ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES PROGRAM NEWSLETTER
NOVEMBER 11, 2008
In this issue:
** UPCOMING ES PROGRAM EVENTS: Conservation Career Advice, ES Colloquium, Grad School Lunch Discussion
** ES PROGRAM NEWS: The Navigator, items left at pot luck
** ALSO ON CAMPUS: Week of Climate Justice
** CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY: How to be an Activist
** GRAD PROGRAM: U Maine Launches Business and Sustainablity MBA
** JOBS & INTERNSHIPS: Chewonki Foundation, Coos Watershed Community Support Intern
** UPCOMING ES PROGRAM EVENTS:
A discussion with the author of “Saving the Earth as a Career: Advice on Becoming a Conservation Professional”
(Two chapters from this book are attached as .pdfs)
Malcom “Mac” Hunter, Professor of Wildlife Biology, University of Maine Orono
Tuesday, November 11
4 pm in Diamond 223
"Biodiversity: Buzzword or Fundamental Concept"
Tuesday, November 11
7pm, in Olin 1
Mac Hunter, Professor of Wildlife Biology, University of Maine Orono
Malcolm "Mac" Hunter is the Libra Professor of Conservation Biology in the Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine. A native of Damariscotta Maine, he earned his B.S. in Wildlife Science at UMaine in 1974 then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar where he received his Ph. D in Zoology. He joined the UMaine faculty in 1978 and has pursued research on a wide range of organisms and ecosystems--birds, plants, mammals, amphibians, lakes, peatlands, grasslands, and especially forests. He has produced six books, most recently: "Fundamentals of conservation biology" and "Saving the Earth as a Career." His interests are also geographically broad; he has worked in over 25 countries, mainly in Africa and the Himalayas. He has served in many public service roles such as the Governor's Council on Sustainable Forest Management and as President of the Society for Conservation Biology, a professional organization with 13,000 members in 140 countries.
Grad School: When, Where, Why?
A discussion led by Philip Nyhus, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Wednesday, November 12
Noon, in the Fairchild Room in Dana
** Not just for seniors, we would love to have attendance from all years, and faculty to share their experiences!
** ES PROGRAM NEWS:
For those of you wondering what Professor Nyhus is doing when he is not teaching class, check out this cover article in the most recent Colby Magazine:
Did you leave a blue kleen kanteen with an Obama sticker on it, or a lovely blue floral pot holder at the Cole’s house? If so, swing by Diamond 208 to retrieve.
** ALSO ON CAMPUS:
Bangladesh is drowning...due to climate change: Join Colby students for a week of Climate Justice
November 10 – 15
Photo Exhibition in Pulver and Diamond Atrium
November 12 – 14
Take Action! Stop by Pulver to find out how.
11 am – 3 pm
Who Cares if Bangladesh Drowns? Film Screening and Panel Discussion
Railroad Square Cinema
2:30 meet at Cotter Union and march to rally on Main Street
Presentations by Oak Fellow Afsan Chowdhury and ES Professor Emeritus, Tom Tietenberg
** CAMPUS SUSTAINABILITY:
How to be an Activist, Elizabeth May
From Sierra Club of Canada website: http://www.sierraclub.ca
The author, who has no academic credentials for activism, has based the following on over 30 years of campaigning. She was Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada for 17 years.
How to be an Activist
There is no formal school for activists. No university degree qualifies the graduate to practice grassroots organizing. Environmental activists, like many other practitioners of social change, come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and even from all political parties. And all of us learn from experience. On the other hand, we should be able to benefit from the experience of others. Unfortunately, more often than not, people suddenly find themselves in a situation that requires a certain moral heroism. They had not planned to become activists.
Environmental problems themselves create activists. When a toxic landfill threatens the neighbourhood, local lawyers may volunteer to do some legal work, scientists may offer volunteer help and the community of concerned parents suddenly find themselves wondering how to write a press release, circulate petitions, and, even conduct a sit-in in a politician’s office. By the time they are in the thick of a campaign, it is hard to know where to turn for help and advice.
The reality of ordinary people picking up the gauntlet and becoming politically active is largely unknown to the as-yet uninitiated public. By the time the small neighbourhood citizens group gets its issue before the public, its members are already being labeled as “environmentalists”. From that point on, their true identity is lost as surely as Clark Kent’s when he emerges as Superman.
The media labeling process does society a disservice. It cuts off “activists” and “environmentalists” from “normal” people. The general public, as demonstrated by numerous polls, supports the principles of environmental protection and restoration, but usually they believe it is for some other category of people, called “environmentalists”, to do the work they support.
When an environmental group is described as a “special interest” group, there is a blurring between those who protect “special” interests, usually of a financial nature, and those who work on a volunteer basis, usually at personal sacrifice and expense, to pursue a cause in the public good.
The reality of activism, for the environment or any other cause, is that democracy is at work. Citizens are exercising democratic rights. Rather than being the exception to the rule, for democracy to thrive, all citizens should be activists.
A Few Good Starting Points
Recognizing that environmental activism is a democratic right, it is important to have a few good starting points to encourage the neophyte.
1. . Refuse to be intimidated. If you are told that a subject is too technical or scientific for you to understand, don’t believe it. Elected politicians make these decisions all the time based on general knowledge and their sense of public opinion. The claim of “expert” versus average concerned citizen is inherently anti- democratic and elitist. You may not be an expert. But you can read and understand what experts have to say. Make a note of good quotes (including the source) of expert views concerned with the environment. Start your own card file of references to unleash if someone tries to suggest you don’t know enough to be involved.
2. Be creative! Every campaign and issue has its own dynamic. Let your creative juices flow. Maybe satire will work for you. Maybe song. Even conventional campaigns can attract more people if you have an optimistic, innovative approach.
3. Don’t take no for an answer. If you want to meet an elected official, call every day. Drop by the office and get to know the staff. Be persistent.The squeaky wheel.
4. Ask lots of questions. Get to the bottom of issues. Do your homework.
5. Use the telephone. It is a great research tool. Ten times better than writing and asking for information is phoning until you find the person who knows the answer and will immediately send you information. In addition to getting what you want, you may have uncovered a good source for future information - and maybe even an ally in the bureaucracy.
6. Be unfailingly polite. Being persistent is not the same thing as being rude. You may be in this for the long haul, so don’t burn any bridges.
7. Leave no stone unturned. Think about who knows who. How can you expand your network? Your allies may come from unexpected places, so do not make assumptions. Ask people for help.
8. When someone in government does something good for the environment, be sure to give public credit and thanks.
9. You can accomplish anything, if you don’t care who gets the credit.
10. Remember that politics is also personal. Watch out for burn- out. You’ll need the support of friends and family. Build love into your campaigns.
Some Starting Points
In local organizing, one of the first things you’ll probably want to do is form a group. Don’t re-invent the wheel. Look around. Is there an existing group, with goals similar to your own, that would accept your group as a working committee, or affiliated chapter? If you can avoid going through the incorporation process and the charitable number ordeal by joining an existing group (and co-opting them to your issue in the process), why not try?
If you are organizing your own group, try not to get bogged down in by-laws. Stick to the essentials. If you want to change a decision at City Council in three months, you won’t have time for Robert’s Rules of Order. In order not to lose momentum, and volunteers, make the meetings fun by including some social activity. Plan a pot luck supper first and then work through the agenda efficiently. Folk singer and environmental activist Pete Seeger organized a very successful campaign to clean up the Hudson River. He advised, “Don’t have meetings that only attract the kind of people who like going to meetings.”
Be sure to assign tasks as you make decisions. If someone suggests something new, don’t reject it just because everyone who is heavily involved is already too busy. Say “What a great idea! Will you take that on?” Delegate!
Pick achievable goals. Positive reinforcement is important. So deciding to make your goal “achieving world peace” or “ending hunger” will likely result in burn-out and disillusionment. On the other hand, making your goal to get 10,000 names on a petition to do either of the above is do-able and will have a positive reinforcing impact - you’ll gain strength and enthusiasm for the next goal.
How to get your message in the news media
It is a fact of life that environmental groups don’t have money. Some projects may qualify for government grants, but they are usually the “safe” kind. Planting trees. Picking up litter. While such projects are undoubtedly worthwhile, they are not going to change the world.
Trying to reduce dependency on environmentally damaging and non-sustainable energy sources (like fossil fuels, large scale hydro and nuclear power) fundamentally challenges the status quo. So does trying to end the use of toxic pesticides for cosmetic purposes. If you are working on issues like these, it is hard to obtain the kind of money it takes to gain public (and political) attention through advertising.
The mainstay of your information and awareness campaign is going to be the news media. Hence, the environmental movement and the news media have an awkward and symbiotic relationship: they need us for stories, and the environmental movement certainly needs them. But environmentalists get frustrated with the superficiality of news coverage of issues that threaten planetary survival, and the news media get sick of hearing what they often regard as predictable whining from the greens. So how can you, with little or no media experience, be expected to break through to reasonably accurate coverage of your concerns? First, you should understand a few things about the news media.. Noam Chomsky’s analysis (“Manufacturing Consent”) notwithstanding, you can get your issue in the public eye.
It helps if you are able to see the story from the reporter’s point of view. There are very few newspapers or electronic networks with a full time environmental reporter. You are trying to get a reporter, who has to cover everything from tax hikes to crime on the street, interested in your story.
There are no Woodwards and Bernsteins. Calling and telling them there’s a big story out there if they do some really good investigative reporting will get your message consigned to the waste basket, (or, in an environmentally aware newsroom, the recycling bin.) If you want a reporter to cover your story, you have to do all their work for them. Think it through. Where’s the angle? “A local group of environmentalists are organizing to save the environment” is hardly an earth shattering story. Remember the old adage, “Dog bites man” is not a story. “Man bites dog” is.
Tie your issue to other political events, like elections or previous campaign promises. What are the financial issues? Is taxpayers’ money being wasted? Are jobs being lost? Are the environmental alternatives better for the economy? (They usually are.) Make it interesting to someone who doesn’t give a hydro-electric dam.
Fill in the “5 W’s” : Who, What, When, Where and Why. Make sure all your facts are absolutely accurate.
Write your own press release. It should read like a news story, not like your group’s manifesto. Put in quotes from group representatives. Be sure to include phone numbers so that reporters can call you to get more details and re-work your press release into their own story.
** GRAD PROGRAM:
UMaine Business School Introduces Business & Sustainability MBA
ORONO – It’s no longer business as usual for a growing number of companies, as consumers more than ever demand evidence of corporate responsibility in environmental and social matters.
Businesses are realizing that a "triple bottom line" – economic growth, environmental protection and social equity – result in significant company-wide benefits. Reduced waste and enhanced operational efficiency, advantages in product and market development, increased employee commitment and an improved reputation among external stakeholders are among them, says Terry Porter, assistant professor of management in the Maine Business School at UMaine.
With that in mind, the Maine Business School introduced this fall a Masters of Business Administration Business and Sustainability Program. In addition to traditional MBA core classes, two new classes – in business and sustainability and in business ethics – are being offered.
The business school already has the necessary faculty expertise available to formalize the new degree program, Porter says.
In addition, faculty members from other disciplines at UMaine have extensive research backgrounds in environmental and social-equity issues. In addition to taking classes within the College of Business, Public Policy and Health, students in the program can choose sustainability-related electives in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture, or through research institutes and centers on campus.
Foundational courses required for the MBA Business and Sustainability degree include business sustainability and business ethics, plus core courses in: management; marketing and management information systems; finance; business law; quantitative methods; and strategy and policy.
Faculty resources, combined with the accessibility in Maine of state government, policymakers and agencies, will lead to an exceptionally relevant program for future business leaders, Porter says.
"We’re approaching business from a holistic and sustainable point of view," Porter says. "It opens up a lot of questions about the paradigms of business and the world."
Information about the new MBA track can be obtained by calling Porter at 581-1990, Nory Jones, interim director of graduate business programs, at 581-1995, or by visiting the Maine Business School Web site (www.mbs.maine.edu/%7Emba_msa/bus_sust_track.htm).
** JOBS & INTERNSHIPS:
Chewonki Foundation, Wiscasset, ME
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION TEACHER /TRIP LEADER
Description: Chewonki is a non-profit educational institution located on a 400-acre peninsula on the coast of Maine and known for it’s innovations in education and leading-edge sustainability practices. Each year we hire teachers for a three-season position with Chewonki’s Outdoor Classroom from March to November with some opportunities for continuing through the winter. This is a very rewarding and demanding job. During the Outdoor Classroom residential programs our teachers live and work along-side their students, 24 hours a day, tenting at our shores-side campsites for three to five days at a time. Daily lessons include teaching natural history, sustainability and group challenges.
During the summer each of our teachers takes a leadership role in our summer camp program with responsibilities such as leading the nature program, teaching activities such as art or photography, or running the challenge program. Those with trip leading experience may lead some of Chewonki's canoeing, kayaking, hiking, sailing or sea-kayaking trips.
Qualifications: BS or BA. Degrees in education, natural sciences, outdoor recreation, or related field preferred. Teaching experience required. Experience teaching environmental topics and leading low ropes courses a plus. We are looking for teachers with strong leadership ability, a dynamic personality and a genuine interest in children. We require Wilderness First Responder certification.
Salary/Benefits: $520 biweekly ($624 biweekly for the summer), plus room and board, health insurance, one-week paid vacation in August and 6 paid weeks of environmental education and wilderness trip training. We also provide a staff pro-purchase plan for discounts on out-door gear.
Send cover letter, resume and three references to:
Director of the Center for Environmental Education,
485 Chewonki Neck Road, Wiscasset, ME 04578
email@example.com 207-882-7323 ext. 153
visit our website: www.chewonki.org
Deadline: Applications accepted year-round
Coos Watershed Community Support Intern. Northwest Service Academy, Charleston, OR
The Coos Watershed Association is a way for people with a wide range of interests to get together and develop the "big picture" of the conditions in the Coos watershed, and it helps individual landowners to decide how to manage and restore the watershed's natural systems.
The Community Support Developer will build a 'Friends of the Coos Watershed' support group that will increase the effectiveness and sustainability of our science-based watershed restoration program in the local community. The three goals of this position are to network with organizers of similar groups to build the 'Friends of the Coos Watershed' group, provide direct outreach to the local community through public events, publications, and website and effectively sustain the outreach program through financial management and performance measurement. Specific duties to this position will include neighborhood meetings with residents and a membership drive to support the organizations mission.
For qualifications and how to apply go to: http://www.northwestserviceacademy.org/...CWSD.pdf