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2017 Conference

AESS 2017 Registration Open

Dear AESS Community,

Our registration for #AESS2017 has opened. Details and rates are on our registration page. Early bird rates are active until May 1, 2017.

As usual, we like to take advantage of our site host’s geography and find ways to experience the locale. We have an exciting list of Friday morning field trip options this year that are perfect for the outdoor enthusiast, historian, foodie and more.

The AZ Conference team has worked tirelessly to create an excellent program, and we warmly welcome you to confirm your registration today.

I look forward to seeing you in Tucson!

>Dave

David M. Hassenzahl, PhD
President

The 2017 AESS annual conference will begin with pre-conference workshops on June 21st, followed by an evening reception and keynote shared with colleagues from the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) and the Community College Alliance for Sustainability Education (CCASE). June 22nd will begin with a plenary panel and floor discussion about the future of environmental studies and sciences programs, and the role of AESS in that context. Please send Tony Rosenbaum your thoughts about what topics we should prioritize. The rest of the conference will include presentations, panels, and posters, as well as field trips, a film night, and our annual membership meeting.

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The Problem of Privatizing the Public Good

The Problem of Privatizing the Public Good

There are some extraordinary conversations happening between members of our community regarding the onslaught of changes brought on by the Trump administration. Naturally, there is much consternation over the administration’s goals for agencies like the EPA and what that means for the field of Environmental Studies and Sciences. In that view, I am almost dazzled by the rapid fire of bad news coming out of DC. I often find myself struggling to figure out what to do. Amidst all this, one thing I keep coming back to is infrastructure. Or more specifically, water infrastructure.

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Sustainability in the Desert

Sustainability in the Desert

I spent the first ten years of my academic career at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as part of a highly interdisciplinary environmental studies department. My colleagues and I repeatedly faced some version of this question: ‘how can you work on environment and sustainability issues when you live in a desert?’ I’ve heard the same concern about AESS’s upcoming meeting at the University of Arizona. Then – as it does now – the question seemed fair to me. So, I spent some time evaluating the sustainability of where I lived and came up with a presentation that I gave around the country that I called Las Vegas: the Sustainability Everytown. My premise was, and remains, that where you live is a lot less impactful than how you live.

For example, I had colleagues in Las Vegas who lived in net zero energy houses. Such homes minimize energy demand with passive and active solar design. In places like Las Vegas, peak energy demand is at the hottest times of the hottest days of the year, which also corresponds to the best times for photovoltaic electric power generation. Further, even the coldest days of the year in Las Vegas are typically sunny enough to generate power. Homes that produce energy in Las Vegas can be more sustainable than homes that are energy hogs, even when they are located in cities with strong sustainability ethics like Portland, OR and Pittsburgh, PA.

Similarly, homes in Las Vegas can have a far smaller water footprint than other, ostensibly more sustainable cities. One key area can be found in outdoor landscapes. An interesting study by one of our graduate students, Carole Rollins, directed by my colleague and founding AESS member Helen Neill, found that after a few years in Las Vegas, people’s preferences shift from lawns to xeriscaping. A front yard with grass has become so normalized in the U.S. that people rarely question it. But in a dry place like Las Vegas you need to water cacti to keep them alive. The amount of water needed to keep grass alive is enormous. Keep in mind that the troubled Colorado River supplies Las Vegas as well as parts of six other states and northwestern Mexico. Xeriscaping, on the other hand, reduces exterior water use to a minimum while creating other ecosystem services. Careful design and behavior, both out and indoors, can have more sustainable outcomes than water guzzling (and pesticide intensive) landscapes elsewhere.

 

Xeriscaping example from Green Planet Landscaping in Las Vegas (source)

As a final example, it is true that there is little (although not zero) agriculture in Las Vegas. Nearly all food must be imported. For my presentation, I photographed collection of items from Trader Joe’s in Las Vegas that included California wine, European butter and pizza, tomatoes from Central America, and fruit from Africa. Any Trader Joe’s in the United States had the same offerings imported from the same faraway places. This is the nature of our cities and speaks to the sustainability of our food system overall, not just what is happening in Las Vegas. Sustainability, in this view, can be found in efforts to reduce food waste, including energy associated with its production and transportation. This is not a place-specific effort; any city can work on food waste issues.

My argument is not that Las Vegas–or Tucson–serves as a paragon of sustainability. Rather, I challenge the assumption that places can’t be sustainable by merit of where they are located. Instead we should ask how we widen everyone’s opportunities to live more sustainably.

 

Sample of ENR2 from Kitchen Sink Studios (source)

At AESS’s 2017 meeting in Tucson, you’ll be impressed by the University of Arizona’s Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building’s innovative sustainable design. You will also find people associated with local government, academic, art, business, and other communities committed to living thoughtfully in a desert setting. I look forward to the discussions that meeting in the desert will provoke!

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AESS 2017 Call for Proposals Open

AESS is now accepting proposals for our 9th annual conference, June 21-24, 2017 in Tucson, AZ.

We’ve put out the call! We invite any interested to submit a proposal to lead a session or make a presentation at the 2017 annual meeting of the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) to be held on 21-24 June 2017 at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

AESS is now accepting proposals for individual paper and poster presentations, as well as proposals for full panels, workshops, discussion symposia, and mealtime roundtables. For proposed multi-person sessions please secure a commitment from participants prior to submitting a proposal. In addition, AESS will make every effort to group individual presentations together as thematic sessions. For more details, visit the Conference Proposal page.

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AESS 2017 Conference Team

Introducing AESS 2017 Programming and Planning Team Members

Planning for AESS 2017 is underway. Each year our conference is made possible by the dedicated efforts of our Conference Chair and On-Site Coordinator. This year we are pleased to have Valerie Rountree and Angie Brown on the team. Ms. Rountree will serve as Conference Chair and Ms. Brown will be our invaluable Conference Coordinator at the University of Arizona. In addition to these two positions, we also depend on the volunteer efforts of the Program Committee. If you are interested in serving on the committee to review abstracts, contact Leslie Grey.

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Valerie Rountree

A dedicated AESS member, Valerie is a Ph.D. student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. Prior to attending the UA, Valerie received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puget Sound and worked as a science educator and researcher in Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Arizona. Her dissertation research looks at the processes by which stakeholders participate in decision making related to renewable energy in U.S. states. This is Valerie’s first time as AESS Program Chair.

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Angie Brown

As the University of Arizona Institute of the Environment’s event coordinator, Angie manages the logistical organization of a variety of events, including a wide array of workshops, forums, symposiums, lectures, conferences, and other events. Angie, nicknamed “The Event-a-tron” by clients, brings exceptional event planning skills honed through coordinating and managing hundreds of meetings and events. Angie is well versed in working hand-in-hand with scientists, engineers, environmental planners, and others in academia to bring complex scientific and technical information to the public in an easy-to-understand and engaging format. Additionally, Angie manages space requests and reservations in the UA’s new LEED-platinum ENR2 building, assisting outside event coordinators with logistical arrangements.

AESS 2017 will be held June 21-24 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Our call for proposals will be distributed in the next week. If you are not an AESS member, please ensure you’ve signed up to receive information about the conference. Info will also be forwarded to the AESS listserv.

Sponsorship and advertising opportunities will be available. More details will be announced soon. Individual donations are formally acknowledged and can be made on our donation page.

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AESS 2017 Conference Theme

2017 Conference Theme Announced

AESS is pleased to announce the theme for our 9th annual conference:

2017 Theme, Environment, Wellness, Community

AESS 2017 Conference Theme

 

And with this announcement, a challenge from AESS president David Hassenzahl:

Soon, the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) will issue a call for proposals for the June 21 – 24 AESS Conference in Tucson. Our theme this year is Environment, Wellness, and Community. I encourage all of you to begin conversations around this theme before we get to Tucson, and continue those conversations afterwards.

Interdisciplinarity is a foundational AESS principle, but is not a goal per se. Rather, working across disciplines is what we must do when important questions cannot be answered by a single discipline. But to effectively address “environment, wellness, and community,” even working across disciplines is likely to be inadequate and unsatisfying. At AESS 2017 I look forward to presentations, papers, posters, panels, and performances that explore how AESS can engage AND BE ENGAGED BY communities whose wellbeing is impacted by environmental conditions.

I challenge AESS to explore how we can broaden our conception of environmental wellbeing by considering:

  • Who poses questions and establishes research agendas?
  • Who provides, synthesizes, and shares information?
  • Who generates and evaluates solutions?
  • Do our answers to the three questions above represent a just approach to environment, wellness, and community?

Please engage in this exploration through the AESS listserve, at the AESSonline.org site, and at our Facebook page by suggesting topics, seeking collaborators, and extending (or counterchallenging) my list.

I also welcome suggestions for keynotes and plenary sessions, and as always welcome AESS volunteers! dhassenzahl@aessonline.org


Calls for proposals will come out in the fall. If you would like to receive updates about this conference, please sign up for email updates below.

NOTE: AESS Members will receive updates to their account email, as long as they have opted in to receive correspondence from us. All conference details will be shared with the listserv members, too.

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Conference sponsorship opportunities will be available for both groups and individual donors. Look for a future announcement with details.

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