Ramapo Green

Institute of Environmental Studies

Institute of Environmental Studies

The Institute was created in 1984 to facilitate faculty research, hold conferences and other events, and to foster efforts to make the campus sustainable. The IES managed a four-year project in the 1990s funded by the U.S. Department of Education to green Ramapo’s curriculum. It also held four large scale regional sustainability conferences. The IES developed and was the original host for the New Jersey Higher Education Partnership for Sustainability (NJHEPS).

The Institute was chaired by Professor Michael Edelstein, Ph.D. In recent years, the Institute faculty have shepherded the development of the new Ramapo College Sharp Sustainability Education Center.

Archived Spring 2012 Programs

A series of six presentations at Ramapo College of New Jersey in spring term 2012
Creating a Sustainable World: Voices of Key Practitioners

Sponsored by
MASS: Masters of Arts in Sustainability Studies

PROGRAM ONE

February 9, 2012 6-7:30 P.M.
SC 219 Friends Hall, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Empowering Women as a Prerequisite
for Global Peace and Sustainable Development

Carla Sunshine Koppell

A sustainable world requires peace and prosperity. And a prerequisite for sustained peace and prosperity is gender equality and women’s empowerment. The issue is not simply a question of human rights and women’s rights. Rather, it reflects recognition that women bring different skills, perspectives and relationships to the table, changing dynamics and raising new ideas and approaches to addressing the needs of today’s families and communities while asserting the rights of future generations. New perspectives are needed to meet emerging security threats like global climate change, diminished food and water supplies and resource-driven violence and conflict.

About the speaker:
Carla Koppell, who holds a Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, is Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment and Senior Advisor to the Administrator at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the foreign assistance arm of the US Federal Government. Her role is to focus US development assistance on fostering gender equality and women’s empowerment globally. Koppell previously directed The Institute for Inclusive Security and the Washington, DC office of Hunt Alternatives Fund, where she worked to involve women and civil society in peace processes around the world, and most specifically in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sudan. Earlier positions included heading the Conflict Prevention Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, where she authored “Preventing the Next Wave of Conflict: Understanding Non-Traditional Threats to Global Stability.”  She also served as deputy assistant secretary for international affairs of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, as special assistant to the administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and director of the USAID climate change program. Earlier in her career she worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

For Information:

Contact Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, medelste@ramapo.edu

Please note that off-campus visitors will require a parking permit obtainable at the security booth at the north entrance. Advance requests to Dr. Edelstein will allow permits to be ready for your pickup.


PROGRAM TWO

Program Two: February 23, 2012 6-7:30 P.M.
H129 Auditorium Hall, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Ecological Stewardship:
Empowering Communities to Protect the Commons

Michael W. Klemens, Ph.D.

Acclaimed ecologist Michael Klemens has long practiced mutual learning between community and scientists that integrates local knowledge with expert investigation and empowers informed communities to become good stewards. This approach serves as a basis for sustainable action that focuses on how to improve ecosystem resilience to adapt to changed conditions brought on by development activity and climate change. To improve that resilience, we must learn how to make our ecological footstep lighter and more intelligent. The challenge is to inform and motivate the community to become active stewards of the commons. Most urgently, it is a process of social learning that informs and improves the quality of local decision making confronted with continued pressure for development.

About the speaker:
Michael W. Klemens received his doctorate in conservation biology and ecology at the University of Kent UK and has worked as Senior Conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society as well as with the American Museum of Natural History. Twenty years of herpetological research in the U.S. and Africa led to the epiphany that the approach used in Africa to promote conservation were just as necessary here to bridge the gap between conservation science and land use planning. To this end, Klemens founded the Metropolitan Conservation Alliance to translate biological data and conservation concepts into planning tools for local and regional application. He strongly advocates that scientists have a responsibility to actively engage in conservation efforts. He has chaired a local planning commission for more than a decade. MCA’s work throughout New York and New Jersey pioneered collaborative ecosystem survey approaches involving scientists and local board members.  Klemens books included the co-edited Nature in Fragments: The Legacy of Sprawl Columbia University Press.

For Information:
Contact Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, medelste@ramapo.edu. Please note that off-campus visitors will require a parking permit obtainable at the security booth at the north entrance. Advance requests to Dr. Edelstein will allow permits to be ready for your pickup.


PROGRAM THREE

Transitioning to a Sustainable Food System

Fred Kirschenmann, Ph.D.
March 8, 2012 6-7:30 P.M.
Friends Hall SC219, Ramapo College of New Jersey

As we undertake the urgent transformation to sustainable agriculture, we discover that the major challenge of reinventing our entire food system is not missing know how but rather the lost connection between people and the land. The process of invention and reconnection that we undertake must not only link farm and city, but rural and urban communities as well. From their collaboration will emerge a mode of agriculture that is local, sustainable and responsible, as well as highly resilient in the face of ecological, economic and social challenges.

About the speaker:
Fred Kirschenmann, a longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture, is Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Iowa. In January 2008 he accepted a half-time appointment as President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York, in order to explore ways that rural and urban communities can work together to develop a more resilient, sustainable agriculture and food system. He continues to manage his family’s 2,600-acre certified farm in south central North Dakota that he transformed to organic production in the early 1970s. A Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, he taught in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at University of Iowa before becoming professor Emeritus of Sustainable Agriculture. He has written prolifically on ethics and agriculture, including his Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher (University of Kentucky, 2010) and his contribution to the essay collection Farm Aid: a Song for America (2005). He has served on many government and civil society boards and received numerous awards.

For Information:
Contact Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, medelste@ramapo.edu. Please note that off-campus visitors will require a parking permit obtainable at the security booth at the north entrance. Advance requests to Dr. Edelstein will allow permits to be ready for your pickup.


PROGRAM FOUR

An Ecology of Mind:
A Daughter’s Portrait of Gregory Bateson

Film and discussion
Nora Bateson
March 29, 2012 6 P.M.
Friends Hall SC219, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Gregory Bateson was a father of ecological consciousness and the interdisciplinary approach to learning. Integrating the systems revolution that had transformed fundamental understanding of organization, the holism of Gestalt psychology, and the close connection of humans and nature found in rich cultures such as Bali, he was not only a dot connector, but a pattern seeker. And by looking at the whole picture, he discovered and illuminated underlying truths about human behavior as well as a method for learning to learn. He understood the human ramifications of self regulating and perpetually learning systems. And he clearly articulated this dilemma that continues to haunts us: if, in the real world, everything is connected, how can it be that humans think and act as if meaning resided only in isolated parts? Bateson decried our penchant for compartmentalization, isolating ourselves from others and separating people from nature and organizing knowledge in disciplines blind to whole patterns and context. His 1972 book Steps to an Ecology of Mind hit academia like a lightning bolt. Yet, assessing our condition forty years later, how readily we perpetuate the error of our ways. Perhaps it is time for lightening to strike again! Enter Nora Bateson and her highly acclaimed personal yet universal film.

About the speaker:
Nora Bateson is the younger of Gregory Bateson’s two daughters. Still a child when his death separated them, she was moved to find a way to reconnect both with her father as a person and as a visionary who touched so many. A Vancouver-based filmmaker, she created a documentary that works on both levels: reuniting child with father and also allowing her to explain his ideas to others. In making his ideas her own, the documentary reprises oral culture; the child repeats the elder’s story, thus passes it on herself. The documentary represents both the passing of the story and the baton.

For Information:
Contact Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, medelste@ramapo.edu. Please note that off-campus visitors will require a parking permit obtainable at the security booth at the north entrance. Advance requests to Dr. Edelstein will allow permits to be ready for your pickup.


PROGRAM FIVE

Materials Cycling, Green Jobs and the
Promise of Local Self Reliance

Neil Seldman
April 5, 2012 6 P.M.
Friends Hall SC219, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Sustainability takes root through civil society efforts informed by experience with communities of place. Problems may become opportunities at this local scale. The Institute for Local Self Reliance began with civic action in the Adams Morgan section of Washington D.C. nearly forty years ago before it began exporting lessons learned at home. ILSR’s distinctive approach empowers neighborhoods to solve problems in ways that make local sense, create green jobs and build community capacity and expertise. The result has been the emergence of new ideas that are wise, simple and viable. Take the case of ILSR’s work to replace waste management with materials cycling. Waste is the term we use for material we no longer want and disposal for the fictional expectation that wastes can be gotten rid of. Society expends significant resources on waste disposal with destructive results (pollution, illness, environmental degradation and creation of wastelands, high cost, the loss of the value of the discarded material and minimal employment is created). ILSR’s alternative approach based upon materials cycling avoids dirty disposal options while maximizing recovery of scarce resources and local economic benefit. With ILSR’s help, communities across the country have replaced waste management with materials cycling resulting in greater local self reliance and much needed green jobs.

About the speaker:
Neil Seldman, co-founder and president of the ILSR, is a model sustainability practitioner. With roots in industrial management and training in political theory and history of ideas, he offered a new approach to business drawn from the history of recycling. His focus is environmental entrepreneurialism, recycling-based economic development, joint ventures between community organizations and private firms, recycling-based business recruitment, local and regional assessments of recycling business opportunities, financing recycling businesses, and green jobs creation. Under him, ILSR has developed and implemented scores of policies, programs and enterprises to promote sustainable local use of raw materials. Because of his work, recycling and economic development have become standard planning tools. He was first to recognize the fiscal danger of waste incineration, organizing citizens, elected officials and small businesses owners to block them and open the door for more cost-effective and environmentally sound alternatives. Seldman has authored “The U.S. Recycling Movement 1945-95″ and “Wasting and Recycling in the United States 2000″ among scores of articles and reports.

For Information:
Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, medelste@ramapo.edu. Off-campus visitors will require a parking permit from the security booth at the north entrance. Advance requests to Dr. Edelstein will allow permits to be ready for your pickup.


PROGRAM SIX

“Advancing Consensus on Sustainability in Higher Education: from Curriculum to Climate”

Anthony Cortese
April 12, 2012   6 P.M.
SC 219 Friends Hall, Ramapo College of New Jersey

The task of constructing an institutional infrastructure for Sustainability is essential to the transformation to a sustainable society and for addressing emerging challenges to sustainability, most urgently global climate change. Institutions of higher education represent the best building blocks for rapid social change as model institutions able to create new information through research and to disseminate information directly through programs and outreach and indirectly by training next generations of leaders and doers. In this final program in our series, we examine this process of institutional development for sustainability with the help of its key architect.

About the speaker:
Anthony Cortese, President, Second Nature, is the mastermind of Sustainability in global higher education. As New England Regional EPA Administrator in the early 1980s, he introduced precautionary thinking based upon “the Natural Step.” Moving to Tufts University as Dean of Environmental Studies under legendary nutritionist President Jean Mayer, Cortese developed the first program to infuse ecological literacy into the broad university curriculum. He was the architect of the historic 1990 conference of University Presidents at Talloires, France and the resulting Talloires Declaration, the global agreement on sustainability as a platform for higher education practice and purpose.

Moving on to head a non-profit organization, Second Nature, Cortese has guided the global movement of sustainability in higher education. He has actively been involved in the creation of AASHE, the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education, development of a blueprint for Education for Sustainability (EFS) and promotion of national policy in support of sustainability. To unite the climate and sustainability movements, Cortese created the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), inviting University and College Presidents to join a consensual process of reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions from their institutions. To date, there are 674 signatories of ACUPCC, 1410 Greenhouse Gas Inventories submitted and 410 institutions with developed Climate Action Plans.

For Information:
Contact Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D. Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, medelste@ramapo.edu. Off-campus visitors will require a parking permit obtainable at the security booth at the north entrance. Advance requests to Dr. Edelstein will allow permits to be ready for your pickup.


IGNITING NEW JERSEY CLIMATE ACTION

April 12 and 13
Ramapo College of New Jersey

New Jersey took the lead on climate change with the 2007 Global Warming Response Act adopting the Kyoto Protocol targets of 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050. http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2006/Bills/PL07/112_.HTM

As a follow up to our 2007 conference and expo Green Meets Green: A Climate for Change, Igniting New Jersey Climate Action asks “How Are We Doing and What Do We Need to Do Better?”

April 12 6-8 p.m. Friends Hall

Key Note: Anthony Cortese. “Advancing Consensus on Sustainability in Higher Education: from Curriculum to Climate”

April 13 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friends Hall

Empowering Campus and Community Action on Climate in NJ:

Chair Anthony Cortese

10-12 a.m. Panel discussion. “How Are We Doing?” How is New Jersey doing to meet its obligations under the Global Climate Response Act to drop Greenhouse Gasses?

12-2 p.m. Campus Climate Report Out: Working lunch reporting out from campuses across New Jersey: roadblocks and circumventions. Response by Tony Cortese.

2-4 p.m. Power Shifting: What students and faculty can do to move a sustainable agenda on renewable energy and climate?

Archived 2011 Programs

October 27, 2011 – “Exchanging Lessons of the Aral Sea Disaster”

This full day conference is the result of an exchange program with Uzbek partners under a grant to the Ramapo College Institute for Environmental Studies from the Trust for Mutual Understanding.

The Aral Sea disaster has earned a prominent place among the worst known ecological, social and economic disasters. The virtual disappearance from the face of the earth of one of the largest inland seas caused irreparable damage to the local population, once dependent upon fishing and fish processing for their livelihood. As the disaster continues to unfold, a vast desert wasteland expands to replace the shrinking sea, resulting in blowing sands and altering the climate (it is becoming even hotter and drier). The blowing sands have spread salt and contamination across a wide swath of Central Asia.

When our team of Americans and Uzbeks began their search for the Aral Sea, we sought to track down not only the vestiges of the sea but the reasons for its disappearance and the potential for some kind of recovery. We thought we were looking for answers to our questions about only one major ecological disaster. Our bus trip across Uzbekistan in May/June 2011 indeed brought us to the abandoned boats at the dry bottom of what was not long ago the earth’s fourth largest inland body of water. And it led to some important insights about how the disaster occurred. We learned of no prospects for recovery, however, for the main Aral Sea in Uzbekistan. Adapting to the loss of the sea, Uzbek people in the Karakalpakstan region have placed their hope instead on oil and gas exploration under the now desertified, exposed sea bed.

Adding to the enormity of this ecological collapse, we learned that there are many Aral disasters, not just one.

Withdrawal of water from the two previously mighty rivers that fed naturally into the Aral Sea has caused a second disaster. Water intended for the Aral Sea was diverted to the irrigation of cotton and other crops grown in a semi-arid region that otherwise would not support agriculture, at least not this type of agriculture. The result is the loss of a thriving delta, the threat to ecosystems and species dependent upon them, and the ever diminishing waters available for supporting human life.

The rising of a now contaminated water table is a third widespread disaster. The distribution of irrigation water through unlined canals results in so much seepage that rising water tables bring massive amounts of salt to the surface, causing soil productivity to rapidly decline. So much salt and pesticide contaminate drinking water that people and animals are exposed to a daily health hazard.

The fourth disaster is global climate change, promising to make the region even drier and hotter. Moreover, the glacial melt that feeds the Amu and Syr rivers is now threatened, as warming causes the melt to accelerate. As a result, there are the contradictory potentials for intense flooding and dropping river levels. As upstream countries, including Afghanistan, divert increasing amounts of water, there is also the specter of regional water wars to come, promising yet a fifth layer of disaster. In short, the tragic sacrifice of the Aral Sea to the goal of rising agro-industrial output is but the tip of a melting iceberg.

“Exchanging Lessons of the Aral Sea Disaster” is an effort to explore these events as one interconnected ecological catastrophe.

Michael R. Edelstein, Ph.D., Director, Ramapo College Institute for Environmental Studies

Preliminary Schedule
SC219 Friends Hall

Session I. 9:45-11:15 am

The Multiple Disasters of the Aral Sea

Chair: Michael Edelstein, Ph.D. Ramapo College of New Jersey

Cameo Appearance: “The Issue of the Aral Sea Disaster”

Greetings and Overview from His Excellency Murad Askarov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Uzbekistan Ambassador to the United Nations

“The Multiple Aral Sea Disasters: An Introduction”

Michael Edelstein, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Psychology, Programs of Environmental Studies and Sustainability and Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“Deliberate Disaster and the Aral Dilemma

Michael (Mickey) Glantz, Ph.D. Director of the Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), Environmental Studies Program (ENVS) and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado Boulder

“The Aral Sea Disaster from an Uzbek Perspective”

Dr. Abror Gadaev, Professor of Environmental Science and Water Supply and Wastewater, Samarkand State Institute of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

“Modeling Natural and Anthropogenic Impacts on the Hydrology of the Aral Sea”

James Miller, Ph.D., Professor of Climate Modeling and Climate Change, Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University

Cameo Appearance: “What Happens When the Glaciers Melt?”

Tobias Siegfried, Hydrosolutions, LTD., Zurich, Switzerland University

Session II. 11:30-1:00 pm

American Analogs to the Aral Disaster

Chair: Howard Horowitz, Ph.D. Ramapo College of New Jersey.

“Deliberate Desertification: the Cases of the Salton Sea and Mono Lake, California”

Howard Horowitz, Ph.D. Professor of Geography and Convener, Environmental Studies Program, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“The Problems of Remediating Human Caused Disaster in the United States”

Eric Stern, Ph.D. Research Leader, Sediment Management, Battelle and Research Associate Professor – Department of Earth and Environmental Studies at Montclair State University

“Water and Environmental Injustice: the Case of San Xavier”

Michael Edelstein, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Psychology, Programs of Environmental Studies and Sustainability and Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Session III. 2-3:30 pm

Agriculture as an Environmental Disaster

Chair: Michael Wilson, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“What Went Wrong: the Case of Un-Ecological Agriculture”

Michael Wilson, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“Loss of Productivity in Uzbek Agriculture”

Dr. Farhod Ahrorov, Professor of International Relations and Agricultural Economics and Management, Samarkand Agricultural Institute, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

“Connecting the Health of the Earth with the Health of the Community”

Miriam MacGillis, Director, Genesis Farm, Blairstown, New Jersey

“Changing Food Paradigms”

William Makofske, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Session IV. 3:45-5:15 pm

Solutions: Ground Water, Renewable Energy and Permaculture

Chair, Leslie Raucher, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“New Oases: Providing Potable Water to People from Deep Wells”

Dr. Abror Gadaev, Professor of Environmental Science and Water Supply and Wastewater, Samarkand State Institute of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

“Solar Energy as a Solution to the Problem of Remote Water Pumping”

Dr. Eshkuvat Arzikulov, Chairman of Physics, Samarkand State University, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

“Environmental Remediation in Extreme Conditions”

Eric Stern, Ph.D. Research Leader – Sediment Management,Battelle and Research Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Studies at Montclair State University

“A Renewable Framework for Environmental Stewardship”

William Makofske, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Cameo Appearance: “Restoring Desertified Ecosystems Through Permaculture”

Andrew Jones, Permaculture Design Solutions, AJventure Life Design, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Session V. 6:15-7:30 pm

Socio-Economic Impacts of the Aral Sea Disaster

Chair: Astrid Cerny, Ph.D., Ramapo College of New Jersey

“Social Impacts to the Karakalpakstan Region and Beyond from the Aral Sea Disaster”

Astrid Cerny, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Principal, Double Gemini Consulting

“An Unhealthy Place to Live: Prioritizing Public Health Needs and Addressing Environmental Contamination”

Ramona Lall, Ph.D., New York City Department of Health

“World Heritage in the Wake of the Aral Sea Disaster: Cultural Policy and Cultural Reality in Uzbekistan”

Dr. Flavia Alaya, Professor Emerita of Cultural History, Ramapo College of New Jersey; Member, New Jersey Historic Sites Council

“Economic Costs of the Aral Sea Disaster and the Prospects for Recovery”

Ilkhomjon Niyazov, Agricultural Economics and Management Department, Samarkand Agricultural Institute, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Cameo Appearance: “Perspectives from a Karakalpak Native”

Juldiz Zarimbetova, graduate student, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Session VI. 7:45-9:15 pm

Policy Error and Incremental Disaster: the Lessons of the Aral Sea Disaster

“Creeping Environmental Disasters: the Global Analogs of the Aral Sea Disaster and the Implications of and for Climate Change”

Michael (Mickey) Glantz, Ph.D. Director of the Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), Environmental Studies Program (ENVS) and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado Boulder

“A Country in Turmoil: Preserving Livability during a National Scale Environmental Disaster”

Abror Gadaev, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Science, Water Supply and Wastewater, Samarkand State Institute of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

“The Conceit of Authoritarian Structures in Decision Making”

Trent Schroyer, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“Conclusions: Human Caused Disaster and the Problem of Irreversible Effects”

Michael Edelstein, Ph.D. Professor of Environmental Psychology, Programs of Environmental Studies and Sustainability and Director, Institute for Environmental Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey

The final discussion includes a roundtable with the entire US and Uzbek team.