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 Tuesday, August 12, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


Panel series highlights climate, energy and sustainability
by Melanie O. Massengale
 

In late August 2007, Professor Stein Sture, vice chancellor for research and dean of the Graduate School, began planning a series of more than a dozen public lectures and panel discussions to coincide with the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this August. The panels, under the name "Meeting the Global Energy and Climate Challenge" will be held on campus Aug. 22 and 23 and will feature topics within the areas of climate change, energy and the environment. Opening sessions relating to mental health, globalization and economy will be included.

“I discussed the opportunity with the chancellor and the cabinet,” Sture said. “Chancellor Peterson supported the idea of such an event as a public service for the common good.” The University of Minnesota is providing a program for the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul in September.

Last fall, Sture touched base with deans and began collecting their nominations for speakers. He also asked for faculty input to help identify topics of national importance for the lectures and panels. “The response was immediate and enthusiastic,” he said. “We wanted an exciting program with broad appeal. It is designed to draw attention to the fact that CU-Boulder is engaged in timely and important research and scholarship.”

Jim White, director at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) is a participant in the “Real Change: The Science Behind Global Climate Change Predictions” panel on Saturday, Aug. 23. “CU-Boulder is third in the country in research funding for environmental sciences,” he said. “We have much to contribute and look to engage the public as often as we can in a language that we all understand. Higher education can and should be out front in identifying problems, finding solutions and helping to shape a prosperous future.”

Friday’s panels include discussions on climate change and its social repercussions in the 21st century. The panels on Saturday are tightly focused on climate change and energy. “Resources and energy will be the defining issue of the 21st century: how we deal with the perfect storm of Asia’s increasing demand on supplies concurrent with diminishing energy resources will be the greatest challenge,” White said.

Sture is addressing a number of challenges in overseeing the panels. “Logistics is perhaps the biggest issue,” he said. “We have to plan for a lot of people on campus, for their hotels and transportation, as well as for parking and security. Residence hall move-in is occurring earlier in the week and Boulder will be accommodating parents and students.” Classes start on the Monday following the activities.

Stein is also adamant about the need to raise public interest, and he emphasized the importance of communicating the event’s purpose. “With this program, we are projecting CU-Boulder into the nation’s limelight,” he said. “This event is a critical part of our community outreach and in practice it is one way of serving our state and nation.”

White agrees. “In the past, scientists have failed to communicate climate change effectively. Today, CU-Boulder is at the forefront of environmental research. Providing these panels in conjunction with the DNC is an opportunity to showcase our work and get out the message about climate change and energy.”

For more information including a complete schedule of panels and presentations visit the Climate, Energy and Sustainability website.

 

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