Beginning in Fall 2015, Environmental Studies Department at Dickinson College arranged a series of lectures, which aimed to present topics in environmental studies and environmental science to Dickinson community. This series are the Earth Issues Seminars. Each seminar is held by students, faculty member, alumnus and professional in either environmental studies or environmental science. The Department has been working hard to introduce different and new topics as well as engage the community in discussion about environmental issues.
In this semester, Earth Issues Seminars Series consist of six lectures. Five lectures had been presented, and three of which I have come to. I have gained more knowledge about different environmental topics from these seminars. Below, I will introduce briefly about the main discussions of these lectures.
- From Carlisle to Congress: Working for Environmental and Social Change
In this seminar, Andy Vargas ’16 gave a talk about his experience of working as a Special Assistant and Legislative Correspondent for Senator Kamala Harris. He gave us meaningful advice from his networking experience and a lot of insights about politics, which area he used to not expect himself to work in since he graduated with ENST/LALC double major. Especially, he how he has found ways to apply what he had learned at Dickinson to his present job. Personally, one of the things that really inspired me about his talk was that despite the struggles he has been through in this job, he claimed to keep working in politics and work harder in order to secure the well-being of society.
- Agricultural Biotechnology: Myths vs Realities
Bill Freese – a Science Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety – had visited our college and hold a public lecture on agriculture biotechnology, its application – which is genetically modified foods (GM foods), its misconception and the government’s response. This technology has been widely operated to increase productivity and benefit human lives. However, there are some records of its unintended effects, which have raised a lot of concerns on the product’s safety. Although the government has established regulations to address these concerns, Freese thought that there should be more and stricter assessments of these products to prevent negative impacts on consumers and environment. At the end, he urged us to rethink of the need of agriculture biotechnology in our lives.
- India’s Renewable Energy Transition: Justice and Land Considerations
Dr. Heather Bedi of Dickinson’s Environmental Studies Department has conducted a research in how injustices were caused by solar energy infrastructure in India; she is working on to publish a book from this research. Lily Tarwater ’21 has taken part in Dana Research Assistantship and assisted Dr. Bedi in this research. In this seminar, they introduced about the focus of the research, its procedure and results; during the talk, Lily also shared her experience of participating in Dana Program.
The Earth Issues are free and open for everyone. Sometimes, the seminars take place during lunch time, so attendants are provided with free pizza. I am surprised that the seminars not only present environmental topics in the U.S. but also include events in other countries. Therefore, I think that this is a great opportunity as well as a helpful resource on campus for each of us to learn and become more aware of environmental issues which are occurring around the globe. The next and final Earth Issues Seminar for this semester is Senior Research Presentations which will be hold by senior research students of the Environmental Studies Department. This event is scheduled on December 12th, at 12:00PM and in Kaufman 179. I hope to see you there!