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Skidmore College
Environmental Studies and Sciences

2002 - 2003

A Meeting of Northeast Colleges for Climate Action

The ES Program at Skidmore College, in cooperation with Clean Air-Cool Planet, sponsored A Meeting of Northeast Campuses for Climate Action. Faculty members and students engaged in environmental studies were invited to attend this weekend conference aimed at creating a consortium of higher education institutions to facilitate reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions on campus. Keynote speakers included Ross Gelbspan, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, and Dr. Bill Moomaw, expert on international climate policy and founder of Tufts Climate Initiative. In addition, Jon Coifman, Communications Director for the NRDC Climate Center, shared an informative power point presentation.

ES Welcoming Reception

All students, staff, faculty, and parents interested in the Environmental Studies (ES) Program or environmental issues in general were invited. ES faculty and students were on hand to answer questions about our new ES major and ES minor, there were poster displays of ES Summer Collaborative Research projects, and local organizations, such as the Sierra Club, were present to talk about volunteer and internship opportunities.

Multidisciplinary Colloquium
Globalized China: Implications for Energy, the Environment, and Women

Kelly Sims Gallagher
Harvard University researcher

Skidmore's multidisciplinary programs--Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, International Affairs, Law and Society, Liberal Studies, and Women’s Studies-- combined resources to focus on high-quality events that would appeal to a wide range of student, faculty, and staff interests. This year’s theme was “Gender, Globalization, and the Environment.”

Ecojustice Lecture

Larry Rasmussen
Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in NY

Dr. Larry Rasmussen offered a multimedia lecture on the topic of "Religion and Ecology," looking at how varied communities of faith across the globe have integrated their religion with the environment where they live.

Mao's War Against Nature: Environmental Degradation and Political Repression in China

Professor Judith Shapiro
Co-director, Environmental Policy MA Program, American University

During the turbulent social and political upheaval that marked the period of Mao Zedong’s leadership, the abuse of nature and the abuse of human beings were closely linked. Under Mao, the traditional Chinese ideal of Harmony between the Heavens and Humankind was cast aside in favor of Mao’s insistence that Man Must Conquer Nature. The devastating environmental and human costs of this period offer much instruction on the dangers of treating nature as an adversary. In this talk, Judith Shapiro traced the environmental mismanagement, political persecution of Chinese intellectuals and ill-planned agricultural and industrial schemes that resulted in flooding, pollution, deforestation, famine and forcible relocation of millions of Chinese. Professor Shapiro draws broad-ranging lessons for environmental sustainability and explores how the legacy of the Mao period continues to cloud China’s efforts to resolve its severe environmental problems.

Professor Judith Shapiro has written extensively on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and freedom of expression issues and is co-author, with Liang Heng, of several books on China, including Son of the Revolution (Random House, 1984) and After the Nightmare (Knopf, 1986). Most recently, she is the author of Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

This event was co-sponsored by the Luce Speakers Series Fund, the Environmental Studies Program, the International Affairs Program, the Departments of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, and History.

A Naturalist's Art Opening Talk and Reception

Sue Van Hook, Senior Teaching Associate, Biology
Kara Cummings, class of 2002

Sue van Hook presented a half hour talk about Skidmore's North Woods to officially open the exhibit of A Naturalist's Art: Wildflowers of Skidmore's North Woods. Monica Raveret-Richter of the Biology Department also spoke briefly, and painting artist/guide book author Kara Cummings attended as the guest of honor. A reception was held in the Pohndorff Room to coincide with the talk.

Environmental Job Panel

The Environmental Studies Program hosted an environmental job panel including members from environmental nonprofit groups, consulting firms, law firms, and government agencies. They came to tell students about their organizations, what skills their organizations are looking for in potential employees, and what their work life is really like. This was a very casual discussion, with the first 30 minutes dedicated to panel member introductions, and the remaining hour driven by student questions. The panel was interesting to those already committed to pursuing an environmentally oriented career and informative for those who have just been entertaining the idea of a major or minor in environmental studies.

Panel members included:

  • Mark Schachner - Environmental Attorney
  • Linda White - National Park Service
  • Anne Reynolds - Environmental Advocates of New York
  • Marion Trieste - Trieste Associates
  • David Haight - American Farmland Trust
  • Tim Tear - Nature Conservancy

"Who Really Came to America First? Stories of American Prehistory and National Origin Myths."

Annette Kolodny, political activist for civil and women's rights, and leader in the environmental movement.

An examination of seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and early-nineteenth- century speculations on the prehistory of North America and its Indian people -- and the way these pseudo-scientific speculations were used politically to foment the American Revolution and, later, genocidal Indian policy. Well known for her work in American Studies/Literature and feminist theory, Annette Kolodny is now retired from the University of Arizona, where she was Dean of Arts and Sciences. She is the author of The Lay of the Land: Metaphor as Experience and History in American Life, and Letters -and- The Land Before Her: Fantasy and Experience of the American Frontier, 1630-1860. Co-sponsored by the offices of the President, the Dean of the Faculty, and the Director of Diversity and Affirmative Action; the departments of English and Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work; Honors Forum; Liberal Studies; Environmental Studies; Women's Studies.

Fengshui Forests and Biodiversity in China: A Cultural Geography Approach

Professor Chris Coggins (Cultural Geographer, Simon’s Rock College of Bard)
Author of The Tiger and the Pangolin: Nature, Culture, and Conservation in China (University of Hawaii Press, 2002).

A public lecture and slide show co-sponsored by the ES Program and Luce Asian Studies Speakers’ Series:

In countless villages of Southern China, sacred forests or individual sacred trees grace the landscape. Known as fengshui (wind-water) forests or fengshui trees, they are protected by ancient custom as a critical component of village landscape and cosmology. This presentation describes the cultural and ecological characteristics of village fengshui forests, groves, and trees in Hong Kong and Fujian. How do sacred forests figure in local ideology? Are there different types of sacred forests as defined by local lore and by science? Which species are protected and why? How do villagers manage the forests today and how might this differ from past management practices? How did the forests survive periods of political upheaval and ecological destruction? Are sacred forests surviving the unprecedented environmental degradation associated with an expanding capitalist economy? How do sacred forests contribute to the quality of wildlife habitat and biodiversity? And how do fengshui forests differ from sacred forests found in other culture regions of China, specifically Tibet and southern Yunnan?