NEWS RELEASE: Former Clinton Adviser Tells Colleges to Get Radical and Work Outside the System

In a speech marked by pointed criticism of American environmentalism, James Gustave “Gus” Speth told regional colleges this weekend “It’s time for a new environmentalism” and for “going back to the ideas of the 1960s and early 1970s, rediscovering their more radical roots, and stepping outside the system in order to change it before it is too late.” (Left: Michelle Land and Gus Speth)

Former Clinton Adviser Tells Colleges to Get Radical and Work Outside the System–

Warns Higher Education Consortium of “The Specter of Failure.” Calls for Redesign of Environmental Education

PLEASANTVILLE – In a speech marked by pointed criticism of American environmentalism, James Gustave “Gus” Speth told regional colleges this weekend “It’s time for a new environmentalism” and for “going back to the ideas of the 1960s and early 1970s, rediscovering their more radical roots, and stepping outside the system in order to change it before it is too late.”

Speaking at Pace University, the former adviser to Presidents Clinton and Carter and former Yale University Dean pulled no punches with the Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities.

“The environment continues to go downhill, fast,” he told the group. “Bottom line:  a specter is haunting U.S. environmentalists — the specter of failure.”

Now a professor at Vermont Law School, Speth made headlines in 2011 when he was arrested and jailed for three days following an environmental protest at the White House.

Echoing Speth’s theme, Michelle Land, Director of the Pace University Academy for Applied Environmental Studies and Director of the Consortium, told the 124 representatives from colleges and universities, “It is our duty in the decade ahead to use our unique resources to transform our region into a world capital of environmental research, education and knowledge. . . Never have our collective talents and resources been more needed. And never has our duty to the future of the human and natural world been more clear.”

Land stunned the audience with an assessment of the size and impact of the region’s colleges and universities which she said number 130, and teach 870,000 students, employ 93,000 staff and faculty, occupy more than 40,000 acres of land and consume more than 20 billion gallons of water annually.

“Collectively, we are the largest community in the Hudson-Mohawk watershed, and the second largest community in the state of New York,” she said.

Speth was presented with the Environmental Consortium’s Great Work Award, in honor of Father Thomas Berry, former Riverdale resident and environmental author, and delivered his keynote address on Saturday.

Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs at Pace, John Cronin, said, “Professor Speth is calling on us to radicalize or face environmental failure. He sees higher education as an institution that has the talent, knowledge and influence to lead society to success.”

Speth’s message to teachers and students was clear on that point: “We environmentalists can legitimately claim many victories but we are losing the struggle–losing the overall effort to pass our beleaguered planet on to our children and grandchildren. . . My hope is that you can help redesign the university’s approach to environmental studies, and environmental education generally, in a way that embraces the true keys to environmental success.”

About the Conference

Other conference highlights included the opening keynote by David Hales, President, Second Nature, on Friday. Hales spoke about living sustainably in the future climate. He believes that while evidence of climate change mounts, colleges and their communities are not prepared and have not assessed the impacts of climate on their missions, curriculum, infrastructure, operations, students, workforce, investments, and endowments.

“Institutions of higher education have a responsibility to create research-based knowledge aimed at assessing and responding to climate impacts and to prepare themselves and help others prepare,” said Hales.

Plenaries included “Preparing our Campuses for an Uncertain Future” (Fri.) moderated by Andrew Revkin, New York Times Dot Earth blogger and Senior Fellow of Environmental Understanding at Pace; and “The Middlebury Campus as a Learning Laboratory via the Classroom and the Boardroom” (Sat.) moderated by Jack Byrne, Director of Sustainability Integration at Middlebury College.

Revkin pointed out at the end of his panel that it is important to know your audience when framing discussions of climate resilience, because – in the business world particularly — “Not everyone believes climate change is a clear and present danger” but almost everyone agrees that it’s a bad idea to build in harm’s way.

Breakout sessions included discussions of various topics on sustainability in higher education. On Friday afternoon, Professor Ghassan Karam, a Pace University environmental economist, led a spirited discussion of limits to growth in which Liu Mingming, a visiting associate professor of environmental law from Shandong University of Science and Technology, took the stance that developing countries cannot be denied the right to advance their economies. There was wide agreement that the status quo is not sustainable and that universities play a vital role in testing new ideas.

There was also an exhibitor expo and musical performance by Revkin’s Breakneck Ridge Revue.

Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities:

The Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities was established in 2004 to advance our understanding of the cultural, social, political, economic and natural factors affecting the region, and currently has 60 member institutions. By promoting collaboration among its members, the Consortium works to provide ecosystem-based curricular and co-curricular programming aimed at improving the health of the regional ecosystem. The mission of the Environmental Consortium is to harness higher education’s intellectual and physical resources to advance regional, ecosystem-based environmental research, teaching, and learning with a special emphasis on the greater Hudson-Mohawk River watershed.

Spearheaded and hosted by Pace University, the Consortium’s headquarters is situated within the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies in Pleasantville, New York.  Among Pace Academy’s stated goals is to externally apply the university’s strengths to local and global environmental problems. As a testament to its commitment to interdisciplinary pedagogy, scholarship and service, the Academy provides essential administrative support that grounds the Consortium’s programs.

Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies: Pace Academy is the first of several centers envisioned by Pace University’s President, Stephen J. Friedman, to promote high-level collaborative and interdisciplinary programming in key thematic, academic areas throughout the University. The Academy is a freestanding institute that renews and deepens the University’s long-standing commitment to environmental research, scholarship, and service.

Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies builds on its predecessor, the Pace Academy for the Environment, created in 2002 and known for regional leadership spearheading the formation of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities and serving as the incubation office for the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, which concentrates on applied technological innovation.

The current breadth and depth of Pace University’s environmental programming is evidenced by globally recognized undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs augmented by related curricular, co-curricular, experiential, and service programs centered on the environment.

Contact: Cara Cea, (914) 906-9680, ccea@pace.edu.

 

Sustain What? Colleges Gather to Question Their Environmental Role

Presidential Adviser Turned Activist to Be Honored by Higher Education Consortium

“Environmental sustainability” may be a catch phrase of the 21st century, but who knows what it really means?  The Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities will wrestle with that problem at its tenth annual conference Friday and Saturday. On hand to lend guidance will be James Gustave Speth, former adviser to President Bill Clinton and founder of the World Resources Institute. 72 year-old Speth made headlines in August 2010 when he was arrested at the White House for protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Event: Tenth Annual Conference of the Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities.

Date and Time: Friday, November 8, 8:30 AM – 7:00 PM; Saturday, November 9, 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.

Location: Pace University, Kessel Student Center, 861 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY, entrance 3.

“Our colleges and universities occupy more than 40,000 acres of land in the Hudson-Mohawk watershed, and employ, teach and house more than 1 million people in over 100 different locations,” said Michelle Land, director of both the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies and the Environmental Consortium. “Our job is to make sense of what ‘environmental sustainability’ means to that complex picture.” Land will give welcome remarks at the conference.

David Hales, President of Second Nature, will deliver the opening keynote on Fri., Nov. 8.  Prior to assuming this post, Hales was President of College of the Atlantic, the first U.S. institution of higher education to be a “NetZero” emitter of greenhouse gases.

James Gustave “Gus” Speth, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School will be presented with the Environmental Consortium’s “The Great Work Award, in honor of Thomas Berry” and deliver a keynote on Saturday.

The conference is open to the public. The rate for people affiliated with institutions in the Environmental Consortium is $20 for students ($30 for non-members), $100 for members ($125 for non-members).  Group discounts and single day registrations available ($50 for members, $65 for non-members). The fee includes admission to conference, meals and breaks, Friday reception, dinner and music, exhibitor expo, and poster session. Media admission is by press pass.

NEWS RELEASE: Pace University Students March a Mile with Buckets to Raise Money for Clean Water in Tanzania

Today one hundred twenty Pace University students marched a mile with buckets of water on their heads to reenact the grueling task thousands in the developing world endure each day to provide water for their families. $5,000 was raised for Engineers Without Borders, Northern New Jersey Professional Chapter, to create a community water well in Islanjandugu, Tanzania.

Pace University Students March a Mile with Buckets to Raise Money for Clean Water in Tanzania

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, April 20, 2013 – Today one hundred twenty Pace University students marched a mile with buckets of water on their heads to reenact the grueling task thousands in the developing world endure each day to provide water for their families. But the students’ burdens were eased knowing $5,000 would be donated to Engineers Without Borders, Northern New Jersey Professional Chapter, to create a community water well in Islanjandugu, Tanzania.

The Walk for World Water, organized by the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies in partnership with Pace Athletics, began at the Pace student center and streamed onto Bedford Road in Pleasantville, where dozens of cars honked their support for the unusual parade. The students, carrying orange buckets high in the air, were led by the university’s athletic teams. The water walkers reentered the campus and returned to their starting point, where students were relieved to lower their buckets and ease their aching arms, necks, and shoulders.

The event was also co-sponsored by Pace’s Golden Key International Honour Society, Sigma Iota Chi and Peace and Justice Society.  The Home Depot generously provided funding for the buckets.

“Ours was a small effort compared to what happens in some communities throughout the developing world,” said Michelle Land, Pace Academy’s director. “The task falls to women and children to haul water, often of terrible quality, in some cases as far as four miles. Things we take for granted here, such as a faucet in the home, are beyond their experience.”

“You can tell people stories and show them pictures of what it is like to travel miles for water, but until they do it themselves or travel to these countries, they won’t understand,” said Chinyere Ojini, project leader for the Tanzania project, and communications specialist for AECOM. “But because of this event, students at Pace now understand what it is like to have to do this every day.”

About Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies: A freestanding institute within the Office of the Provost, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies is a university-wide initiative to renew and deepen Pace’s time-honored commitment to environmental research, scholarship, and service.  Because the study of the environment is inherently interdisciplinary, the Pace Academy engages expertise across departments within Pace’s schools and colleges. The mission of Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies is to advance the understanding of the mutually enhancing relationship between nature and society through a University-wide program of interdisciplinary pedagogy, scholarship, policy development and service.  Pace Academy also serves as the headquarters for the Environmental Consortium of Colleges & Universities.  www.pace.edu/academy

About Pace University: Since 1906, Pace University has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

Westchester Magazine: Top 8 Leaders in Westchester

Three of Westchester Magazine’s top 8 leaders in Westchester County are from Pace. “The Riverkeeper” John Cronin, “The Eco-advocate” Nick Robinson and “The Cyber-Security ‘Type’ ” Logan Romm were all featured with interviews and photos among the top 8 in a recent article in the magazine.

Three of Westchester Magazine’s top 8 leaders in Westchester County are from Pace. “The Riverkeeper” John Cronin, “The Eco-advocate” Nick Robinson and “The Cyber-Security ‘Type’ ” Logan Romm were all featured with interviews and photos among the top 8 in a recent article in the magazine.

From Westchester Magazine about the 8 leaders:

… “Westchesterites are looking at our biggest issues and, hopefully, will alter the way we live for the better. They’re impacting Westchester, New York, the USA, and the whole world. These are the 2013 Game Changers.”

About John Cronin, Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies:

“You can go on your iPhone, and you can know temperature, humidity, and wind speed in Johannesburg, South Africa, in real time,” says John Cronin, senior fellow for Environmental Affairs at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies in Pleasantville. “But there’s nobody who can tell you—in real time—what’s in your glass of drinking water.”

The fact is disconcerting, but Cronin, 62, aims to change it. He’s organized dropping  sensors in the Hudson and its tributaries to monitor water quality and conditions. But Cronin wants to go further. In addition to changing how we keep our river clean—a project he’s been working on for 40 years—he wants to change the partnerships we enlist to help solve environmental problems.

In October 1973, Cronin was working painting houses when he met Pete Seeger at an event for Seeger’s environmental advocacy and educational vessel, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. The two men embarked on a volunteer project: As Seeger sang sea shanties and yodeled, the folk icon brought Cronin into the environmental world. Seeger would insist that, “‘if we all work together, we can clean up the Hudson River.’ I thought that idea was ludicrous,” says Cronin. “The River was huge, horribly polluted.” Nonetheless, inspired by Seeger, Cronin began a career in environmental issues, eventually taking stints advising Republican Congressman Hamilton Fish, Jr., and Democratic New York State Assemblyman Maurice Hinchey.

“I was hooked,” he says. “I went from thinking Pete was out of his mind to thinking that, if you were determined enough, you could make an enormous difference.” Becoming the inaugural Hudson Riverkeeper in 1983, Cronin acted as the clean-water advocate for the River and its tributaries, which provide 9 million New Yorkers with drinking water.

Thanks to Cronin’s media savvy and some real luck—while filming a segment for NBC news, he came upon an Exxon oil tanker discharging pollutants just 1,500 feet from drinking water—and the program took off. Soon, there was a Soundkeeper for Long Island, then a Baykeeper in San Francisco. Today, there are more than 200 similar programs all over the world. During his time as Riverkeeper, Cronin took on all kinds of polluters: New York City, for instance, was dumping 1.5 billion gallons of sewage into the River every day. But many of those on the opposite side of litigation were corporations.

In the past decade, however, Cronin began to formulate different ideas about problem-solving on the environment. He felt that we were “mostly operating under twentieth-century models when twenty-first-century problems need all the talent, all the skills we can muster—no mater where they come from.” Enforcement was still a primary goal, he thought, but the expertise, technology, and capital available in the private sector were nothing to eschew, either. In 2004, he founded the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, which is today part of Clarkson University, with just this collaborative goal in mind.

One alliance, with Armonk-based IBM, has proved crucial in Cronin’s water-monitoring efforts. John Kelly, a senior vice president and director of Yorktown’s IBM Research (who oversees some 3,000 scientists in laboratories around the world), agrees that Cronin’s ideas are the future. “I think he embodies a visionary who can identify what’s really important through all the clutter. Other people were dreaming, but he knew what to do. His ideas are contagious, and he has the wherewithal to get it done.”

About Nick Robinson, University Professor and Gilbert & Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, Pace University:

“No, the fights for conservation and against climate change aren’t totally new. So, even if Pace University Law Professor Nicholas Robinson is at the center of both of those struggles, why do we think he also has the next big idea? It’s not just because he was around and affecting policy at the highest levels back when it was a new idea, although he was. Nor is it because his predictions about flooding recently have proven sadly accurate, although they have. It’s because, with all this experience, he knows exactly what we’re going to have to do about it all.

Robinson, of Sleepy Hollow, grew up mostly in Palo Alto, California, where he enjoyed outdoor activities like camping in the Sierras, but the East Coast-style air and water pollution he saw when he started college at Brown University in the early 1960s made him begin taking the study of environmental policy seriously. By 1972, just two years after Robinson graduated from Columbia Law School, New York had adopted his draft of the landmark Tidal Wetlands Act, and “the UN was waking up to the concerns of the environment,” says Robinson, 67. “I was asked by the Sierra Club to attend the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm.”

In the late 1970s, Robinson helped found one of the first environmental law programs in the country at Pace Law School. He was an advisor to Governor Mario Cuomo, general counsel and deputy commissioner of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and a treaty delegate to the Soviet Union under five presidents. As if all of that weren’t enough, he’s even made his mark on the County’s cultural life, orchestrating the donation of the old Philipse Manor train station to the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center for its headquarters in the late 1980s before such plans for renovation and re-use were common.

But it’s his international work that set the stage for him to establish some of the most important coming trends in the environmental movement. He has helped instruct environmental groups on what legal systems they’ll encounter in writing international treaties, harmonized treaties on endangered species that migrate across borders, and helped establish trans-boundary cooperation for contested areas like the Arctic Circle. “But locally, the same issues play out,” he says. Dealing with climate change means finding money for repairs, reinforcing or altering infrastructure, managing native flora to mitigate flooding, drafting environmental impact statements, and taking other measures that Robinson has long been a part of.

“I’ve been working with the faculty at our Pleasantville campus to organize the Pocantico River Watershed Conservancy,” he said, 12 days before Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey. “How should it be inter-managed to protect the downstream communities from flooding? It’s not a question of if; it’s only a question of when. We need to get ready for the ‘retreat from the coasts,’ moving infrastructure inland. If you have a road or a pipeline or a buffer right along a coastal area and you don’t help adapt where the river water can go, then you’re going to end up having storms cause a lot of property damage. We cannot save the Hudson River unless we better save the tributaries of the Hudson. We need to take the experiences we have around the world and begin actually solving our local problems. And then we have to share that with similarly situated people all over the world.”

About Seidenberg School student Logan Romm, keystroke biometrics researcher:

“If you’ve logged onto an online retailer’s website months after you last shopped there and found that you were still signed in or if you’ve ever noticed that your email was still logged in after returning from a vacation, then you can well imagine how easy it would be for a cyber bad guy to access your information. But if 27-year-old Logan Romm’s project takes off, those bad guys are going to have to work much harder.

The White Plains resident, who grew up in Rye Brook, has a full-time job as a marketing manager at Verizon, but it was his studies in Internet Technology at Pace University, where he earned his master’s in 2012, that are helping to close these security holes. Along with four other teammates (and dozens of graduate students who have put in time since the project started seven years ago), Romm is studying keystroke biometrics—in other words, identifying people by how they type—and developing its potential for security applications. There is, after all, a surprisingly large amount of data in keystrokes—how quickly people type certain letter combinations, how they scroll, if they prefer the number pad or the numbers above the letters—and, like a fingerprint or an iris, individuals’ typing characteristics are unique to them.

The applications of figuring out how to recognize those unique features are nearly limitless. Authenticating students taking tests online comes to mind. Corporations with proprietary research on their servers and governments with classified documents to protect are always looking for the next step in security. And, as Romm points out, this may be it. After all, passwords can be stolen or guessed, and a single entry often keeps users logged in to sensitive information for hours or even days after they leave the console. But monitoring keystrokes allows ongoing authentication of users, “so, even if an intruder gains access initially, if they are not behaving the way the actual user does then that access could be detected and the unauthorized user’s session could be terminated,” he says. The project’s director, Professor Charles Tappert, has been in touch with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the US Department of Defense, although nothing has been finalized.

Romm and his teammates began their work last year, but they were responsible for the meat of the seven-year-old project: collecting typing samples and analyzing them, including the first samples of people working on browsers.

“It’s getting harder and harder to create a secure a password,” Romm says, “but this definitely makes a lot of sense for the next level.”

Read the full article here.

Westchester.com: When Carnivores Become Neighbors Discussion

Westchester.com posted a story on Pace’s upcoming roundtable discussion, “When Carnivores Become Neighbors.”

Westchester.com listed information on the upcoming roundtable discussion, “When Carnivores Become Neighbors.”

From Westchester.com:

With bobcat, coyote and mountain lion sightings around Westchester County making headlines, the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies will hold a public roundtable discussion at Pace University in Pleasantville Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30p.m. on carnivore movement, impacts, and policy.

Environmental experts will discuss ways to balance carnivore and suburban human populations, exploring the ecological and social implications of “re-wilding” Westchester that has come about with changing landscapes and the adaptation of carnivores. The panel will consist of Conrad Reining, the Eastern Program Director of the Wildlands Network, and Pace professors Melissa Grigione, professor of biology and director of the environmental science graduate program; David Cassuto, environmental and animal law professor; and Michelle Land, professor of environmental policy and director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

Carnivores play an essential role in a balanced ecosystem and they provide us with an opportunity to preserve many of the remaining intact forests and open lands in North America. Carnivores also regulate “pest” species, such as rodents and help keep deer populations in check thereby reducing car collisions and Lyme Disease. Grigione and her students research and track carnivores to determine numbers and their migration patterns. She has been called upon by news media in recent years after sightings to share expertise gleaned from years of field research, often reassuring that humans are not in danger. Grigione adds, “In addition to their importance in the ecosystem, carnivores allow us to appreciate true wildness because many of the carnivore species will never fully cohabitate with humans.”

DETAILS:

WHAT: “When Carnivores Become Neighbors,” a roundtable discussion on living near carnivores

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 6:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.

WHERE: Pace University, 861 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY, entrance 3, Kessel Student Center, Gottesman Room.

WHO: Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies www.pace.edu/paaes/wildlife-westchester.

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP paceacademy@pace.edu.

View the press release on the event here.

NEWS RELEASE: Pace University Presents a Public Forum on Living with Carnivore Wildlife in Westchester

With bobcat, coyote and mountain lion sightings around Westchester County making headlines, the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies will hold a public roundtable discussion at Pace University in Pleasantville Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30p.m. on carnivore movement, impacts, and policy.

Pace University Presents a Public Forum on Living with Carnivore Wildlife in Westchester

Environmental experts will discuss the ecological and social implications of the “re-wilding” of Westchester in a roundtable discussion, “When Carnivores Become Neighbors”

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, Oct. 5, 2012 – With bobcat, coyote and mountain lion sightings around Westchester County making headlines, the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies will hold a public roundtable discussion at Pace University in Pleasantville Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30p.m. on carnivore movement, impacts, and policy.

Environmental experts will discuss ways to balance carnivore and suburban human populations, exploring the ecological and social implications of “re-wilding” Westchester that has come about with changing landscapes and the adaptation of carnivores. The panel will consist of Conrad Reining, the Eastern Program Director of the Wildlands Network, and Pace professors Melissa Grigione, professor of biology and director of the environmental science graduate program; David Cassuto, environmental and animal law professor; and Michelle Land, professor of environmental policy and director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

Carnivores play an essential role in a balanced ecosystem and they provide us with an opportunity to preserve many of the remaining intact forests and open lands in North America.  Carnivores also regulate “pest” species, such as rodents and help keep deer populations in check thereby reducing car collisions and Lyme Disease.  Grigione and her students research and track carnivores to determine numbers and their migration patterns. She has been called upon by news media in recent years after sightings to share expertise gleaned from years of field research, often reassuring that humans are not in danger.  Grigione adds, “In addition to their importance in the ecosystem, carnivores allow us to appreciate true wildness because many of the carnivore species will never fully cohabitate with humans.”

WHAT: “When Carnivores Become Neighbors,” a roundtable discussion on living near carnivores

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 6:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.

WHERE: Pace University, 861 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY, entrance 3, Kessel Student Center, Gottesman Room

WHO: Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies  www.pace.edu/paaes/wildlife-westchester

This event is free and open to the public. Media admission by press pass. RSVP paceacademy@pace.edu.

Media Contact: Cara Cea, ccea@pace.edu, 914-906-9680.

The Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies: The Academy is the first of several centers for excellence envisioned by Pace University’s President, Stephen Friedman, to promote high-level collaborative and interdisciplinary programming in key thematic, academic areas throughout the University. The Academy is a freestanding institute that renews and deepens the University’s long-standing commitment to environmental research, scholarship, and service.

Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies is dedicated to enhancing a mutually beneficial relationship between nature and society by harnessing the unique knowledge, talents and skills intrinsic to university life. www.pace.edu/paaes/

About Pace University: For 106 years, Pace has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

Visit Pace on the web: Pace.edu | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube.

Patch.com: Count Your Eels Here

The eels are here in the tributaries of the Hudson, where citizen scientists like Pace University’s Theresa Pellecchia, are catching and counting these slithery creatures to find out why their populations are declining.

Patch.com featured the field research of political science graduate student, Theresa Pellecchia.

From Patch.com:

It’s eel season in the Hudson and though that might not have you excited, there is one local grad student who has fallen in love with these slithery creatures of our waterways.

Theresa Pellecchia, from Brewster, is doing her master’s thesis project for Pace University on eels through a program sponsored by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Citizen scientists are currently studying eels, as they do annually, in various tributaries of the Hudson River.

Every day at low tide for months—from mid-March to early June—Pellecchia visits the Pocantico where it cuts through DeVries playground to gather, count and move the baby eels her so-called “fyke” net has caught in the night. The light-sensitive eels only travel at night and the large net that is embedded across a third of the stream has holes small enough to only catch the smallest ones. Bigger eels, she said, are there, they just aren’t getting caught.

The eels, supposedly born in the Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea (this is only suspected and has never been proven), journey all the way here en route to the fresh water where they will spend much of their lives. Once they hit fresh water, some of the all-male young will turn female, “we hope,” Pellecchia said with two enthusiastic thumbs up. They will return after about three decades to spawn in the Sargasso, and die.

In the Pocantico, in the brackish water (a mix of fresh and salty), Pellecchia catches one-year-olds who are kept from progressing further by the dam in Philipsburg Manor. If they can’t get to fresh water, there’s no chance they’ll turn female and therefore reproduce.

If you don’t think eels are important, Pellecchia will have you convinced. They are an essential element of the ecosystem and the natural food chain that humans are messing with. American eels, Pellecchia said, are surpassing the depleted Japanese eels in the sushi market. Eels caught largely in Maine actually get shipped to Japan, repackaged and sold back to the States.

Meanwhile, right here in our region, the eel population seems to be on the decline for other unknown causes. The DEC and its volunteers are trying to figure out why.

The babies don’t much resemble the black five-foot creature that these things can become. They are called glass eels for the first phase of their lives, and are transparent. “You can see their little hearts beating,” Pellecchia said. On the day we met with her, she catches eight babies and four “elvers” (kid eels), a pretty good haul. Her record here is 30 eels, while some sites under the DEC study have been known to catch hundreds or even thousands a day.

Pellecchia is testing the conditions that may make our site particularly slow for the eels – she takes air and water temperature and monitors water quality. She wonders too if the former GM plant has something to do with it.

Of course, while other eel watchers might have the luxury of a more woodsy and private locale, Pellecchia is just feet away from the popular redone playground. Kids wander over and ooh and ahh (or ick) at her eels. She is a natural teacher and gets everyone excited about her research, as she mucks about with her companion Rob Benitez (school policy requires she always bring a buddy for this work) in waders and scoops up eels out of the funnel of a net with her bare hands. Then she displays them to the small crowd of little people. For added viewer fun, she takes them out of the blue bucket and places them in a clear baggy where the glass eels and bigger kids glisten and squirm.

Then it’s off to the Manor restoration where she releases her catch above the manmade dam. From there it’s onwards and upwards, upstream to fresh water. “We’ll help them out a little bit,” Pellecchia said as she released her little bag of eels above the dam, “And…there they go.”

Count Your Eels Here [VIDEO] – Rivertowns, NY Patch.

NYTimes.com Dot Earth: From Bark to Bottle – a Cork Story

Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding Andrew Revkin wrote about his experience co-teaching the Producing the Documentary course with communications professor Maria Luskay.This year, the students in the course traveled to Portugal to film the story of cork.

Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding Andrew Revkin wrote about his experience co-teaching the Producing the Documentary course with communications professor Maria Luskay.This year, the students in the course traveled to Portugal to film the story of cork.

From the NY Times.com:

For the second year, I’ve co-taught a documentary production course at Pace University in which a team of graduate and undergraduate communication students travels on spring break not to lounge on a beach, but to shoot a short film with an environmental theme. Last year’s film focused on an American woman working for decades in Belize to farm shrimp with limited environmental impacts.

This year, the destination was Portugal and the subject was cork.

For centuries, this versatile material — harvested by stripping the bark from a certain oak species once every decade or so — was the only choice for sealing wine bottles. At its peak, the trade supported thousands of workers, from bark-stripping crews in the rural communities around the forests to the factory workers in towns like Coruche, in southern Portugal.

It also sustained ecosystems that, while heavily shaped and exploited by humans, have long been a haven for wildlife, from the critically endangered Iberian lynx to the imperial eagle.

But in recent years, wine producers, concerned about quality control and cost, started shifting to plastic stoppers and plastic-lined aluminum screw caps, which ended up capturing about a third of the billion-dollar wine-closure business. The competition prompted the cork industry, led by the company Amorim, to improve its operations, develop new lines of products and push back with an offbeat online marketing campaign centered on the comic actor Rob Schneider.

The public relations tussle alone is quite the story, including dueling YouTube videos (“Sniff the Cork” and “Vive le Screwcap” are two contestants) and a mock “funeral for the cork” staged in 2002 in a dining room at Grand Central Terminal by Randall Grahm, the screw-cap-favoring owner of the Bonny Doon Vineyard in northern California.

The students traveled the length of Portugal, from the vineyards draped on the steep slopes of the extraordinary Douro Valley in the north to the cork forests of the south. Then came weeks of video and sound editing under the direction of Pace Professor Maria Luskay, who invented this course more than a decade ago. In 15 short minutes they tell a layered story that follows the largely unappreciated journey of cork, from quiet forests through bustling factories and jangling bottling plants to your table or restaurant. [May 8, 1:24 p.m. | Update | Click here for a note on the project’s neutrality and financial independence.]

They created an engaging blog charting their path and also chronicled the process on YouTube, from Lou Guarneri strumming for the soundtrack to the actor Kurt Rhoads using his Shakespeare-honed skills to catch just the right tone on the opening word, “Cork.”

There’s something important under way in such projects, in which communication and journalism students can attack stories that might otherwise be missed as traditional news media both shrink and tend to focus their cameras on bad apples instead of best practices. We need both.

With appropriate guidance, students can not only develop story-and idea-sharing skills that mesh written and audiovisual output, but put those skills to use even as they learn, potentially playing a role in fostering progress on a finite planet. It’s one thing to learn how to write a script or operate a camera; it’s another to learn how to make a difference.

The journalism program at the University of British Columbia has been doing fine work, with a recent package on environmental and labor problems related to shrimp farming in Southeast Asia (essentially the flip side of what the Pace team found in Belize) and now — accompanying a print article in The New York Times — a a video report on the impact of Brazil’s latest wave of dam construction on indigenous tribes in the Amazon River basin.

View the full article with video clip here:

From Bark to Bottle – a Cork Story – NYTimes.com.

The Journal News: Around the Campus

Pace communications students in Maria Luskay’s and Andrew Revkin’s Producing the Documentary course were featured in an article in Education Outlook, a supplement of The Journal News.

Pace communications students in Maria Luskay’s and Andrew Revkin’s Producing the Documentary course were featured in an article in Education Outlook, a supplement of The Journal News.

From the article:

“Pace University students will travel to Portugal to produce a University documentary “Battle Behind the Bottle: A Film On The Cork Question” examining the connection between the bottle of wine on your restaurant table and the cork – a substance that impacts the fate of forests that are repositories for wildlife across Southern Europe and parts of North Africa, and a source of livelihood for 100,000 people. The 2012 course will focus on the cork industry in Portugal and students will write, shoot and produce a documentary during a 7-day trip to Porto, Coruche & Lisbon.”

A premiere of the documentary will be held at Pace University on May 2 at 7:30pm in Pace’s Willcox Hall auditorium, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, NY.

Read the full article on lohud.com:

Around the Campus | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com.

Read the student blog here.

The Journal News, News 12 and The Daily Pleasantville: Pleasantville’s Pace Gets Solar Classroom

Pace unveiled its new solar classroom, funded by Con Edison, and The Journal News, News 12 and The Daily Pleasantville reported on the event. (Left: Angelo Spillo, director of the Environmental Center at Pace, addresses the crowd at Thursday’s solar panel unveiling. Photo credit: Brian Marschhauser)

Pace unveiled its new solar classroom, thanks in part to a grant from Con Edison, and The Journal News, News 12, The Daily Pleasantville and Patch.com reported on the event.

From The Daily Pleasantville:

Sunny skies aptly shined down on the Pace University campus Thursday afternoon as its Environmental Center celebrated the opening of its new solar-powered classroom.

“Can you feel the electricity being made?” said Angelo Spillo, director of the Environmental Center.

The panels were funded by Con Edison, which awarded Pace with a $15,000 grant as part of its effort to expand solar development in New York. A similar initiative was also signed into action by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday.

“A lot of times we have so much dialogue and you see much going on back and forth as far as solar industry and solar power at this point,” said County Legislator Michael Smith. “A lot of what you read is just the talk. This is the doing, and we need more doing and we need less talk.”

While the solar panels will help the center save money on its electrical bill, Spillo said that was not the motivation behind its installation. The equipment will instead be used as a teaching tool.

“One of the things we wanted to do was keep this equipment visible,” Spillo said. “If you were doing it in a home, you would want to hide it, you would want to put it in the basement, it’s kind of unsightly. In our case, we want our students to see it.”

Helping to design the conversion was William Misicka, a senior student in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences’ Environmental Studies Program at Pace. Misicka performed research on solar energy and went on a solar site survey with a contracting company.

“This is a virus, it’s a good virus, and this is how it spreads. Congratulations to Pace on your accomplishment,” said Smith. “Let the sun shine.”

From The Journal News:

“The university opened its solar classroom – a former cottage that now has solar panels on the roof – this afternoon (Wednesday). Con Edison supported the project as part of its commitment to promoting education and environmental awareness in Westchester County and New York City.

“The solar classroom at Pace University will help us spread our message about the environmental and economic benefits of solar power,” said Frances A. Resheske, Con Edison’s senior vice president for Public Affairs. “The incentives government agencies are offering make this a great time for customers to consider whether they can cut their energy bills by using solar energy.”

The Con Edison grant allowed Pace to add solar panels to a building in its Environmental Center. The panels provide 1.5 kilowatts of electricity to the building.

Hundreds of Pace students and visitors use the classroom each year. The university plans to use the classroom to show that solar power can be a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

William Misicka, a student in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences’ Environmental Studies program, designed the conversion.”

via Carmel student helps Pace get a solar classroom | Northern Westchester.