Common Good Cafe session with Matt Sparke

tMarch 20 | Resistance, Resilience and Reaction Amidst Rising Inequality

In this talk, Dr. Matt Sparke reflects on the divergent ways in which communities and individuals around the world are responding to the challenges of growing in-country inequality. Author most recently of “Introducing Globalization,” Sparke argues that when local forms of suffering, dispossession and alienation are put in their global context it becomes easier to imagine more collective and caring kinds of response. Too often, though, reactionary responses based on various forms of chauvinism, xenophobia, and fear take precedence, blinding communities to the ways they share common vulnerabilities with others. Yet other responses focus just on individualistic strategies of securing personal resilience. The challenge then is to see how these varied responses – the new 3 Rs of resistance, reaction and resilience – relate to one another, and how understanding their overlapping emergence amidst global structural change may ultimately make it possible to turn the passions and preferences for reaction and resilience into the foundations for collectively resisting the processes that produce inequality.

UW Student Mollie Holmberg to Present Congress with Research on ‘Understanding Patterns of Human Dependence on Agruclture and Forest Production in the Anthropocene’

Mollie HolmbergEvery year the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a not-for-profit educational organization, holds an undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. This session seeks to ensure that the US Congress has a clear understanding of the education programs and students that they fund. The 18th Annual Posters on the Hill received over 600 applications from eligible undergraduate students, and we are very happy to announce that UW student Mollie Holmberg was one of 60 applicants selected to participate in the event. Mollie has been working with Dr. Luke Bergmann on a topic titled ‘Understanding Patterns of Human Dependence on Agriculture and Forest Production in the Anthropocene’. This project attempts to represent global sociological relationships, in the form of environmental resource-trade-consumption linkages, using Geographic Information Systems. You can find the full abstract for the project below. Congratulations to Mollie and Dr. Bergmann, and best of luck presenting your findings to Congress!


Understanding Patterns of Human Dependence on Agriculture and Forest Production in the Anthropocene

Mollie Holmberg, University of Washington, 2014
Luke Bergmann, University of Washington

Diverse lines of evidence indicate that humans have come to dominate many environmental and climate systems across the globe, prompting some researchers to declare the present part of a new geologic age known as the “Anthropocene.” Since plants form the base of many biological ecosystems (including those to which people belong) and agriculture alone covers approximately forty percent of land surface, studying how humans appropriate Earth’s plant production allows us to explore one of the most significant ways people have come to dominate Earth systems. Previous work has mapped the global distribution of plant growth supporting humans but failed to fully link this production to specific populations. To understand these connections, we begin by tracing global agricultural and forest production through a simplified representation of the global economy (containing about sixty million economic flows). To do this, we use global economic data collected by the Global Trade Analysis Project, enabling us to connect fields and forests with the often distant human populations whose lives they eventually support. Our model accounts for indirect plant consumption (for example, factory products require plant consumption by laborers) as well as plant materials people consume directly. Mapping these results and transforming them through Geographic Information Systems (software which can visually and computationally manipulate the results in diverse ways) allows us to describe major intersecting processes of globalization linking distant peoples and lands. For us to respond effectively to the increased human domination of Earth systems, improving our understanding of these socioecological relationships will be critical.