From Maine ant hills to tropical ecosystems, Fishbowl brings audiences on compelling global environmental journeys

 

Unity College releases Fishbowl colloquium schedule

America’s Environmental College offers free public talks on diverse research topics

UNITY, Maine — From Maine ant hills to tropical ecosystems, Unity College will bring audiences on compelling global environmental journeys with its Fishbowl series this Fall.

Fishbowl is a stimulating colloquium series that is open to the public where Unity College faculty and invited outside speakers discuss ideas on pedagogy and present their scholarly work at America’s Environmental College.

“Fishbowl is a series of educational forums where we highlight sustainability scholarship and innovation, and offer the public a glimpse of research findings from our faculty and invited guests,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “These presentations are always enlightening, accessible, and well-attended by students and the general public.”

“The Fishbowl Series celebrates our successes in the classroom, particularly in those areas that highlight the transdisciplinary focus of the Unity College curriculum,” said Assistant Professor of Cell Biology Dr. Ellen Batchelder, who coordinated this semester’s series.

A summary of the schedule:

Thursday, Sept. 22: “Ant Communities on Maine Islands: Effects of Island Size and Isolation,” presented by Unity College Professor of Ecology Dr. Amy Arnett. Noon to 12:30 p.m., Higgins Wing Room 212.

Dr. Amy Arnett will compare species diversity among islands and offer an opportunity to study the effects of island biogeography on small, biological communities.

Arnett surveyed ants on 10 Maine islands, plus mainland sites, to determine the effects of island size, isolation from the mainland, and habitat on ant community composition. During the summers of 2007 and 2014, 3,764 ants were collected representing seven genera and 14 species.

“My results show that the number of species decreased significantly with increasing latitude and increased with increasing longitude, and that larger islands had more ant species than small islands,” Arnett said. “Accumulation curves suggest that more sampling might reveal more species on some of the islands, and similarity indices suggest unique communities on many islands. These findings support the predictions of island biogeography theory; primarily that species richness is correlated with island size and negatively correlated with distance from the mainland.”

Arnett, who conducted her research while a Professor of Ecology at Unity, now serves in the newly created position of Distance Education Dean of Curriculum & Instruction.

Thursday, Oct. 6: “Development Aid and Conservation in Latin America,” presented by Bill Powers. 11 a.m. to noon, Parsons Wing Room 204.

The Latin American concept of buen vivir, or “living well,” represents a paradigm of sustainability steeped in historical practice and currently under revival for contemporary culture. The Plurinational State of Bolivia has recently crafted laws and policies around buen vivir, including the Framework Law of Mother Earth which grants ecosystems the equivalent of human rights.

Powers examines how such new policies play out in one of Bolivia’s 24 nationally-designated “ecological municipalities,” the 4,500-person town of Samaipata. Results show a critical link between sustainability and well-being: Samaipata’s happiness levels are above U.S. levels, yet at just 1/17th of U.S. per capita carbon footprint and GDP.

What functional and conservation-friendly alternatives to the growth model exist in today’s Bolivia? What is the role of social/community fabric and “vernacular culture” in delivering high human well-being and biodiversity conservation results under a sustainable low-GDP, low-carbon scenario? Are there transferable South-North lessons?

Powers has worked for two decades in development aid and conservation in Latin America, Africa, and North America. From 2002 to 2004, he managed the community components of a project in the Bolivian Amazon that won a 2003 prize for environmental innovation from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

His essays and commentaries on global issues have appeared in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune and National Public Radio. And his writing and speaking have been covered by CNN, PBS, ABC News, New York Daily News, Forbes, Bloomberg, London Times, The Atlantic, Utne, and HuffPost Live. He is a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and an adjunct faculty member at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs.

Thursday, Oct. 13: “Fishbowl presents Deanna Witman.” Noon to 12:30 p.m., Higgins Wing Room 212.

Early this past summer, 12 artists from around the world descended on Cow House Studios in County Wexford, Ireland, for “How To Flatten A Mountain,” a residency offering participants the opportunity to work together with European Union curators and artists in a collaborative setting on all the practical and theoretical steps toward producing an exhibition/publication of work presented at PhotoIreland Festival 2016.

This talk will provide an overview of the process and results as well as how this experience has permeated into Witman’s teaching.

Tuesday. Oct. 18: “50 Marathons in 50 States: A tribute to Unity Alumnus Lollie,” presented by Ted Hobart. 11 a.m. to noon, Higgins Wing Room 212.

Ted Hobart has been running marathons across the country attempting one in each state. He has done this in honor of his friends — Lollie Winans and Julie Williams — who were tragically murdered while hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1996. Winans was a Unity College student at the time of her passing who was well known for her kindness, love for life, and appreciation for the outdoors.

Hobart will be completing his 50th marathon in Maine the weekend before this visit to Unity College. He’ll be presenting a lecture about his journey.

Tuesday, Oct. 25: “George Mitchell and the Clean Air Act of 1990,” presented by Douglas Rooks. 11 a.m. to noon, Parsons Wing Room 204.

Learn how U.S. Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine), as U.S. Senate Majority Leader, overcame daunting obstacles to enact the most important environmental law of the global warming era, which now stands as the foundation for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Douglas Rooks is a career journalist who worked at weekly and daily newspapers for 25 years. He was the editor of the Granite State News in Wolfeboro, N.H., editorial page editor for the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, Maine, and editor and publisher of Maine Times.

Since the turn of the century, he has been a freelance editor, writer and author, covering Maine state government, and specializing in environmental issues, public education, municipal affairs, and tax policy. He is a graduate magna cum laude of Colby College, and a former board president of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church in Augusta. He lives, with his wife, Janine Bonk, in a 210-year-old farmhouse in West Gardiner. “Statesman: A Thorough Examination of the Life of One of Maine’s Best Known Senators, George Mitchell” is his first book.

Thursday, Nov. 10: “Toward an Evolutionary History of Slavery,” presented by Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities and Writing Dr. Joshua A. Kercsmar. Noon to 12:30 p.m., Higgins Wing Room 212.

This talk by Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities and Writing Dr. Joshua A. Kercsmar shows that, as ancient Eurasian societies domesticated animals, they acquired ideas and methods that they applied to the control of slaves.

Following the domestication of cattle (8500 BC), sheep (8000 BC), and horses (4000 BC), societies in the Fertile Crescent, Roman Empire, and Byzantium became increasingly bold in their understanding of where they stood in relation to these species. A similar process took place as these societies incorporated human slaves, who, like domestic animals, were supposedly once “wild” but now conquered. Indeed, from around the 4th century BC through the 6th century AD, masters developed overlapping strategies for managing animals and slaves.

Kercsmar uses artistic evidence — such as the “Master of Animals” motif and Barbarini Ivory — to suggest that ancient imperial power was correlated with particular constellations of human-animal, gender, race, and class dominance and subordination. He also examines how those ideas played out on the ground, as masters used animals and slaves on farms or in the service of imperial building projects.

Tuesday, Nov. 29: “DSM-5 Revisions,” presented by Professor of Psychology Dr. Donald Lynch. 11 a.m. to noon, Higgins Wing Room 212.

For the past 60 years, successive editions of “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” have become the standard reference in the United States for clinical practice in the mental health field, used by virtually all mental health practitioners for the purpose of accurate diagnosis and treatment, as an educational resource for students and clinicians, and for statistical research in the field.

The Fifth Edition was published by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2013, but 13 years had passed since the previous edition was printed. Dr. Donald Lynch explains that, “the changes contained in the DSM-5 are significant and profound. Among them were the elimination of the multiaxial system of diagnosis, the revision from a categorical nosology to a dimensional one, and the elimination of a number of diagnoses as well as the addition of several new disorders.” This presentation will give an overview of the new revisions and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions as time permits.

Thursday, Dec. 8: “Swimming, Sweating, and Surviving: Exploring Ecosystem Linkages Throughout the Tropics,” presented by Visiting Associate Professor of Ecology Dr. Pieter deHart. Noon to 12:30 p.m., Higgins Wing Room 212.

For all the perceived glamour of doing biological research in the tropics, life for researchers and research subjects can be grueling. In particular, organisms in these warmer regions face challenges from invasive species, changing habitat due to natural and anthropogenic causes, and multi-dimensional predation pressures.

This presentation by Visiting Associate Professor of Ecology Dr. Pieter deHart will highlight two such regions and scenarios: The impacts of the small Indian mongoose invasion on sea turtle populations in the Caribbean, and the unexpected consequences of deforestation on fundamental fish species in the Amazon. Both scenarios will be examined through the lens of food web reconstruction, and underscore how multiple ecosystems are temporally and spatially connected in inextricable ways.

Additionally, the trials associated with conducting research in these regions will be discussed and highlighted, with particular emphasis placed on the process of scientific discovery in remote regions of Brazil.

Fishbowl is and generously sponsored by the Office of the President. Most Fishbowl events include light lunch and a coffee discussion immediately afterward.

“Fishbowl discussions and presentations provide a transdisciplinary forum for teaching efforts at Unity College and for discussions on research,” Dean of the School of Environmental Citizenship Dr. Erika Latty said. “It is at this intersection of teaching and research goals where speakers can make the most impact on Unity College students.”

About Unity College

The first institution of higher education in the nation to divest from fossil fuel investments, Unity College is committed to educating the next generation of environmental professionals. Sustainability science lies at the heart of its educational mission, with 16 environmentally focused undergraduate majors and an M.S. in Professional Science degree offered online. For more information, visit unity.edu.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s