Lecture Series Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Environmental Science Program

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Saint Joseph’s University’s Environmental Science and Sustainability program, which offers a major and two minors within the College of Arts and Sciences, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017 with a series of lectures featuring experts in policy, agriculture, physics and chemistry.

The first lecture, “A Path Forward on Climate Change: Relationship Building in a Time of Political Division,” was held on Tuesday, March 7, and was presented by Emily Wirzba, a policy associate from the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, D.C. Wirzba spoke on the power of citizen lobbying.

The remaining lectures are as follows:

  • On Wednesday, March 22, Irina Marinov, Ph.D., assistant professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Pennsylvania, will present “The Southern Ocean and its Significant Role in Climate.” Marinov will discuss how the largely unexplored ocean surrounding Antarctica absorbs human-produced greenhouse heat and the impact this has on the rest of the planet.
  • On Thursday, March 30, Joshua Volk, owner of Slow Hand Farm, a community supported agriculture supplier near Portland, Oregon, will present “Does Small Farming Have a Bigger Impact?” Volk will share his experiences as a farmer and what it takes to feed his community, manage natural resources and make a livable wage doing so.
  • On Tuesday, April 11, Kevin Cannon, Ph.D., professor of chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, Abington, will present “Fact-Based Science Linking Climate Change to Carbon Dioxide.” Cannon will examine the impact of human activity on the carbon cycle and its contribution to climate change.

All lectures will be held in Wolfington Teletorium, Mandeville Hall, beginning at 6 p.m., and are free and open to the public.

Jonathan Fingerut, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and director of the Environmental Science and Sustainability program, says that the lectures in the series represent the variety of topics that SJU students explore.

“We bring in a wide range of speakers each semester to provide our students the chance to hear from practitioners in the field, find out what the latest research is and get a better idea of what career opportunities are available, both within and outside of the sciences,” Fingerut says. “This series will give attendees a sense of the breadth of possibilities available to our students.”

The Environmental Science and Sustainability program was founded in 1997 by Scott McRobert, Ph.D., professor of biology. McRobert, then an associate professor, had taught courses in environmental science and found that students were drawn to the material. Hoping to capitalize on that interest, he outlined new courses and formed a curriculum.

“I was hoping the program would give our students an opportunity to study in a field I knew would become more and more important,” McRobert says. “Over the years, we’ve increased the scope of the program and the opportunities for students within it. I couldn’t be more proud.”

Fingerut believes that the program is even more crucial today than when it was founded.

“Society needs well-trained scientists that not only understand the scientific underpinnings of environmental issues, but also how to communicate them,” he says. “Students in the program take courses in environmental history, business sustainability, food and justice and fair trade. They learn how their work interfaces with other disciplines such as political science, business, economics and social justice. The environmental science major is more than just a strict science major, but one where our students become agents of change.

For more information on the program or the lecture series, contact Fingerut at jfingeru@sju.edu.

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