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Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn Program

Thursdays at 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center, Medford Campus

Every week during the academic year, the ENVS Lunch & Learn lecture series features speakers from government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations to give presentations on environmental topics. This is a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge beyond the curriculum, meet other faculty and students and network with the speakers.

Students, faculty, staff, and members of the community are welcome to attend.

This lecture series is co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute of the Environment and the Tisch College of Civic Life.

You can't make it to the talk? No problem!

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Fall 2016 Lunch & Learn Schedule
Sep. 8, 2016
Watch video
Matthew Kamm The Windhover Mystery - Why are American Kestrels declining across North America?
Sep. 15, 2016 Kelsey Jack Lighting Up Africa: Reaching Low Income Customers With Prepaid Electricity
Sep. 22, 2016
Watch video
Nathaniel Stinnett Modern Environmental Politics: Big Data, Behavioral Science, and Getting Environmentalists to Vote
Sep. 29, 2016 Charles C. Mann
Read interview
After 1492: Globalization as a Biological Process
Oct. 6, 2016
Watch video
Colin Orians
Read interview
Farmers at Risk: Impacts of climate change on tea and coffee
Oct. 13, 2016 William Powers
Read interview
The Bolivian Eco-Municipality: A New Sustainability Framework?
Oct. 20, 2016
Watch video
Thomas French
Read interview
The Challenges of Protecting Unpopular Species: Snakes
Oct. 27, 2016
Watch video
Anne-Marie Codur
Seth Itzkhan and Karl Thidemann
Read interview
Restoring soils to mitigate climate change and feed the world:
The 4 per 1000 initiative for food security and climate
Nov. 3, 2016
Watch video
Ariel Kraten
Read interview
Sustainability Innovations In Fashion and Apparel
Nov. 10, 2016
Watch video
Marieke Rosenbaum
Read interview
The CLUC Study: Chickens Living in Urban Coops
Nov. 17, 2016 Avery Cohn Substantial Warming of Tropical Agricultural Regions Caused by Neighboring Deforestation*
Dec. 1, 2016 Zarin Machanda Ecological and Social Factors Affecting Sex Differences in Wild Chimpanzees
Dec. 8, 2016 Laureen Elgert Urban Sustainability Ratings: ‘Measurementality’, Transparency, and Unexpected Outcomes at the Knowledge-Policy Interface

* Per request of the speaker, there will not be live-stream broadcast for this lecture.

Fall 2016 Schedule



September 8, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
The Windhover Mystery - Why are American Kestrels declining across North America?
Matthew Kamm, Graduate student, Biology Department, Tufts University
Watch video

The American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) has been described as the most widespread and abundant raptor in North America. Over the last few decades, its population numbers have been dropping across its extensive range. Many factors are likely responsible, but loss of habitat is frequently cited as a key driver of decline. Learn about efforts at Tufts to understand kestrel habitat and its role in population trends.
Matthew Kamm is a Ph.D Candidate in the Tufts Biology department working with Dr. Michael Reed. Prior to Tufts, he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Brandeis University and subsequently worked for Mass Audubon for four years, writing and surveying for the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas and developing the "Foresters for the Birds" program.
 



September 15, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Lighting up Africa: Reaching low income customers with prepaid electricity
Kelsey Jack, Assistant professor, Department of Economics, Tufts University

Electrification rates are generally low in Sub-Saharan Africa. Expanding access is often seen as key to economic growth. However, with new electricity connections come new challenges. Poor households may struggle to pay monthly bills. If unable to pay, customers face disconnection, the utility loses revenue, and the service provision model is undermined. A possible solution to this problem is prepaid metering, in which customers buy electricity upfront and use it until the prepaid amount is consumed. The effect of prepaid metering on electricity consumption and the costs and benefits to the electric utility will shape the way that electricity access expands in the coming decades.

Dr Jack's research lies at the intersection of environmental and development economics. Dr. Jack has ongoing research projects in Zambia and South Africa, studying household decision about natural resources and the private provision of public goods. Much of her research uses field experiments to test theory and new policy innovations. Kelsey received her PhD in public policy from Harvard University in 2010 and spent a year as a post-doctoral fellow at MIT before joining the Department of Economics at Tufts in 2011.
 



September 22, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Modern Environmental Politics: big data, behavioral science, and getting environmentalists to vote
Nathaniel Stinnett, Founder & CEO, Environmental Voter Project
Watch video

Big data has completely revolutionized how modern political campaigns target and communicate with voters. Simultaneously, a new generation of behavioral scientists has completely changed our understanding of why and how people decide to vote. These changes present a large number of counter-intuitive and exciting discoveries and they also suggest both good and bad news for the environmental movement. Join Nathaniel Stinnett for a discussion of how modern political campaigns work and how that impacts environmental policy at the local, state, and federal level.

Nathaniel Stinnett is the Founder & CEO of the Environmental Voter Project, a non-partisan nonprofit that uses big data analytics and behavioral science to identify non-voting environmentalists and then get them to vote. Recently dubbed "The Voting Guru" by Grist, Stinnett was named one of the 50 environmental visionaries that you'll be talking about in 2016. He has over a decade of experience as a senior advisor, campaign manager, and trainer for US Senate, Congressional, and mayoral campaigns as well as issue-advocacy nonprofits. Formerly an attorney at the international law firm of DLA Piper, Stinnett holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.
 



September 29, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
After 1492: Globalization as a Biological Process
Charles C. Mann, Author
Read interview

The two dates that mark the beginning of globalization are 1492 (when, famously, Columbus voyaged to the Americas) and 1571 (when, much less famously, Legazpi bloodily founded the Spanish colony of Manila). From these beginnings came today's globe-spanning network of exchange. Increasingly, this exchange--and is impacts--is understood in terms as much ecological as economic, in terms of vessels from distant lands causing previously separate ecosystems to collide. The "Columbian Exchange," as this ongoing worldwide ecological convulsion is known, was the biggest event in the history of life since the death of the dinosaurs, and a vital part of the human story as well.

Charles C. Mann's most recent books are 1491, won the U.S. National Academy of Sciences' Keck award for the best book of the year, and 1493, a New York Times best-seller. A Correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Science, and Wired, he has covered the intersection of science, technology, and commerce for many newspapers and magazines here and abroad, including BioScience, The Boston Globe, Fortune, Geo (Germany), The New York Times (magazine, op-ed, book review), Panorama (Italy), Paris-Match (France), Quark (Japan), Smithsonian, Der Stern (Germany), Technology Review, Vanity Fair, and The Washington Post (magazine, op-ed, book review). In addition to 1491 and 1493, he has co-written four other books, written for CD-ROMs, HBO, and the television show Law and Order, and served as the text editorial coordinator for the internationally best-selling photographic projects Material World (1994), Women in the Material World (1996), and Hungry Planet (2005). A four-time National Magazine Award finalist, he has received writing awards from the American Bar Association, the American Institute of Physics, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Margaret Sanger Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation (a 2006 Literary Fellowship). He is currently at work on a book about the future that makes no predictions; early excerpts have appeared in Orion, The Atlantic Monthly, and Wired. His low-volume Twitter stream can be found @CharlesCMann.

Photo credit: Richard Lionstar.
 



October 6, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Farmers at Risk: Impacts of climate change on tea and coffee
Colin Orians, Full professor of Biology and Director of Environmental Studies, Tufts University
Watch video | Read interview

Climatic changes are impacting agro-ecosystems around the world and pose a risk to farmer livelihoods and human wellbeing. In his talk, Dr. Orians will present interdisciplinary research on two globally important crops explores both direct effects of climate on tea and coffee farmer-agroecosystems, but also indirect effects of climate on in pest pressures. His work emphasizes the value of interdisciplinary research, the need for new experimental approaches for isolating the impacts of climate, and the importance of imagining how farmers might adapt to our changing world.

Colin Orians is a full professor in the Biology department and the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Tufts University. His research addresses the urgent need to understand how plants respond to multiple biotic and abiotic stressors simultaneously. He has published widely on the impacts of plant pests and growing conditions on the expression of key traits responsible for plant growth, resistance and sensory quality. His research combines physiological, chemical and isotope techniques to elucidate patterns and identify mechanisms. His work has been funded by NSF, USDA and the Mellon Foundation. In addition to his research, Dr. Orians teaches courses in Sustainable Agriculture, Environmental Biology, and Tropical Ecology. B.A., 1984, Biology, Earlham College; Ph.D., 1990, Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University.
 



October 13, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
The Bolivian Eco-Municipality: A New Sustainability Framework?
William D. Powers, Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute
Read interview

The Latin American concept of buen vivir, or "living well", suggests well-being "is only possible in the specific context of a community, which is social but also ecological." (Gudynas, 2011). Powers' 2016 World Policy Institute field study in Bolivia examines how - even in the context of contradictory neo-extractivist pressures which cuts against sustainability - new biocentric policies around buen vivir play out in one of Bolivia's twenty-four nationally-designated "ecological municipalities." A lively discussion will probe this new model, and transferable South-North lessons.

William D. Powers is a Senior Fellow with the World Policy Institute, an Adjunct Professor with NYU's Center for Global Affairs and award-winning author. He has worked for two decades in development aid and conservation in Latin America, Africa, and North America. From 2002 to 2004 he managed the community components of a project in the Bolivian Amazon that won a 2003 prize for environmental innovation from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has published five books, and his essays and commentaries on global issues have appeared in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune and on National Public Radio's Fresh Air. Powers has worked at the World Bank and holds international relations degrees from Brown and Georgetown.
 



October 20, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
The Challenges of Protecting Unpopular Species: Snakes
Thomas W. French, Assistant Director, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
Watch video | Read interview

A core responsibility of state and federal fish and wildlife agencies is to protect and manage native species. Ecologically, and in the eyes of Massachusetts law, all state-listed Endangered Species should be treated equally, but this is still not the case in the court of public opinion. Dr. French will discuss the unique case of snakes, a fear of which is share by more American adults than any other fear. It raises the question of what role, if any, should emotional species bias play in the policies of a science-based agency. Ecologically, the Bald Eagle is no more or less important than the Timber Rattlesnake, but protecting one is popular, and protecting the other is not.

Thomas W. French was formerly a zoologist with The Nature Conservancy and an instructor-naturalist and field biologist with the National Audubon Society. Since 1984 he has been an Assistant Director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, where he serves as Director of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. In 2007, Dr. French spent four months as the acting Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. He has served on numerous committees of scientific societies and conservation organizations, graduate student committees, and endangered species recovery teams. For six years, he chaired the New England Large Whale Recovery Plan Implementation Team. He has written over forty papers on mammals, birds and herps, and works frequently with the media to foster greater public interest in conservation. His educational background includes a B.S. in Biology from Georgia State University, an M.S. in Zoology from Auburn University, a Ph.D. in Ecology and Systematics from Indiana State University, and a post doctoral position at Cornell University.
 



October 27, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Restoring soils to mitigate climate change and feed the world:
The 4 per 1000 initiative for food security and climate

Anne-Marie Codur, Research Fellow, GDAE, Tufts University
Seth Itzkhan and Karl Thidemann, Co-founders and co-directors, Soil4Climate
Watch video | Read interview

The 4 per 1000 initiative, Soils for food security and climate, was launched in Paris during COP21 by the French Ministry of Agriculture, to promote soils restoration globally as one of the most promising climate mitigation strategy, as well as a key policy to promote food security and fight hunger worldwide. Anne-Marie Codur, of Tufts Global Development and Environment, will present this international initiative, the scientific evidence on which it is based, and its global policy objectives. Seth Itzkan and Karl Thidemann, co-founders and co-directors of Soil4Climate, an NGO and advocacy group, will present their work, and how they see their role as a member of the 4per1000 consortium, the international coalition including nation-states, NGOs, farmers associations and unions, research centers and universities, whose official launching will take place in November 2016 in Marrakesh, at COP22.

Anne-Marie Codur is a Franco-American scholar, educator, activist and artist, whose experience covers two distinct fields of research and practice: ecological economics (Research fellow at Tufts GDAE); and peace education, and strategic nonviolence (Co-founder of the University of the Middle East Project, and Academic advisor at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict). As an activist in climate justice, she organized civil society events during COP21 in Paris, with Dialogues en humanité, promoting the concept of an emerging planetary citizenship embodying the global socio-ecological contract between humanity and the Earth. Anne-Marie is also a classically trained singer who has performed internationally, and offers her voice to the many human and ecological struggles she is engaged in.

Seth Itzkhan and Karl Thidemann are the co-founders of co-Directors for Soil4Climate, a nonprofit organization, advocates for soil restoration as a climate solution. They promote regenerative land management practices to capture atmospheric carbon and encourage collaboration with the larger body of climate activism. Uniting "drawdown" strategies with emissions reduction, divestment from fossil fuels, a price on carbon, and climate justice advocacy, together creates a powerful alliance.

Special guest speaker:
Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, Professor Emerita, Dpt. of Anthropology at Smith College, is the founder and director of Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration in the Peruvian Upper Amazon (see documentary). Her latest book is entitled : "Sacred Soil: Biochar and the Regeneration of the Earth" to appear in 2017 with North Atlantic Book.
 



November 3, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Sustainability Innovations in Fashion & Apparel
Ariel Kraten, Director, Go Blu
Watch video | Read interview

What is the relationship between our clothes and our environment? Because of many factors such as population growth, the proliferation of appearance-obsessed social media, and the explosion of fast fashion, this relationship is growing more and more contentious.

Through the lens of items we all have in our closets, this presentation will look at the environmental impact of clothing manufacture, and share some of the cutting edge innovations from science and technology that are leading to breakthroughs in more sustainable production.

Ariel Kraten is the Director of Go Blu, a Boston based company that specializes in sustainable solutions in the textile industry. In this role, Ariel promotes more conscious decision-making in light of sustainability concerns and global interconnections, as well as business priorities. She started her Sustainability Journey as Peace Corps in Suriname in 2004-2006, where she experienced firsthand what it feels like to have limited access to clean water, and how that impacted the health and wellbeing of her remote Amazon community. Ariel then spent five years working with Big Brothers Big Sisters International, an NGO focused on mentoring, where she was fascinated by the challenge of rolling out a program in over a dozen different countries with different cultures and challenges. She then moved to the Netherlands to work at the sustainable fashion consultancy MADE-BY, most recently as a Senior Consultant, where her focus was on creating support tools for brands and helping them develop and apply the right sustainability strategy in light of environmental challenges. Ariel received a Master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Nonprofit Leadership/Leadership for Social Change and incorporates a group dynamics perspective into her work.
 



November 10, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
The CLUC Study - Chickens Living in Urban Coops
Marieke Rosembaum, DVM, MPH, Research Assistant Professor, Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University

Ownership of backyard chickens is increasing in urban areas across the nation, and the greater Boston area is no exception. Interactions between family members and chickens are frequent as these birds are often considered pets as well as egg producers. However, little attention is given to public health and bio security concerns that may be associated with backyard chicken ownership. In this study we use a One Health approach, integrating veterinary medicine and environmental health epidemiology, to understand public health risks such as exposure to lead and Salmonella that may be associated with urban poultry ownership in the greater Boston area. The capacity to understand this dynamic human-poultry-environment relationship amid a burgeoning industry will strengthen our ability to make husbandry and safe handling recommendations that can be evaluated and instituted through the engagement of local community stakeholders and leaders.

Marieke Rosenbaum is a Research Assistant Professor and the pathway leader for the Combined DVM-MPH program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Tufts University School of Medicine. Her academic and research interests are focused on health and disease in the context of human-animal relationships. Her current global research activities include studying infectious disease ecology in Peruvian nonhuman primates from a variety of interfaces for human-primate interactions (ie wetmarkets, pet primates, sanctuaries, road side attractions), and how cohabitation with production animals may affect the microbiota of Guatemalan children. Locally, Dr. Rosenbaum studies lead and Salmonella in urban chicken flocks, and Staphylococcus aureus carriage and antimicrobial resistance in greater Boston's urban rodent population.
 



November 17, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center

Substantial warming of tropical agricultural regions caused by neighboring deforestation
Avery Cohn, Assistant Professor of Environment and Resource Policy, Tufts University

Tropical deforestation can substantially increase nearby air temperature by reducing evaporative cooling. But, because recent tropical forest loss has been concentrated in recently-settled regions with low weather station density, forest loss-driven biophysical warming has likely gone systematically under-detected in temperature records. I'll present results of research in my group analyzing satellite data to demonstrate that in many locations across the tropics, forests lost from 2000-2013 caused warming that exceeded the warming predicted from global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I'll close on a hopeful note—discussing how the finding might encourage farmers to protect nearby forests.

Avery Cohn directs the Program in Agriculture, Forests, and Biodiversity at the Fletcher School. The program seeks to promote sustainable development in a changing environment. The group is presently investigating strategies to promote the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, opportunities to prevent deforestation, climate change adaptation in agricultural systems, and approaches to reduce food loss. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.
 



December 1, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Ecological and Social factors affecting sex differences in wild chimpanzees
Zarin Machanda, Department of Anthropology, Tufts University

Wild chimpanzees exhibit striking sex differences in their social relationships and behavior. Male chimpanzees have strong social bonds with one another and engage in more aggressive and cooperative behavior compared to female chimpanzees. Many of these differences can be linked to differences in how the sexes interact with their environment. This talk will examine how these sex differences are shaped by both ecological and social factors in our closest living relative.

Zarin Machanda is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology. She has worked with chimpanzees for the past 2 decades studying social interactions and development patterns. She is also the Director of Long-term Research at the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, a long-term study of wild chimpanzees in Uganda.
 



December 8, 2016
12:00-1:00pm | Rabb Room, Lincoln Filene Center
Urban Sustainability Ratings: 'measurementality', transparency, and unexpected outcomes at the knowledge-policy interface
Laureen Elgert, PhD, International Development and Environmental Policy, Department of Social Science and Policy Studies, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

This research examines a new addition to the growing number of 'sustainable city' rating programs called STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing and Rating) communities. The research examines how and why such discourses of sustainability that rely on standardized, data-based measurement, and that promote 'measurementality', privilege cities that have greater access to resources to invest in data collection. High sustainability ratings bring political and material advantages to those cities that can make such investments. Furthermore, such systems often realign governance priorities, as cities 'grab' points by pursuing uncontroversial and depoliticized policies and programs. Instead of creating a "high bar which cities can work towards achieving", STAR reinforces existing inequalities and creates new inequalities within and between municipalities.

Dr. Laureen Elgert's research focuses on the complex interface between knowledge, policy, practice and outcomes in environmental governance with an empirical focus on protected areas, sustainable commodity certification, farming systems and agriculture and sustainability indicators. She examines themes such as the politics of sustainability, environmental expertise and evidence-based policy, and, the trade-offs and synergies between local livelihoods and global environmental outcomes. Dr. Elgert is assistant professor of environmental studies and international development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is trained in anthropology (BA, Trent University, Canada), public health (MSc, University of Alberta, Canada), and international development studies (PhD, London School of Economics and Political Science). She has been an environmental researcher for 10 years - much of her research focused on South America (Paraguay, Brazil) - and has taught environmental studies full time for 9 years in the US and the UK. Her current research interests include sustainability indicators, eco-labels and 'climate-smart' urban agriculture and food security.