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.

NEWS RELEASE: Premiere of “Battle Behind the Bottle: A Documentary on the Cork Question”

The premiere screening of Batttle Behind the Bottle: A Documentary on the Cork Question” will be Wednesday, May 2 at 7:30pm, Pace University, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, entrance 1, Willcox Hall auditorium. The student filmmakers and their professor Maria Luskay will hold a panel discussion on the making of the film.

PREMIERE OF “BATTLE BEHIND THE BOTTLE: A DOCUMENTARY ON THE CORK QUESTION”

Meet student filmmakers at the public premiere Wednesday, May 2 at 7:30pm, Pace University, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, entrance 1, Willcox Hall auditorium

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, April 27, 2012 – In a new documentary, “Battle Behind the Bottle: A Documentary on the Cork Question, ” a team of Pace University student filmmakers explores “the connection between the bottle of wine on your table and the fate of faraway forests.”

The premiere screening will be Wednesday, May 2 at 7:30pm, Pace University, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, entrance 1, Willcox Hall auditorium. The student filmmakers and their professor Maria Luskay will hold a panel discussion on the making of the film. New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin, Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, who co-taught the course, will join by videoconference. The event is free and open to the public. Media admission by press pass.

In the film students in the award-winning Pace course “Producing the Documentary” highlight the unseen issues within the cork industry in Portugal. The film makes the connection between cork harvested for wine bottles, a source of livelihood for 100,000 people, and the forests that are repositories for wildlife across Southern Europe and parts of North Africa. The students wrote, filmed and produced the entire project, traveling to Porto, Coruche and Lisbon to research and film.

In the documentary course, created nine years ago by Pace communications professor Maria Luskay, Ph.D., Program Chair of the Master of Arts in Media and Communication Arts, a mix of graduate and undergraduate students produce a short film each spring, spending January and February reporting and planning the shoot – which consumes much of their March spring “break” — and then editing and producing the final product. In past years Luskay has taken students to the Netherlands, Nassau, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Tuscany, and elsewhere to produce films.

“Each of these documentary projects presents unique challenges, said Luskay speaking of past film projects. “We think we know what we’re going to shoot and the direction that the film is going to take, but what actually happens once we get there can be entirely different. Agility is needed to stay true to the original theme but remain open to what the reality is. This gives the students real-world experience in documentary film-making that will serve them well in their careers.”

For interviews with the student filmmakers, Luskay or Revkin, contact Cara Cea in the Pace office of public information, ccea@pace.edu, (914) 906-9680. The making of the film is detailed on the students’ blog. Follow the students on Twitter @PaceCork and on Facebook.

Previous documentaries the course has produced and corresponding awards and links:

The Pace Master Plan for Pleasantville

Linda Thornton: Seeking Sustainability, One Shrimp at a Time, 2011, Best Shorts Competition for Best Short Documentary Award of Merit.

The Life of an American Ambassador, 2009 – recipient of Best in Category Award Winner for the “Documentary” category of the 2010 Indie Short Film Competition

Social Media:  Redefining Communication, 2008

Mugello: One Step Closer to Sustainability, 2007

Mugello, Italy’s Untapped Gem, 2007

The Constitution Comes Alive, a documentary for Constitution Day, 2007

Ecotourism: The Double Edged Sword, 2006

The March of Time, the History of Pace University, 2006, North Castle Community Television, Best Documentary Winner

For more information visit the Pace media and communications department web site at www.pace.edu/dyson/mediacomm.

About Pace University

For 105 years, 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

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

The New York Times: A Chat With RealClimate Blogger Gavin Schmidt

Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding, Andrew Revkin, wrote a New York Times Dot Earth blog post that highlights what his environmental science graduate students are doing at Pace.

Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace, Andrew Revkin, wrote a New York Times Dot Earth blog post that highlights what Pace environmental science graduate students are doing.

From the article:

“I’m in the second year of co-teaching a Pace University course helping environmental science graduate students develop the ability to communicate their work and avoid the pitfalls that come in a field that is often at the center of policy disputes. (You might have seen scientists at the center of a few such disputes of late.)

The students write letters to the editor and op-ed-style articles. They learn to use Twitter (the course hashtag is #PaceEnv) and blogs both for outreach and as learning and network-building tools. They become comfortable giving public presentations. And they hear from an array of guests, often via Skype, who recount what they’ve learned as public scientists.

Last year, after the CNN host Nancy Grace debated the meteorologist Bernie Rayno on air, insisting he was wrong in saying there was no chance that Japan’s nuclear crisis posed any radiation danger in the United States (he was right), Rayno “visited” us to describe the experience and the methods he uses to maintain composure and cogency in such situations.

In our latest session, we had a chat with Gavin Schmidt, who for 15 years has been a climate researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and, in 2004, spearheaded the launch of Realclimate.org. The blog has become a vital online touchstone for anyone eager to assess what’s known and yet to learn about greenhouse-driven climate change.”

For video and to read the full article, click here.

 

The Guardian: “Barack Obama’s record on the environment”

Andrew Revkin is featured in The Guardian’s article on Barack Obama and the environment. Revkin critiques Obama’s “green” strategies and claims that his greatest achievement has been the ability “to seek compromise… on tough issues like moving forward with tough new fuel economy standards for vehicles.”

Andrew Revkin is featured in The Guardian’s article on Barack Obama and the environment. Revkin critiques Obama’s “green” strategies and claims that his greatest achievement has been the ability “to seek compromise… on tough issues like moving forward with tough new fuel economy standards for vehicles.”

From the article:

President Obama spent too much political energy backing the traditional environmental stance that human-driven global warming was a conventional pollution problem that could be cleaned up like sewage or smog through regulation. His vision of the “green jobs” benefits from stimulus spending — focused on near-term, visible work like caulking windows — was far too truncated, and he lost the chance to build a broader coalition around making a sustained energy quest America’s new imperative. That approach could have gained more support and would more accurately reflect the momentous shift that would be required to supply energy to some 9 billion people by mid-century with the fewest regrets.

His greatest achievement has been maintaining the capacity to seek compromise, outside the glare of polarized public discourse, on tough issues like moving forward with tough new fuel economy standards for vehicles. It is that quality that, should he win a second term, provides the prospect for building a sustainable energy future and environment for the country and the planet.

Read the full article in The Guardian

The New York Times: “Who Made This Mess of Planet Earth”

Andrew C. Revkin’s association with Pace was mentioned in the author’s note to his favorable review of “Here On Earth” in the July 17th New York Times Book Review.

Andrew C. Revkin, the senior fellow for environmental understanding at Pace University, favorably reviews “Here On Earth”  in his Dot Earth blog for the Opinion Pages of NYTimes.com while commenting on today’s environmental situation.

From the article:

An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that humans have upended hosts of ecosystems and are exerting a growing and potentially calamitous influence on the climate. Some, perhaps in response to public indifference, have a tendency to push beyond the data in arguing for action. “Here on Earth” places Flannery in this group. I had a moment, about halfway in, when I was ready to give up in the face of overheated descriptions of environmental problems. But I stuck it out and was heartened to see Flannery abandon the rhetoric of shame and woe and turn to a more reasoned assessment of a young, intelligent species that finds itself in quite a predicament. After all, it’s not easy being the first life-form to become both a planet-scale force and — ever so slowly and uncomfortably — aware of that fact. That awareness is in its early stages and, as Flannery notes, “infancy is the most dangerous period of life.”

Read the full article in The New York Times.

NEWS RELEASE: Students from Award-Winning Course “Producing the Documentary” to Screen New Film About Sustainable Shrimp Farming in Belize

A new documentary, “Linda Thornton: Seeking Sustainability, One Shrimp at a Time,” filmed by a team of Pace University students explores the life of a resilient, pioneering aquaculture entrepreneur as she pushes the frontiers of sustainable shrimp farming in Belize. The 17 minute film is being released on several web sites this week. The premiere screening is set for Thursday, May 19 at 3:00pm, Pace University, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, entrance two, Lienhard Lecture Hall, 3rd floor. Andrew Revkin, New York Times Dot Earth blogger and Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, will speak about the making of the film and his role in it. The student filmmakers and their professor will be on hand as well. The event is free and open to the public.

From seafood markets and plush restaurants of Manhattan to the ponds and breeding tanks of Belize’s shrimp farms, “Linda Thornton: Seeking Sustainability, One Shrimp at a Time” explores efforts to farm shrimp with the environment in mind

Meet student filmmakers at the public premiere Thursday, May 19 at 3:00pm, Pace University, Pleasantville, entrance 2, Lienhard Lecture Hall; New York Times Dot Earth blogger and Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace, Andrew Revkin to speak

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, May 12, 2011 – In a new documentary, “Linda Thornton: Seeking Sustainability, One Shrimp at a Time,” a team of Pace University student filmmakers explores the life of a resilient, pioneering aquaculture entrepreneur as she pushes the frontiers of sustainable shrimp farming in Belize.

The 17-minute film is being released on several web sites this week. The premiere screening is set for Thursday, May 19 at 3:00pm, Pace University, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, entrance two, Lienhard Lecture Hall, 3rd floor. Andrew Revkin, New York Times Dot Earth blogger and Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, will speak about the making of the film and his role in it. The student filmmakers and their professor will be on hand as well. The event is free and open to the public. Media admission by press pass.

Linda Thornton is the quintessential innovator, but with a deep green streak — overcoming daunting personal and technical challenges to fulfill a lifelong dream of farming a staple of the global middle class diet, shrimp, while cutting environmental impacts.

In the film students in the award-winning Pace University course “Producing the Documentary” tell Thornton’s story, which over three decades takes her from early experiments with urban indoor shrimp farming in Chicago to hard-won success in Belize, a country aiming to build its economy without harming its extraordinary natural assets – particularly its coastal mangrove forests and coral reefs.

Undaunted by a boating accident that in 1994 took the lives of her husband and two other men and left her partially paralyzed, Thornton rebuilt her body and her early Belizean farming business.

After initial confrontations with environmental groups fighting a wave of shrimp farm development that was damaging coastal ecosystems from Asia to the Americas, Thornton, together with Tim Smith, a biologist working for the World Wildlife Fund, refined methods for controlling feed and water that dramatically cut pollution.

Their collaboration is part of a move within the shrimp aquaculture industry toward standards that could soon give shoppers the option of buying shrimp that are certified as sustainably raised.

Thornton, still in pain from her injuries long ago, now works at three different shrimp farms in Belize, one of which is her own Cardelli Farms, named for her father. She has also been a leader in improving labor practices in the industry.

In the film, Smith describes Thornton as gritty and creative and a natural bridge builder between the aquaculture industry and conservationists.

“She is one of the toughest and most competent people I have met,” Smith says. “Just a person that’s barely able to walk some mornings and she gets up and … runs a thousand acres of shrimp farms and then comes home and then runs her own farm. That’s not a trivial thing. There are hulls of businesses that were not able to do that all around her, all around Belize.”

The project highlights a shift in the ever-growing $10 billion industry toward raising shrimp with minimal impact on the environment.  The film takes viewers from the seafood markets and plush restaurants of Manhattan to the sprawling ponds of Belize’s shrimp farms and even into the breeding tanks where huge Pacific white shrimp mingle and mate to start the cycle of production.

In the documentary course, created nine years ago by Pace communications professor Maria Luskay, PhD, a mix of graduate and undergraduate students produce a short film each spring, spending January and February reporting and planning the shoot – which consumes much of their March spring “break” — and then editing and producing the final product.

Students in last year’s course won “Best in Category for Documentary” in the Indie Short Film Competition for their 2010 film, “The Life of An American Ambassador: The Netherlands.” For more information visit the Pace media and communications department web site at www.pace.edu/dyson/mediacomm. In past years Luskay has taken students to Nassau, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Tuscany, to produce films.

“This is a tale of endurance and creativity,” said Luskay, director of the Pace graduate program in media and communication arts.

The new film involved partnerships with schools of journalism and communication at the University of Colorado and The George Washington University, which shot interviews with experts in Boulder and Washington, D.C.

The film can be viewed here. The making of the film is detailed on the students’ blog. Follow the students on Twitter @got_shrimp and on Facebook.

For interviews with the student filmmakers, Luskay or Revkin, contact Cara Cea in the Pace University office of public information. ccea@pace.edu, (914) 906-9680.

About Pace University

For 105 years, 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

Academy for Applied Environmental Studies Appoints Science Journalist Andrew Revkin Senior Fellow

Andrew C. Revkin, one of the United States’ most eminent science reporters, is becoming Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University’s new interdisciplinary Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

Contact: Chris Cory, Pace Public Information, 212-346-1117, 212-979-8463, ccory@pace.edu

Andrew Revkin, eminent science journalist, to become Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University

Appointment to new Academy for Applied Environmental Studies builds on University’s environmental leadership

New York, NY, December 14, 2009 – Andrew C. Revkin, one of the United States’ most eminent science reporters, is becoming Senior Fellow for Environmental Understanding at Pace University’s new interdisciplinary Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

Revkin will be leaving The New York Times when he returns from his current assignment covering the Copenhagen summit on climate change, and will begin teaching when the spring term begins in late January.

“We are extremely pleased that Andy Revkin is joining what we believe is one of the strongest university environmental programs in the nation,” said Geoffrey Bracket Brackett, DPhil (Oxon.), the University’s Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “His intellectual expertise and ethical balance will make enormous contributions to helping the Pace Academy in its aim to be a global resource for policy development.”

The Pace Academy is a University-wide center with internationally known faculty members who concentrate on national and global environmental issues such as the water crisis and climate change.

Pace awarded Revkin an honorary doctorate in 2007.

Green expertise. Over the years Pace has become well known for environmental education. The Pace Law School’s environmental program is consistently ranked among the top three in the US. The law school’s Environmental Legal Clinic, co led by Professors Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Karl Coplan, trains environmental lawyers who, while still students, have set national precedents in a number of cases involving the Hudson River. This fall Pace Law launched the first curriculum in the nation entirely dedicated to climate change, offered within the school’s Masters of Environmental Law (LLM) program.

Revkin will be joining a host of nationally-known environmentalists who are part of the Pace faculty and the Academy, Brackett said.

They include John Cronin, the Academy’s Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy, who first came to public attention as the Hudson Riverkeeper and now also directs the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries; Nicholas Robinson, University Professor for the Environment, one of the founders of international environmental law; Professor Robert Chapman, an environmental philosopher who directs the undergraduate Environmental Studies program and the Pace Institute for Environmental and Regional Studies; and Richard Schlesinger, an environmental toxicologist who oversees the Environmental Science BS and MS programs. Pace’s science curriculum is especially strong in issues underlying environmental assessment, policy, and communication.

In the last decade Pace University spearheaded formation of the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities, an organization of more than 50 campuses in the Hudson watershed that collaborates on environmental studies and teaching.

Copenhagen presence. In Copenhagen, the Pace presence includes the former US Congressman and dean emeritus of Pace Law School, Richard Ottinger, a delegate for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, one of the largest global environmental nongovernmental organizations, who is blogging about the global climate change negotiations. Two Pace Law School Doctor of Juridical Science students are delegates, from the Marshall Islands and Pakistan, and a student in the school’s joint master’s program with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies is serving as an observer.

Revkin published one of the first journalistic reports on global warming 21 years ago. His degree citation said “One of his specialties is revealing how slowly-building risks such as global warming and the loss of species could transform the planet, but in ways hard to perceive in the rush of daily experience.”

The citation added: “He has melded scientific information with coverage of the politics that influence both damage and prevention.” His first book, on the slain leader of a movement to protect the Amazon basin, was the basis of an HBO film, which won three Golden Globes and two Emmy awards. An amateur musician who performs on fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals in a country folk-blues band, his New York Times profile of a heavy-metal singer was the basis for the 2001 movie “Rock Star.”

Sustainability and population. Now, Revkin has said, he wants to think and write about “the role of journalism in the larger world of environmental communication – how information matters in terms of policy and behavior.” He is starting what will be his third book for adults, about the interlinked issues of sustainability and population, and finishing the second of two books for children on environmental issues. The first has the ironic title “The North Pole Was Here.”

A full description of Revkin’s journalistic career was published today by the Columbia Journalism Review.

For 103 years Pace University 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, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu.

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