Community Adaptation in the Anthropocene

Updated 29 June 2019. A version of this appeared as a special to the Gainesville Sun on 23 September 2018.

Lake Okeechobee algae bloom caused by phosphate pollution. Taken from space July 2016. NASA Earth Observatory.


Ecological collapse in Florida is not hypothetical. It has been growing worse each year in south Florida where population pressure and the interests of agriculture have resulted in the annual recurrence of the biggest pollution catastrophe in the history of the Southeastern US. It is happening now in our springs, streams, and lakes where pollutants have disrupted the normal ecological processes that kept these bodies of water crystalline. It is happening now as political and financial interests continue to delay and derail our ability to respond to ongoing climate and ecosystem disruptions.

Continue reading “Community Adaptation in the Anthropocene”

A confluence of crises in higher education

I am preparing to give a presentation at the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences annual meeting in Orlando in the spring. The following is an essay that will form the basis of my presentation.

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Higher education is undergoing an accelerating transformation driven by financing and student demography. At the same moment in history, our species is facing rapidly cascading unprecedented crises of climate change and sustainability. Although considered by most to be part of the Public Trust, public colleges and universities are no longer funded as such. As budgets have become tighter, many states are experiencing a decline in available students. Although the challenges facing students today include traditional concerns such as preparing for a career, learning transferable skills, and getting good grades, over recent decades these changes have influenced the character and viability of the college experience. Career pathways have become more diverse, expensive, and confusing. Higher education has responded to our environmental imperative in a fitful and inconsistent manner. There are no common standards for ecological literacy. Continue reading “A confluence of crises in higher education”

It is time to panic – a lecture on climate change and sustainability

Attached is a pdf of my lecture for Monday. I will outline the case for panic and action and provide the students with a sequence of lectures for the remainder of the semester. This is for BSC2862 Global Change Ecology and Sustainability at the University of Florida. Planetary Boundaries, Regime Shifts, and Sustainability

 

Higher Education and the Gift of Desperation

A version of this appeared in Medium 17 July 2018. 

1_l4G88i80VlcMfTcpvkRpOQ.jpegA fully integrated complex adaptive system. Angel Oak, S. Carolina


“….. a faltering economy has raised questions in the public’s mind about the value of a college education and every revenue stream upon which institutions of higher learning depend has come under pressure.” – Drew Faust, President of Harvard 2013


 

I recently helped to conduct a workshop for a group of faculty facing large program cuts at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. UWSP will eliminate 13 majors, including English, history, philosophy, art, sociology, political science, geology, geography, Spanish, German, and French. Layoffs of tenured faculty are unavoidable and imminent. To justify the cuts, system administrators cited large budget shortfalls and falling enrollment. My colleague and I brought current thinking on curriculum design and program development to help this coalition of the willing envision a future. The situation is dire and it is legitimate to ask why upper administration had not long ago taken steps to cushion the blow of downsizing. Continue reading “Higher Education and the Gift of Desperation”