This November: Environmental Justice Symposium

In partnership with the Climate Impacts Group, Urban@UW is hosting a symposium on November 7 and 8 to expand university-wide engagement with the complex issues of environmental and climate justice in the context of urbanization and city growth and decline. The free symposium will feature several SEFS faculty members and affiliates, including Director Tom DeLuca, Professors Peter Kahn and Josh Lawler, and Mary Ruckelshaus from Natural Capital, and you can check out the full agenda online.

What: “Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change”
When: November 7 and 8, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: University of Washington Samuel E. Kelley Ethnic Cultural Center

The symposium will explore how communities are drawing on environmental and climate science alongside social sciences to advocate for justice; how human and environmental health are linked in a just city; and how we bring these issues to our classrooms, academic communities and beyond. It will gather academic and civic leaders to collectively learn from each other about the challenging legacies and current issues of environmental injustices, and how we create more just and equitable cities.

Registering for the symposium does not entail complete attendance, and organizers invite you to attend as many sessions and events as your schedule allows. So RSVP if you’re interested, and contact urbanuw@uw.edu if you have any questions!

(Note: you will need to register separately for Jacqui Patterson’s lecture at 7:30 p.m. on November 7.)

SEFS Seminar Series: Winter 2015 Schedule

After several weeks of ghostly quiet in Anderson 223, it’s high time for the return of the SEFS Seminar Series (SEFS 529b) this Wednesday, January 7, starting with Professor Susan Bolton and her talk, “Greening deserts for health and well-being: An interdisciplinary design program.”

SEFS Seminar Poster_Winter 2015We’ll continue from there with a wonderfully varied line-up of speakers, ranging from other SEFS and visiting faculty, to potential future faculty members, to professors in other departments on campus. We’ll be exploring everything from mountain pine beetles to environmental restoration, biofuels and green building, and it’s a terrific opportunity to support your colleagues and learn about incredible research going on in our school.

Like last quarter, the seminars will be held on Wednesdays from 3:30-4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223. We’ll also have a casual reception in the Forest Club Room after three of the talks—January 7, February 4 and March 11—so mark your calendars for the talks below and come out as often as you can!

Week 1: January 7
“Greening deserts for health and well-being: An interdisciplinary design program.”
Professor Susan Bolton

Week 2: January 14
“Restoration resources in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences”
Professor Kern Ewing

Week 3: January 21
“Synergies, feedbacks and tipping points: Mountain pine beetle’s rapid range expansion threatens invasion of North American boreal pine forests”
Professor Allan Carroll
Director, Forest Sciences Program
Department of Forest & Conservation Sciences
University of British Columbia

Week 4: January 28
“Novel feedstocks for fuels and chemicals production: Technology, economics and environmental sustainability”
Professor Renata Bura

Week 5: February 4
“Interaction Pattern Design for urban sustainability”
Professor Peter Kahn

Week 6: February 11
“Understanding species interactions to improve wildlife conservation and management”
Laura Prugh

Week 7: February 18
“Moving beyond just population size: advances in abundance and occurrence modeling of wildlife populations”
Beth Gardner

Week 8: February 25
“Adaptive restoration of Western Washington prairies”
Professor Jon Bakker

Week 9: March 4
Talk TBD
Rahel Sollmann
North Carolina State University

Week 10: March 11
Talk TBD
Chris Sutherland
Cornell University

New Faculty Intro: Peter Kahn

Unlike our two other new faculty members, Professor Peter Kahn joins us from just up the road on campus in Guthrie Hall, where he continues to hold a joint appointment with the Department of Psychology—and where he is director of the Human Interaction With Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) Lab. Yet there is nothing short or linear about the path he followed to become a professor, and how his research has aligned with SEFS.

Peter KahnProfessor Kahn had what he calls a rather unusual childhood and professional trajectory, and he can trace many of his current research interests to his teenage years. At age 13, while living in the San Francisco Bay Area, he decided to drop out of his school to pursue carpentry for several years. Then, from ages 16 to 20, he ventured to a 670-acre community-run cattle ranch five hour’s drive north of San Francisco. Kahn lived communally on the ranch and guided people into the wilderness on horse trips. Sometimes he’d ride for a week at a time, unencumbered by property boundaries and fence lines. “I came of age with a lot of space, and that’s very deep within me,” he says.

At age 20, Kahn headed to Bozeman, Mont., to attend farrier school and become a specialist in equine hoof care, and then he used that trade to work his way through Santa Rosa Junior College in California. A few years later, he transferred to U.C. Berkeley and—having discovered a special fondness for Milton and Shakespeare—graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s in English.

He continued on to graduate school at U. C. Berkeley, as well, and shifted his studies to social and moral development for his master’s in 1984, and then earned his Ph.D. in 1988.

Since then, as his research interests have branched in a number of directions, Kahn says his experience on that communal ranch—which he remains a part of—continues to shape some of his intellectual activity. “In our community,” says Kahn, “the younger generation has shifted perspectives of what we think is big space and adequate space for healthy living. We adapt to more congested and degraded environments, but just because we adapt doesn’t mean we do well.”

Peter Kahn

Part of what drew Kahn to affiliate more closely with SEFS was an interest in exploring why conservation is not just important for ecosystems, but also for human beings.

Part of what drew him to affiliate more closely with SEFS was an interest in further exploring our connection to the outdoors, and how you can’t interact with something, like nature and open space, that isn’t there anymore—in other words, why conservation is not just important for ecosystems, but for human beings. Some of his research themes include environmental generational amnesia, and shifting baselines about what counts as an optimal environment; the loss of language to express the richness of our experiences in nature; and what he calls interaction pattern design, and how we can construct a building or urban space that doesn’t just incorporate visual or structural elements of nature, but actually facilitates closer interaction and engagement with it.

His recent books (with MIT Press) highlight some of his related interests: Technological Nature: Adaptation and the Future of Human Life (2011); The Rediscovery of the Wild (2012); and Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species (2013).

For now, you can reach him by email or at his office in Guthrie 308, and he will have an office in Anderson by the beginning of next quarter. He’s looking forward to collaborating with SEFS faculty, so start dreaming up research partnerships and welcome Professor Kahn to the SEFS community!

Photos © Peter Kahn.