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17 February 2011
In This Issue
Faculty Profile: Marina Umaschi Bers
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The Future of the Environmental Studies Program: Broadening Our Tracks




I am spending this year working with the ENVS Executive Committee and students to review the current course offerings and requirements.  One of my goals is to reduce the number of core courses to five so that we can add more depth in each track.


In our discussions, five tracks have emerged as likely candidates.Please note that the specific titles are likely to change and the curriculum for each has not yet been solidified. Below is a brief description for each track that outlines the intended goals of the track (in alphabetical order).  We would like the feedback of our students, faculty, and friends.  Are there topics you don't think are covered by these tracks?  Which do you personally find most appealing?  We have created a FACEBOOK Discussion Board that you can use to add your comments. Visit http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=35&uid=112407962162242 to access the discussion board.


Energy and Technology - Goal: Students will explore traditional energy sources, alternative energy technologies and sustainable design with the goal of understanding these topics in relation to climate change.


Environmental Communication - Goal:  Students will both explore how environmental issues are portrayed in the media (journalism, film, broadcast, etc.), and learn to create resources designed to increase public awareness (and knowledge!).


Environmental Science - Goal:  Students will be introduced to key technologies and learn how multiple scientific disciplines are required to address environmental issues such as clean water, sustainable fisheries and climate change.


Natural Resource Diplomacy and Governance - Goal:  Students will examine topics related to resource depletion, sustainable resource use, international conflict and negotiation, and policy development.  We are also designing this track to tap into the expertise that exists across the University (including programs outside of Art, Sciences and Engineering:  e.g., Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, WSSS, and Agriculture, Food and Environment)

 Colin Orians

Sustainability, Equity and Policy - Goal: Students in this tract will develop a deep understanding of sustainability (what it is and what it is not) and will explore how human actions and policies affect environmental health and environmental justice.



Colin M. Orians, Director 


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Faculty Profile: Marina Umaschi Bers
by Nathalie Schils

Marina Bers

What's the difference between learning and schooling, between education and experience?  What does the 21st century hold in terms of new applications and advances in technology in the context of education and development?  Is it possible to use technology to foster positive development in children, adolescents and adults?  With her background in Communication Sciences and Educational Technology, Professor Marina Bers is working to determine the answers to these important questions.

Marina Bers, Assistant Professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development since 2001 and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at Tufts University since 2005, currently teaches "Computer Games for Social Change" (CD 143).  The course offers students the opportunity to design the prototype of a computer game for social change. So what is a computer game for social change? As Professor Bers explained, these games are part of a broader group of "serious games," computer games that go beyond pure entertainment for players.  Serious games involve virtual worlds, in which players can learn through experience, as opposed to the traditional classroom model of education.  Serious games[1] are currently being used as a training tool for professionals in healthcare, military, education, emergency management, family dynamics, and city planning.  Professor Bers believes that the value in playing these games come from "experience and immersion," as the player discovers the positive outcome that the designer had intended.  One example is FloodSim, a game that educates its players about flood prevention in the United Kingdom.  Players are put in a leadership position and have to make important decisions about flood policy, insurance, emergency response and recovery.  In this way, serious games are altering the traditional curriculum-based model of education which some argue places too large of a focus on dictation as opposed to experience and dialogue.  Professor Bers instructs her students to bring outside interests into the computer programs in order to "create an experience for others" that will bring about positive development for the individual as well as society.

Many environmentalists lament that action is often the missing piece when it comes to environmental policies that can bring about necessary change in regards to issues like pollution, recycling, resource use, and sustainability.  Could serious games hold the key in amending this problem?  Perhaps by experiencing virtual worlds that demonstrate the ill effects of our current rate of natural resource consumption, players will begin to understand the importance of altering their habits. 


Professor Bers is currently teaching CD 143: Computer Games for Social Change. Environmental Studies student, Sam Costello, is currently enrolled and we hope to follow-up with him to discuss his experience and final project at the end of the semester. If you are interested in learning more about Professor Bers' research and teaching or want information on her published articles, visit: http://www.tufts.edu/~mbers01/. Her book, Blocks to Robots: Learning Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom, is available online at Amazon.com.

[1] http://www.seriousgamesinstitute.co.uk

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 In the News...news
This month, Andrew C. Revkin also discussed the role of gaming in education on his New York Times opinion blog, Dot Earth. Have a look!

The Man Behind Spore Explores Gaming as Learning by Andrew C. Revkin

The Role of Gaming in Learning by Andrew C. Revkin 

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Want to fund your Research Project or Action Idea related to Energy with $1000 or show off your Design skills?


The 2011 Tufts Energy Conference announces the launch of two inaugural competitions for Tufts undergraduate and graduate students: Tufts Energy Challenge $1000 Award & Tufts Energy T-Shirt Design Competition.Entrants to the contests will receive free admission to the 2011 Tufts Energy Conference, April 15-16, 2011, Medford, MA.


To learn more and attend the Upcoming Information Session, go to www.tuftsenergyconference.com "Get Involved"


Enter your Action or Research project related to energy for $1000.

Deadline: March 1, 2011. Design a t-shirt for this year's conference; Winning design will be printed on 200 t-shirts. Deadline: Feb. 18, 2011


What is the Tufts Energy Conference? The Tufts Energy Conference engages industry experts, policymakers, professionals and the rising generation of energy leaders in a thought-provoking and solution-based discussion on the pertinent challenges and opportunities facing today's energy sector. This year's conference will be held April 15 -16, 2011 at the Tufts Medford campus and will include a full two-day conference featuring speaker panels and workshops, a cocktail party and reception, opportunities for professional networking, career & internship recruitment, and a showcase featuring energy-related projects and technologies developed by companies, NGOs, governmental organizations, and research groups.


What is this year's theme?  "Exploring Energy's Great Debates: Moving Past Posturing to Arrive at Achievable Energy Solutions"  There are a few things we know about energy. We know that we still need fossil fuels, that new technologies are making renewable energy viable, a policy solution is required to enable clean consumption, and nations all over the world must work to balance economic growth with environmental degradation. What we don't know is everything else. The 2011 Tufts Energy Conference will explore some of the great debates that are leading towards innovative thinking in the energy industry. Our goal is to create constructive debate on how incremental policy changes and business model innovations can make a meaningful impact on global energy challenges in the
next 10 years.


Who will be speaking at this year's conference?

Speakers continue to be added to the conference website. Confirmed speakers include:

Suedeen Kelly, Partner, Patton Boggs LLC, Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairperson

David Nagle, Executive Vice President, BP America

Walter Hook, Executive Director, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

Govi Rao, President and Chief Executive Officer, Noveda Technologies

David Rosner, Associate Director, National Commission on Energy Policy

David Vogt, Senior Director of Global Market Development, CB&I  


Who should attend the conference?  Professionals, undergraduate & graduate students, faculty; Knowledgeable & budding energy enthusiasts are welcome!  


Who organizes the conference? The conference is organized by a diverse mix of Tufts undergraduates and graduate students from the School for Arts, Sciences & Engineering, Fletcher School for Law & Diplomacy, the Urban Environmental Planning and Policy program.  


How can I get involved?


If you are a Tufts undergraduate or graduate student; we encourage you to enter the Tufts Energy Challenge or T-shirt design competition. Tufts Faculty/Staff are encouraged to share the contest with interested students.  For professionals, NGOs, companies and government organizations, we are actively seeking partnerships across all sectors to help us build a significant audience for this event locally as well as nationally. Sponsors provide us with critical resources and industry insight; Showcase Participants prepare background and present innovative energy technologies and projects; Promotional Partners help to distribute information about the conference. Please go to the "Get Involved" page of the Tufts Energy Conference website, www.tuftsenergyconference.com or contact Katherine Walsh, Marketing Co-Director at [email protected]  


Additional Competitions 

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Water Quality Monitoring Internship

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) seeks two Water Quality Interns to assist in a water quality monitoring program from June through early September. Since 1972, MyRWA has played a unique role in the whole of the watershed by its science, advocacy, and outreach efforts. Among these efforts MyRWA characterizes water quality problems in the Mystic River Watershed, informing stakeholder efforts to reduce pollutant inputs and thereby improve water quality.

Water Quality Interns will gather data on Cyanobacteria populations and key water quality parameters from approximately ten water bodies to safeguard the public health of residents who live in the watershed. The data is shared with all interested stakeholders including the public, municipalities, Department of Public Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.  


Interns will work both in and out of the office, and must be able to work independently and as a team. This is a part-time position that requires a commitment of two days a week during the Monday through Friday work week that are agreed upon between the two interns. Primary duties include monitoring local water bodies, collecting water samples (training provided), analysis of samples and data entry. Interns will learn about the scientific tools applied to monitor water quality and the efforts that a watershed association undertakes to advocate for water quality improvements based on this information.  


An interest in science, the environment and advocacy is encouraged. Having reliable transportation is preferred and mileage will be reimbursed.  


Candidates must be 16 years of age or older.  


Exact dates can be flexible depending on the candidate. These are unpaid positions.


The Mystic River Watershed Association is based in Arlington, MA and is accessible via several bus routes. The Mystic River Watershed Association is an equal opportunity employer.

If interested, please send your resume to [email protected]. No phone calls please.  


For more information about the Mystic River Watershed Association please see http://MysticRiver.org.

Additional Internships


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Jobs jobs

Citizen Outreach Director - The Fund for the Public Interest - Boston

Posted by: Work for Progress 


Jobs running urgent campaigns.
It doesn't take an oil spill, a financial meltdown or another gay marriage ban to see that we've got work to do. Too often, powerful special interests use their money and influence to block progress on consumer protections and social justice issues and convince decision makers to look the other way as the put our environment at risk.

To win we're going to need people -- lots of people -- to join the call for change.

The Fund for the Public Interest is currently hiring Citizen Outreach Directors and Assistant Directors to run grassroots canvass offices around the country.

Recruit, train and lead a staff of 10-40 canvassers to go out into communities on critical campaigns, raise money, mobilize support and build membership for some of the nation's top progressive organizations.

The Fund is the nation's leading organization running grassroots campaigns across the country for leading social change groups including Environment America, U.S. PIRG, the Sierra Club and the Human Rights Campaign.

 Additional Jobs

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Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn: Jeff Hake and Mari Peirce-Quinonez,
Urban Agriculture

February 24, 2011, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm -
Rabb Room, Tisch College/Lincoln Filene Center


Jeff HakeJeff Hake is in the final semester of his Masters program, receiving a degree in Agriculture, Food and the Environment at Tufts University. Jeff likes growing marigolds in pots, tomatoes on strings, and corn in rows, and he thinks that the bicycle tractor he's working on could be helpful for each of those. Jeff's blog: gardenglow.tumblr.com 


MariMari Pierce-Quinonez is currently working towards a dual Masters in Urban Planning and Agriculture, Food & Environment at Tufts University.  Mari has found that she is best at dreaming up great ideas that rarely get turned in to real projects, which is probably a big part of the reason why she is pursuing a career in Urban Planning. Mari's blog: www.projectstofinish.com   

SherilKirshenbaumThe Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us about Us with Sheril Kirshenbaum
March 1, 2011,  6:30 pm - 7:30 pm - Tufts University, Barnum Hall, Room 008, Medford Campus
The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us about Us by Sheril Kirshenbaum weaves together classical history, evolutionary biology, popular culture, and the author's own scientific research to present a comprehensive look at the most romantic act in human history. Psychologists report that most people can recall up to 90 percent of the details of their first romantic kiss, and the memory makes a stronger impression than... even a person's first sexual encounter. Considering this influence this book explores the historical, physiological, and social roles of the "kiss."

Sheril also has fun looking at the future of kissing in the current and potential areas of dating Web sites, kissingbots, research avenues, and more. Ultimately, THE SCIENCE OF KISSING covers everything you always wanted to know about kissing but either haven't asked, can't find out, or didn't realize you should understand.

About the Author
Sheril Kirshenbaum is a science writer for the Discover Magazine blog, The Intersection, and a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as the co-author of Unscientific America, with Chris Mooney. She has been a guest on numerous radio shows such as The Brian Lehrer Show and The Bob Edwards Show, and is an advisor and regular contributor to NPR's Science Fridays.Visit her site at www.sherilkirshenbaum.com.

There will be a lecture, followed by book-signing. We hope to have both of her titles, "The Science of Kissing" and "Unscientific America" available to purchase on site.

Environmental Studies Panel Discussion-Environmental Communications
March 2, 2011, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Robinson Hall, Room 253, Tufts Medford Campus
Three Tufts Alumni panelists will present on different aspects of environmental communications and the floor will be opened up to public discussion. More information to follow...wisit our website.   

Tom GloriaEnvironmental Studies Lunch & Learn: Tom Gloria, Industrial Ecology
and Consulting

March 3, 2011, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm -
Rabb Room, Tisch College/Lincoln
Filene Center 

Dr. Gloria will discuss the importance of a well rounded, multidisciplinary educational experience and how his Tufts University education prepared him for my current career as an Industrial Ecologist and Consultant.

Tom Gloria, Ph.D.
is Managing Director of IE Consultants. He has more than 19 years of professional experience in sustainability management consulting and information technology engineering design. His work encompas
...ses product innovation; environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle management (LCM); methods and policy implications regarding greenhouse gas emissions inventories; and energy efficiency feasibility analysis.  

Tom is a Life Cycle Assessment Certified Professional and member of the Executive Committee, Advisory Board, and Chair of the Technical Committee of the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment. Dr. Gloria is also the Chair of the Advisory Committee of US Life Cycle Inventory effort under the auspices of the US Department of Energy. 

Tom has worked with several private & public sector clients conducting sustainability related work including: Armstrong World Industries, Avery Dennison, Biogen Idec, Covidien, EILEEN FISHER, Herman Miller, Industrial Economics Inc., Interface, International Zinc Association, Kimball Furniture, Kraft Foods, Levi Strauss & Co., National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Nike, Nestle Waters North America, NewsCorp, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Rio Tinto, Sears Holdings Corporation, SC Johnson, Samsung, Silgan Containers, Timberland, and the U.S. EPA. 

He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Tufts University and a B.Sc. in Electrical and Computer Science Engineering from the University of Connecticut.

Environmental Studies Lunch & Learn: Tim McGivern, Nitsch Engineering - Sustainable Stormwater Practice
March 10, 2011, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm - Rabb Room, Tisch College/Lincoln Filene Center
More information to follow...wisit our website.  

Additional Local Events 


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