August 27, 2007

Top environmental minds to meet in Worcester for lecture, symposia

Clark University School of Geography gathers leading scientists Sept. 10-11 to tackle global sustainability challenges

Worcester, Mass.
- The Clark University Graduate School of Geography and the office of President John Bassett will present a public lecture and academic symposia featuring some of the world's foremost researchers and agenda-setters on the environment, climate change, energy resources and technology.

The events highlight the Graduate School of Geography's roles in global scholarship in sustainability, as well as its role in translating geographical and geographically related concepts to the National Academy of Science (NAS) and other research agenda-setting entities. Four former and present Clark faculty members -- Robert Kates, Roger Kasperson, Susan Hanson and B.L. Turner -- are NAS members involved with NAS sustainability initiatives. Another, J. Ron Eastman, is the founder of IDRISI, the leading raster-based used worldwide for sustainability and related research.

John Holdren on "Science, Technology, and the Sustainability Challenge"
5 p.m., Monday, Sept. 10
Razzo Hall, Traina Center for the Arts, 92 Downing Street

John Holdren is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center. He is also Professor of Environmental Science and Policy in Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the immediate past President and current Chair of the Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the largest general science society in the world). His work has focused on causes and consequences of global environmental change, sustainable development, energy technology and policy, nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, and science and technology policy.

"The sustainability challenge is about how to improve the well-being of all of the world's people – taking into account well-being's environmental and sociopolitical as well as economic dimensions – in ways and to end points attentive to the interactions of those dimensions and consistent with maintaining the improvements indefinitely," Holdren writes. "Enhancing the helpful applications and influences of science and technology to this end while avoiding or reducing the harmful ones will be essential (even though not sufficient) for meeting the challenge." His talk will explore three "particularly demanding facets of the relation of science and technology to sustainability, namely: meeting the basic needs of the poor; managing the intensifying competition for the land, water, and net primary productivity of terrestrial ecosystems; and mastering the energy-economy-environment dilemma."

Holdren is a member of the NAS, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 1993 through 2004 he served as Chair of the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Academy of Sciences, and from 1994 to 2001 he was a member of President Clinton's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. (In the latter capacity, he led five major studies for the White House on US energy research and development strategy, nuclear nonproliferation, and international cooperation on energy.) Since 2002 he has been co-chair of the independent, bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy, and from 2004 to the present he has served as a coordinating lead author of the Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, reporting to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Commission on Sustainable Development of the United Nations.

Holdren received a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship (1981-6), the Volvo International Environment Prize (1993), the Kaul Foundation Award for Scientific Excellence (1999), the Tyler Environment Prize (2000), and the John Heinz Prize in Public Policy (2001), among other awards. In 1995 he gave the acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (where he served as Chair of the Executive Committee from 1987 to 1997).

"Geographical Concepts in the Academy: Sustainability, GIS, and the World"
Panels at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 11
Grace Conference Room, Higgins University Center, 950 Main St.

The following are among Clark University scientists and distinguished guests who will participate in the symposia:
Ralph Cicerone (NAS) is President of the National Academy of Sciences and former Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine. Past President of the American Geophysical Union, his research in atmospheric chemistry has helped to shape climate change science and environmental policy at the highest levels nationally and internationally.

Jack Dangermond is co-founder and President of ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute), the company that produces ArcInfo, the dominant GIS software globally with more than 1 million users. His GIS software development has received multiple awards, including the Association of American Geographers, American Geographical Society, and U.S. Geological Society.

Robert W. Kates (NAS) is a geographer and independent scholar who has been instrumental in the development of sustainability science in the United States and abroad. A long-time member of Clark's School of Geography and former Director of the Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Program, Brown University, his research awards include the National Medal of Science (U.S.), and the MacArthur Prize Fellowship.

Roger E. Kasperson (NAS) is Research Professor in the School of Geography and Distinguished Scientist in the George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University, and former Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Clark. His research addresses technological risk assessment and vulnerability in global change science, and has been honored by the Association of American Geographers and the Risk Society of America.

B. L. Turner II (NAS) is the Milton P. and Alice C. Higgins Professor of Environment and Society and Director, School of Geography, Clark University. His research addresses human-environment relationships from the ancient Maya to contemporary land change science. He is a past Guggenheim Fellow and Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. Among his awards and honors are the Guggenheim Fellowship; Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences Fellowship; Distinguished Scholarship Award, Conference of Latin Americanist Geographers; Honors, Association of American Geographers; and Centennial Medal (Research), Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

J. Ronald Eastman is Professor of Geography, School of Geography, Clark University, and Director of Clark Labs for Cartographic Technology and Geographic Analysis. Author of IDRISI, the largest used raster-based GIS-software worldwide, his research has received honors from American and Canadian geographical associations.

Susan E. Hanson (NAS) is Research Professor, School of Geography, Clark University. Former Director of Geography and the Jan and Larry Landry University Professor, her research examines urban studies, transportation, and women's entrepreneurship. Her research awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship and selection as Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences.

Clark's Graduate School of Geography is the oldest sustained program of geography with more Ph.D.s awarded than any other geography program in the United States.