). Although GLOFs continue to dominate the focus of both peer reviewed and popular media articles alike, a range of other cryospheric processes and hazards exist that are in need of further research attention and mitigation technologies.

Join Alton C. Byers, PhD, the 2021-22 Menakka and Essel Bailey ’66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment and a member of our 2021-22 COE Think Tank, for Recent Glacier-Related Flood Events in High Mountain Environments, a multimedia discussion of englacial conduit floods, periodic and recurrent flooding of lakes created by glacier- or ice-dammed lakes, permafrost-linked rockfall and debris flows, and earthquake-linked glacier floods. This event is the latest in the COE’s annual Where on Earth Are We Going? seminar series, sponsored by the Robert F. Schumann Institute of the College of the Environment. The event is a direct tie-in with this year’s COE Think Tank theme of visualizing environmental change.

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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, Jennifer Raynor, Skye Hawthorne, 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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how to think like an afrofuturist with ingrid lafleur

Ingrid LaFleurOn April 17, 2021, the College of the Environment welcomed Ingrid LaFleur for her lecture “How to Think LIke an Afrofuturist.” LaFleur is the founder of The Afrofuturist Strategies Institute (TASI) and a globally recognized curator, design innovationist, pleasure activist, and Afrofuturist committed to exploring and implementing forward-thinking solutions across multidisciplinary industries including but not limited to art, technology, education, social enterprise, and finance. Her extended biography can be read on her website.

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near-earth space with moriba jah

On April 5, 2021, the College of the Environment welcomed Moriba Jah, associate professor at The University of Texas at Austin, to present his lecture Near-Earth Space: The Lost Ecological Pleiad. The Earth has a number of ecosystems we can call an ecological Pleiades. To date, these ecological Pleiades have been constrained to the land, oceans, and air. However, there is an additional ecosystem, near-Earth space, which has yet to be globally acknowledged. To this end, Jah’s lecture focused on near-Earth space as a “lost” ecological Pleiad, comprised of “some abiotic objects such as micrometeoroids, a few humans in the Space Station, and a large number of anthropogenic space objects as a consequence of our technological developments.” In his lecture, Jah explored the known evolution of this Lost Pleiad, and underscored the need for its environmental protection.

Jah opened the lecture by giving context to the sheer number of human-made objects in Earth’s orbit. The assumed population of space objects is roughly half a million, ranging in size from a speck of paint to the International Space Station. Jah stressed that of that assumed half million, we can only measure about 30,000, and the total space population is unmeasurable with the precision of current instruments. He also noted that out of those potential 500,000 objects, only 3,500 are functioning, saying, “Much less than 1 percent of everything up there that we’re responsible for actually serves a purpose.”

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