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Symposium Day Jan. 23: Nature and Human Nature

January  17, 2013

Environmental scholar Molly Steinwald will give the keynote address twice, at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in Centennial Hall. Her lecture, titled “What’s Your Environmental Role? Go Find It,” will address sustainability and pressing environmental issues. Her lecture is the centerpiece of the second of three symposia days planned for the 2012-2013 academic year.

To take part in one of the off-campus experiential learning opportunities, students may sign up at the College Center on Monday, Jan. 21, and Tuesday, Jan. 22, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

  Students remaining on campus Students participating off-campus
9-9:45 a.m. Advising group discussions Advising group discussions
10-11 a.m. Keynote address I/ Session I Keynote address I
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Session II/ lunch break Lunch in Westerlin (on your meal plan)
12:30-1:30 p.m. Keynote address II/ Lunch break Volunteering
1:45-2:45 p.m. Session III Volunteering
3-3:45 p.m. Advising group discussions Advising group discussions


10-11 a.m. Session I

You are what you eat: Genetically modified food and its effect on human health and the environment

Dr. Sean Georgi, biology
Hanson Hall of Science, 304

Almost unknown to American consumers, an agricultural revolution has taken place over the past decade leading to an almost ubiquitous use of genetically modified corn and soy. While most other countries either ban or require this food to be labeled, American consumers generally have no idea that almost everything they eat is genetically modified. We will discuss the pros and cons of this technology, focusing on its effects (if any) on human health and the environment.

Place Matters: Environment, Inequality and Health in U.S. Neighborhoods

Dr. Carrie Hough, sociology, anthropology and social welfare
Olin Center for Educational Technology, auditorium

Why are our street addresses such good predictors of our long-term health status? This session will examine issues of social justice, inequality and health as they relate to our local environments. We will screen the film Place Matters (from the documentary series Unnatural Causes, 2008), discuss the factors that create unhealthy neighborhoods, and think about ways to improve health through environmental and structural change.

Buying Green: Making Choices About Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Tom Schaubroeck, director of purchasing
Dr. Laura Hartman, religion
Sponsored by the Sustainability Committee
Olin Center for Educational Technology, 105

In this hands-on session, students will learn what measures the college has been taking to buy "green" products and discuss the impact of environmentally preferable purchasing. Finally, students will help to research and offer advice for the creation of an environmentally preferable purchasing policy for the college.

Making Urban Growth Sustainable: Designing With Nature

Dr. Norm Moline, geography
John Deere Planetarium, lecture hall

By 2050 America will have about 100 million more people living in metropolitan areas. How can we accommodate that growth to make them livable places and to minimize harm to nature?

The Agrarian Music Educator

Dr. Michelle Crouch, music
Denkmann Memorial Building, Wallenberg Hall

This session will feel most immediately accessible by music and arts students, but others are very welcome. The seminar aims to make connections between healthy agrarian principles and responsible and sustainable practices of music education and music-making in society. The connections between "cultivation" and "culture" are actually quite profound.

Invasion of the landscape snatchers: the role of native vs. invasive species

Dr. Jason Koontz, biology
Carlsson-Evald Hall, 17-18

Why do people choose the plants they grow in their yards? We'll discuss this and other natural history questions related to native and non-native plants we encounter around us. We'll also preview a couple of apps for your smart phone!

Poetry and the Natural World

Farah Marklevits, English Department
Hanson Hall of Science, 109

"But the trees have risen one more time / and the night wind makes them sound" — M. S. Merwin. In this session, listen to faculty and library staff read poems that celebrate and urge us to right relationships with the natural world. Then, we will work together to transform discarded plastic grocery bags or other pieces of trash into poetry broadsides, or poetry posters. If you would like, please come to the session with a few lines from your favorite "nature" poem or song to print or stamp on a broadside.

Environmental Aesthetics in Islam

Imam Saad Baig and Dr. Cyrus Ali Zargar, religion
Hanson Hall of Science, 305

Two speakers will cover related topics:  “Islam and the Environment” and “The Image of Water in Islamicate Literatures.”

Thinking Nature and Human Nature through a WGST Lens

Dr. Araceli Mastersen-Algar, Spanish and women’s and gender studies
Dr. Umme Al-Wazedi, English and Women’s and women’s and gender studies
Dr. Chadia Chambers-Samadi, French 
Sarah Jean Kilker ’13
Hanson Hall of Science, 102

This session will provide a space to discuss and raise awareness on the ways in which nature is materially grounded, and as such tied to hierarchies of class, gender and race that work their way globally, but manifest through specific local experiences. Women’s extensive experience makes them an invaluable source of knowledge and expertise on environmental management and appropriate actions. While women’s environmental contributions offer an incentive for a thorough analysis of gender, there is a broader perspective as well. Gender equality and equity are not only a question of fundamental human rights and social justice, but are also instrumental, and a precondition, for environmental conservation, sustainable development and human security.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Asbestos, Clay, and Quartz Environmental & Health Mineralogy

Dr. Michael Wolf, geology
Swenson Hall of Geosciences, 106

"Asbestos" is really a group of minerals that have been used for millenia because of their useful material properties. Lumped together as "asbestos," they have received a bad rap recently as a serious cancer-causing agent, but most are benign. Clays are an almost ubiquitous industrial material (e.g., used in make-up, cattle feed, iron & paper manufacturing...), but they also cause billions of dollars worth of damage each year to roads and building foundations. Quartz is one of the most common minerals at the Earth's surface but has been classified as a carcinogen! We'll discuss the mineralogy of these materials and relate them to environmental and health issues. No previous knowledge of mineralogy is necessary to learn about the wonders and dangers of the mineral world.

11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Session II

Green, Brown, Right, and Wrong: Environmental Ethics

Dr. Laura Hartman, religion
Hanson Hall of Science, 304

How do we know what is right and wrong, when it comes to environmental issues? How do we weigh the needs of humans against the needs of other creatures? Environmental ethics involves some tricky, wicked problems, and solving them requires the best thinking we can muster. Come be a part of the solution as we wrestle with the big issues underlying our environmental ills.

A Canticle for Leopold

Dr. Bohdan Dziadyk, biology
Olin Center for Educational Technology, 201

The influence of Aldo Leopold in conservation issues is deep and extensive, but perhaps his most important contribution was the book, "A Sand County Almanac," in which his central ideas are elucidated. How did this simple man from Iowa make such a lasting impact?

Green Renovation: Environmentally Sustainable Features of the Center for Student Life

John Whitlock, BLDD architect
Kent Barnds, vice president of enrollment, communication & planning
Session sponsored by the Sustainability Committee
Hanson Hall of Science, 305

We’re all aware of the construction on campus — the relocations, the noise, the bustle, the inconveniences — but what do you know about the green building features of the Center for Student Life? What goes into a LEED silver construction project anyway? Hear about the sustainable and efficient features of the CSL, from pipes and plumbing to lighting, flooring and furniture, from an architect involved in these decisions.

And the LORD God Made An ... Earthling?: The Bible and the Environment

Dr. Kelly Murphy, religion
Denkmann Memorial Building, Wallenberg Hall

Are humans supposed to "have dominion" over the earth or to "to till and to keep" it? This session will ask questions about what the Bible has to say about the environment and human responsibility for the Earth, and will briefly explore how various biblical texts — from the creation stories to apocalyptic literature — have been invoked in ecological debates.

Geothermal Heating Applications for Augustana

Dr. Jeff Strasser, geology, and Kirk Mescher, CM Engineering.        
Olin Center for Educational Technology, 304
Session sponsored by the Sustainability Committee

Kirk Mescher of  CM Engineering in Columbia, Mo., will join the session remotely to discuss large-scale geothermal systems he has developed and implemented. Could such a system be applicable to Augustana? Come to the session to find out.

Racing for the Cause: Uncovering the Toxic Origins of Breast Cancer
Note: This is an extended session, 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

Dr. Jane Simonsen, history and women’s and gender studies
Olin Center for Educational Technology, auditorium

While many groups have played a crucial role in raising awareness of breast cancer and early detection, fewer are asking the question of how breast cancer is linked to environmental contamination. The film follows seven women as they ask questions of biologists, biochemists, nutritionists, surgeons, and environmentalists, and more. We'll follow the film with a brief discussion.

Bike Care Workshop

Phil Maess, Bike & Hike
Session sponsored by Global Affect                                                 
Hanson Hall of Science, 109

Riding a bicycle is good for the environment! Interested in biking but not sure how to get started? Experienced biker who wants to learn more? Phil Maess of Bike & Hike in Rock Island will demonstrate basic bike care and repair, and discuss cycling in the Quad Cities. Those who attend will be entered to win a special prize.

Solving the Global Energy/Climate Change Sustainability Challenge

Dr. Michael Reisner, director, Upper Mississippi Studies Center              
Hanson Hall of Science, 102

The session will start by examining the critical role that providing access to modern energy must play in reducing global poverty and ensuring sustainable levels of development to improve human well being. Second, the seminar will examine the best available science from the natural and social sciences on the scale and urgency of the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. Finally, the seminar will highlight the key transformations of the energy system and progress on related strategies necessary to simultaneously solve the climate change/sustainability challenge.

Paddling the Chicago River: A Good Way to Think about Science, Art, Ethics, and the Sustainability of Cities

Dr. Michael Bryson, humanities and sustainability studies, Roosevelt University. 
Carlsson-Evald Hall, 17-18

The degraded yet undeniably charismatic urban waterway, the Chicago River, is a fine place to contemplate the tangled relationships among water quality, land use, and sustainability within cities and suburbs. As a site for exploring urban nature, an object of analysis in the scientific assessment of water quality and urban ecology, and a case-study in landscape aesthetics, the Chicago River provides students and citizens myriad opportunities to develop a sense of place. More generally, experiencing urban rivers — and understanding their function within the complex watersheds of metropolitan regions — can foster ecological literacy and ethical engagement with one’s community.

1:45-2:45 p.m. Session III

Sustainable Agriculture: Ethical, Ecological and Economic Perspectives

Dr. Dan Lee, religion, Stephanie Fuhr, biology, and Dr. Chris Marmé, economics
Session sponsored by the Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics
Denkmann Memorial Building, Wallenberg Hall

Extensive agricultural use of artificial fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and antibiotics has contributed significantly to huge increases in production and low food costs but has resulted in significant environmental problems such as ground and surface water contamination and the increased incidence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The sustainable agriculture movement is making progress in counteracting the undesirable side-effects of the productivity revolution by encouraging farming methods that reduce the use of chemicals and protect the environment and health.

Anthropocentrism vs. Capitalism: Identifying the Roots of Today's Environmental Crisis

Augustana Debate Union
Olin Center for Educational Technology, 209

This public debate will examine the role of ideology in the production of environmental crisis. Specifically, is environmental crisis generated by modern materialism and its consumerist imperative or rather our assumption of human self-importance at the risk of denying the intrinsic value of nature? Members of the ADU will present evidence for both sides, followed by a discussion.

Augie animals chillin' out: A walking tour!

Dr. Tim Muir, biology
Carlsson-Evald Hall, 17-18

Take a campus walking tour and explore the Augie environments that are home to a diverse group of animals in winter. How do animals survive the long cold northern winter? Dress for the weather and find out!

Sustaining Environmental and Human Diversity: Cooperation or Competition?
Note: extended session 1:15-2:45 p.m.

Dr. Jennifer Burnham, geography and polar studies
Dr. Adam Kaul, sociology, anthropology, and social welfare
Session sponsored by the Center for Polar Studies
Olin Center for Educational Technology, auditorium

We often characterize human society as if it is in competition with the environment, but is this necessarily the case? This session will explore a case study in which indigenous people in Nunavut, Canada, work with ecologists to study the impacts of climate change. Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge work hand-in-hand to arrive at solutions for sustaining environmental diversity and to maintain the diversity of indigenous cultures. In this two-part session, we will offer a screening of the film People of a Feather. Afterward, we will host a discussion about the issues raised in the film.

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Consumerism on Developing Countries

Dr. Mindi Mull and Dr. Jayne Rose, psychology
Hanson Hall of Science, 304

In this session, we will watch a brief video entitled The Story of Stuff, which portrays the way we make, use, and throw away "stuff." We will then discuss our reactions to the video, as well as the implications for developing countries, where much of our stuff is made and ends up after we throw it away.

Worms in your TLA? Small scale composting options

Elizabeth Russell.
Session sponsored by the Sustainability Committee
Hanson Hall of Science, 109

Want to learn how to compost, in a small-scale indoor way? Worm composting doesn't stink and is compact and easy to maintain. Learn from Elizabeth Russell how worms eat up kitchen scraps and excrete the essence of good soil. You don't have to throw away that apple core (where it will decompose into methane, a greenhouse gas, and remain mummified in a landfill for eternity). Return it to the earth using the magic of composting.

Sustainability Through Art
Note: Session requires advanced registration

Art Department Faculty
Art Studio

The session will begin with a discussion of the value of conserving resources, and we will next consider the use of design symbolism in conveying messages in various cultures. Then all participants will design and create block printed door hangers which will each feature a central message: "Did you remember to turn off the lights?"  We will offer these door hangers campus wide for offices and classrooms.

Living Green at Augie: Tips and Strategies from Students

Members of Global Affect
Hanson Hall of Science, 305

How can we lower our impact on the planet when we're at college? From food choices to transportation options, from paper use to energy conservation, students will discuss their strategies for green living on campus. Yes, we will discuss no-shower week! Bring your own ideas to share, and come ready to be inspired about ways to make a difference!

Join the movement: Save the Mississippi River

Mike Coyne-Logan, Living Lands and Waters; Natalie Linville-Mass, Media Link Inc.; Dr. Nadia Novatorova, business
Hanson Hall of Science, 102

503 tons of metal, 55,752 bags of trash, 9 motorcycles — only 1 river. 12,332 balls. 1,098 propane tanks, 48 messages in bottles — only 1 river. How can you help? Come to our concurrent session to find out.

Off-campus experiential learning opportunities
(advanced registration required)

To take part in one of the off-campus experiential learning opportunities, students may sign up at the College Center on Monday, Jan. 21, and Tuesday, Jan. 22, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

Local Culture House Hydroponics – Twelve students are needed to help install a hydroponics system in the Local Culture House basement so that Augie students can grow vegetables even in the cold of winter.

Quad City Botanical Center — Approximately 15 students will do gardening activities, maintenance, and marketing tasks.

River Action — Thirty students are invited to tour Nahant Marsh, a Quad Cities treasure, with Kathy Wine, River Action’s director. 

Black Hawk Park — Approximately 80 students are needed to help prepare the woods for a controlled burn.

Recycling canvassing — Students will disperse on foot in 12 groups of three to distribute recycling information door to door in a Rock Island neighborhood.     

Water Treatment Plant — Twenty students can tour Rock Island’s water treatment facility

Partners of Scott County Watersheds — Fifteen volunteers will learn about storm water management and the benefits of rain gardens. Then volunteers will help cut and remove invasive woody vegetation from the rain gardens in front of North High School in Davenport.

Nature and Human Nature Symposium Day is sponsored by the Institute for Leadership and Service.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833