AESS News Bulletins

JESS Issue Release

Announcing the March 2017 issue of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

A sampling of the Table of Contents can be found below. View full list.

Note: AESS Members receive full access to JESS. If you would like to become a member to access JESS, join today!

To submit a piece for publication, review guidelines.

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BBS: Social and Ecological System Dynamics


We are excited to announce that Social and Ecological System Dynamics: Characteristics, Trends, and Integration in the Lake Tana Basin, Ethiopia, Edited by Krystyna Stave, Goraw Goshu Yemer, and Shimelis Aynalem,  is the first book in our Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Sciences Series.

From the Springer book page:

This book is a social—ecological system description and feedback analysis of the Lake Tana Basin, the headwater catchment of the Upper Blue Nile River.  This basin is an important local, national, and international resource, and concern about its sustainable development is growing at many levels.  Lake Tana Basin outflows of water, sediments, nutrients, and contaminants affect water that flows downstream in the Blue Nile across international boundaries into the Nile River; the lake and surrounding land have recently been proposed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; the basin has been designated as a key national economic growth corridor in the Ethiopian Growth and Transformation Plan.  In spite of the Lake Tana Basin’s importance, there is no comprehensive, integrated, system-wide description of its characteristics and dynamics that can serve as a basis for its sustainable development.  This book presents both the social and ecological characteristics of the region and an integrated, system-wide perspective of the feedback links that shape social and ecological change in the basin.  Finally, it summarizes key research needs for sustainable development.

Series Editor-in-Chief (and Past AESS President) Wil Burns writes:

I am really pleased that Springer has published the first of many anticipated contributions to our AESS branded book series. This volume reflects the unique interdisciplinary perspectives that we hope to bring to bear in all of our publications in the series. It should prove to be a valuable publication both for those with a particular interest in this region, as well as those looking for lessons that could be applied in other contexts where the interface of social dynamics, development and ecological system integrity are critical considerations. I look forward to continuing to work with our partner, Springer, and the AESS community to publish more the valuable research of our members and colleagues.

This book is published by Springer, and is available as an E-book in many academic library collections. It can also be accessed here:

Purpose of the Branded Book Series (BBS):

To explore the intersection of natural science, law, policy and action, while informed by the social sciences, and highlight the power of interdisciplinary focus as opposed to traditional disciplinary silos. The series initial targets are energy and health.

The series is managed by

Past AESS President Wil Burns, Editor-in-Chief.

Board of Senior Editors:

  • Wil Burns, School of International Service, American University
  • David Downie, Fairfield University, member
  • Tony Rosenbaum, University of Florida, member
  • David Sonnenfeld, State University of New York, member
  • William Winner, North Carolina State University, member

The full board will be expanded to nine members in the very near future, which will reflect ethnic and gender diversity along with discipline and topic diversity.

Please email with inquiries.


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AESS Supports the March for Science

AESS Supports the March for Science

The Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences encourages its members and others to consider joining one of the many “March for Science” events taking place around the country on April 22, 2017. Sound environmental decisions, be they personal, community, business, or governmental, rely on high quality, publicly accessible science. Science that serves the public good must be supported by public resources, undertaken by qualified individuals, reviewed by appropriate peer experts, and published in broadly available venues.

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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!


David M. Hassenzahl, PhD

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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Bringing values back to policy debates

There is wide and increasing support for the notion that we are living in a time of ‘post-truth politics,’ particularly in the US and the UK, where decision makers are ‘tired of experts,’ are wielding ‘alternative facts,’ and ‘pants on fire’ is no longer a shocking description of truth claims that emerge from our federal governments.  Indeed, many of us in environmental studies have found it deeply troubling to witness such rejection of the general consensus around what is happening to the world’s climate (and why) and the central, essential role of state-governed environmental protections.  More broadly, it is troubling, if not downright panic-inspiring, to witness contempt and dismissal for environmental knowledge and the institutions that facilitate its creation, dissemination, and implementation. Recent, but far from unique examples, come from this month’s events at the US Environmental Protection Agency, where the Administrator has expressed

“Values” cc permission via flickr.

skepticism that human activity is the primary contributor to climate change.  Then, despite numerous historic and contemporary studies showing how environmental hazards are experienced disproportionately in the US (and globally) by vulnerable communities (for examples from across the US, see, Bullard, 2000; Pulido, 2000; Krieg and Faber, 2004), the very existence of the Office of Environmental Justice has been threatened with defunding.

But as the scientific and research communities rally together through listservs, conferences, and demonstrations in defense of knowledge as the preeminent policy input, it seems an opportune moment to reconsider the modernist promise of evidence-based policy and speaking truth to power.  Increasingly, analysts and scholars question the linear model of policy science (for example, see Beck, 2011), a model that hyperbolizes the uni-directionality of the science-policy interface. In other words, that knowledge is created in a social vacuum and then informs policy in an objective way.  Indeed, new and ‘better’ knowledge can contribute to policy improvements, but rarely can it catalyze policy changes alone.  Is this the moment for a more forceful assertion of facts, a ‘truth bomb’ to obliterate policies that are based on political expediency?  Or is it the moment to understand policy-relevant knowledge as necessarily (not accidentally nor sub-optimally) co-produced with values (for more on coproduction, see, Jasanoff (Ed.), 2004)?

This does not give carte blanche to political leaders to fashion and promote claims that disregard science and public well-being. Neither, however, does it mean that in some ideal world, policy making would become fundamentally, a research exercise.  The coproduction of knowledge and values, rather, underlines the importance expanding, not restricting democratic engagement, through improved public engagement with science, citizen participation in decision-making, and most importantly, deliberation, whereby people can assert their own perspectives and interests, but also develop the capacity and willingness to consider others’ perspectives and perhaps even change their minds.  Deliberation and increased communication and democratic engagement seem less and less feasible as divisive and inflammatory discourses become increasingly the norm.  But as the challenge grows, so does the importance of developing deliberative norms, both personally and professionally.

We need facts and knowledge to make ‘good’ policy decisions.  But we also need an explicit recognition of the centrality of values.  For some, the shift from evidence-based to more deliberative, value-based approaches ‘cheapens’ policy debates, and creates an ‘anything goes’ kind of scenario – debates lose traction because everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Indeed, challenging someone’s facts seems more grounded and less personal than challenging their values in a society that venerates the individual and individual freedoms.  But if values are undermined as a policy luxury, and peripheral to good decision-making, then debates will always remain partial, and insufficiently substantiated.

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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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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.


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.


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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JESS Issue Release

Announcing the December 2016 issue of the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

Below are a few of the articles you will find in this issue:

Goodsite, M. E., Bertelsen, R. G., Cassotta Pertoldi-Bianchi, S., Ren, J., van der Watt, L.-M., & Johannsson, H. (2016). The role of science diplomacy: a historical development and international legal framework of arctic research stations under conditions of climate change, post-cold war geopolitics and globalization/power transition. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 6(4), 645-661. doi:10.1007/s13412-015-0329-6 

The lead essay identifies and assesses the science diplomatic role of Arctic research stations. It explores three questions on the science diplomacy role and international legal framework of research stations in an Arctic characterized by transformation driven by climate change, post-Cold War geopolitics and globalization/ power transition. Arctic research stations play the role of diplomatic “intermediaries” bridging science, geopolitics and globalization. At least in the case of the USA, the primary motivation for establishing research stations in the Arctic has shifted from military security purposes (especially surveillance) to stations having broader mandates, related to environmental security, with climate change as a main driver. From an international law perspective, there is a need to have a stronger regulation on the interconnection between science and law clarifying the role of research stations to ensure that research stations are used effectively for peaceful purposes. The role of stations in the Arctic can become a constructive example to address issues of the nexus between climate change, science diplomacy, geopolitics, law and globalization that is shaping the future of the Arctic in the coming years. Stations have, in many cases, and will continue to reinforce international cooperation and collaboration through international research initiatives and programs. Results of the 2016 US election and the actual current geo-political environment underscore their relevance and the importance of continue to explore the three questions and other issues around the role of science diplomacy.

Bratman, E., Brunette, K., Shelly, D. C., & Nicholson, S. (2016). Justice is the goal: divestment as climate change resistance. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 6(4), 677-690. doi:10.1007/s13412-016-0377-6

This article explores campus fossil fuel divestment as a movement that politically engages resistance to the actions, forces, and structures that are producing climate change. Through re-politicizing sustainability, the divestment movement creates new challenges to traditional power structures and offers new modes and frameworks for environmental action. The case study in this paper explores the Fossil Free American University campaign and deploys an auto-ethnographic approach to understand specific elements including the place of climate justice, radical perspectives, and inside-outside strategies informed the campaign. We argue that the campus fossil fuel divestment movement holds potential to change the university’s expressed values from complicity with fossil fuel economies toward an emergent paradigm of climate justice. As a form of ecological resistance, the campus divestment movement approaches the political economy of fossil fuel exploitation as the foundation for shifting the paradigm of climate change discourse and action.

Linquiti, P., & Cogswell, N. (2016). The Carbon Ask: effects of climate policy on the value of fossil fuel resources and the implications for technological innovation. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 6(4), 662-676. doi:10.1007/s13412-016-0397-2 

Linquiti and Cogswell compute the Carbon Ask – the reduction in wealth that will be experienced by the global fossil fuel enterprise as the result of policies to limit global warming – at $185 trillion. The fossil fuel enterprise is not just big multinational oil and gas companies, but also includes the governments, investors, firms, and workers who explore for, produce, transport, distribute, and sell oil, natural gas, and coal. Common sense suggests that when the holders of $185 trillion in wealth are asked to surrender it for the greater good of the planet, they will have powerful incentives to resist a strong climate policy. To the extent they also hold political power, they may be able to impede progress. Accordingly, they speculate that if climate advocates continue to push tough carbon policies, then the political fights in America’s coal country are probably a harbinger of things to come in all fossil fuel industries. Transitional assistance to workers, communities, and possibly even firms, could not only improve the welfare of those entities on the receiving end of the Carbon Ask, it might also temper political opposition to climate policy.

Professor of Political Science
University of Central Florida
Note: AESS Members receive full access to JESS. If you would like to become a member to access JESS, join today!
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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 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!

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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