The Gwich’in town of Arctic Village lies north of the Arctic Circle and just south of the border of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), often called “the last great wilderness.”
In August, six SNC students met SNC Professor Brennan Lagasse in Fairbanks AK and took a bush plane to Arctic Village, to share the traditions of the Gwich’in Tribe and experience firsthand the majesty and vulnerability of ANWR. Those students will be sharing their experiences at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, in Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences Room 106. The event is free and open to the public.
The once in a lifetime opportunity for SNC students resulted from tribal elder Sarah James’s respect for Professor Lagasse’s previous work with Indigenous peoples, and the tribe’s commitment to make “friends in the south” to advocate for their environment and way of life.
During their time in Arctic Village, students went hunting and fishing with their hosts; participated in elder celebrations, and many interviews and discussions with local tribal members; ate traditional meals of caribou, fry bread, and ground squirrel; and hiked and camped amongst the rugged peaks of the Brooks Range.
The experience is one that excites Lagasse about the sustainability program at SIerra Nevada College. He was quote in an Eagle’s Eye story as saying, “What we did in Alaska, that’s it man. I guarantee any liberal arts school, any progressive sustainability program, anybody sees that and knows what’s up in the sustainability world would look at that say ‘Wow, that’s cool.’
The Chandalar River near Arctic Village, Alaska. Photo by William Troyer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Students will be camping in the Arctic Village of the Gwich’in Tribe, while learning about the potential impacts of petroleum exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) during a Sustainability field course in August.
Sustainability Instructor Brennan Legasse will lead a group of 5-7 students to Alaska on Aug. 6-15. This field trip intends to immerse students in the Arctic environment to help them better understand the traditional and contemporary lives of Indigenous people living in Arctic Village, those that advocate for ecosystem health in the local bioregion, and how the world’s dependence on a finite, polluting resource compromises the attainment of holistic sustainability.
Besides exploring the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, the students will be meeting with tribal elders about climate change and tribal members about socio-cultural issues born from colonization and proposed resource extraction plans.
The Arctic Village Visitor Center.
Photo by Wazefaire via Wikimedia Commons
The cost of the course is just under $3,000, including airfare, food, a one-night stay in Fairbanks, camping fees, and a tribal donation. The course number is Sustainability 381 for those interested in signing up.
Students will live in Arctic Village, camping during their trip and will have daily interdisciplinary engagements that touch on Outdoor Adventure Leadership, Sustainability, and Environmental Science. This is a special opportunity to live with members of the Gwich’in Tribe, visit the wild landscape of ANWR, and address issues of sustainability through an intimate experience in a unique place.
Sustainability Professor Soraya Cardenas speaks at the Desert Research Institute on Feb. 21
Sustainability Professor Soraya Cardenas visited the Desert Research Institute Feb. 21 to discuss how collaboration with various agencies can help obtain competitive grants. She used a case study from Fort Kent, Maine about a $97,000 grant, funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainability Initiative.
Senior Samantha Van Ruiten continues to be a huge asset for the Tahoe-Truckee community as she works with several area nonprofits organizations on community events. She has created an event for the Tahoe Food Hub called Turnip the Heat Tuesdays.
She began working on a community soup night last semester for her Service Learning project and is now continuing this semester for her Senior Portfolio. The goal of Turnip the Heat Tuesdays is to create a more food-focused community, using fresh, sustainably grown ingredients.
The first Community Soup night was held Feb. 11 at Spice. The next one will be from 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Full Belly Deli in Truckee’s Pioneer Center. Cost is $5 for soup and bread, and the event includes a raffle, music and drinks.
The next event will be March 11 at Coffeebar in Truckee.
Go have some soup and support Samantha!
Sierra Nevada College’s Sustainability major was included in the High Country News’ annual Special Issue on the Future. This year’s theme: Building a more sustainable West, one city at a time, focused on the region’s more notable efforts to build sustainable urban environments.
There was a special pull-out section Sustainability Studies Guide – Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Field of Study which included SNC as one of the leading programs in the country and what we are doing to help meet the challenges of the future. Go to page 49-51 on High Country News’ pdf version of the magazine to see the blurb about SNC and the photo of Lake Tahoe next to it. We also have an ad for SNC on page 44.
The High Country News says that next year it will continue to explore the future and its challenges. As it uncovers what academic institutions, innovative and non-traditional educational programs, conservation groups, companies and others are doing to address those challenges, we expect and hope that SNC will continue to be included for its innovative work in Sustainability.
Sustainability Professor Soraya Cardenas will visit the Desert Research Institute Feb. 21 to discuss how collaboration with various agencies can help obtain competitive grants. She will use a case study from Fort Kent, Maine about a $97,000 grant, funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainability Initiative.
The DRI conducts cutting edge applied research in air, land, life and water quality in Nevada, the U.S. and internationally. It has 500 employees on two main campuses in Reno and Las Vegas and generates $50 million in total annual revenue. However, its faculty members are responsible for their own salaries from external grants and contracts.
She will be talking about her case study with the DRI scientists at noon on Friday, Feb. 21, in the DRI’s conference room. Below is the explanation of her presentation:
Adopting Collaborations with Social Sciences in Grant Opportunities: The Case Study of Fort Kent, ME
Obtaining grants have become more competitive and agencies have required greater joint parameters between institutions, such as the partnering of varying sciences. This presentation will demonstrate how this collaboration is possible through a case study, which was funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainability Initiative. Environmental Sociologist, Dr. Cardenas who was the PI for the grant, successfully secured $97,000 for an exploratory research initiative with the possibility of renewal for 4 years. This project explored the potential for biomass introduction and adoption in Fort Kent, ME and surrounding community. This grant supported faculty from the Biological Sciences, Forestry and Social Sciences. They were solicited to study varying aspects of the issue. Social Scientist, Dr. Cardenas project consisted of utilizing her students in her Environmental Sociology class and developing a documentary that describes biomass and explores the feasibility of biomass as an alternative heating initiative. This presentation will introduce the biomass project, a 15 minute video of the students’ work, followed by a brief discussion of how DRI scientists can collaborate with Sierra Nevada College to increase funding opportunities through the inclusion of student assisted research.
The editors of the Eagle’s Eye queried a group of students Monday night about what they like to read about in the campus newspaper. One of the top choices that the students mentioned were the interesting and exciting projects students created through Service Learning.
Every semester, Interdisciplinary Studies students develop a personal project which clears a path to their future career, according to an Eagle’s Eye article. SNC offers an innovative interdisciplinary class called Service Learning where students dig deeper and become involved in unique volunteer opportunities. The SNC website, says “Through the required Service Learning course, which challenges students to explore how their actions, their academic interests, and their own initiative can contribute to the community, students learn to make a difference AND maximize their learning. This hands-on, experiential program dares students to get out and do it—and they do.”
If you want to see the inspiring projects completed by this semester’s students, there will be presentations from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, in TCES 139. Stop by to hear the following students talk about their projects:
Students from the Society and Sustainability capstone course and the Justice Club listen to passionate opinions by members of the Nevada County Peace Center.
By Kelly Benson
Students in the Society and Sustainability capstone course and members of the Justice Club joined Professor Brennan Lagasse on a field trip Nov. 19 to meet with members of the Nevada County Peace Center.
This trip gave students the opportunity to see first-hand how the topics of justice, peace, and equality could transfer from classroom discussion to real world examples. For several hours different members of the Peace Center spoke on their topics of interest, ranging from climate change, GMO labeling, activism in the form of non-violence, action through artistic expression, and changes in policy. It was evident that the speakers were very passionate about their work, and excited to share with a group of young, motivated students.
Samantha Van Ruiten, a student in the capstone course shared, “I’m inspired by the actions and knowledge of the ladies at the Peace and Justice Center in Nevada City. I think it is important to see and interact with those type of organizations, because it’s one thing to discuss this in class but another to meet and talk to people who are involved and a part of these social movements.”
Engage, Educate and Activate Sustainability Awareness
By Beth Portesi
SNC kicked off the 2nd annual Sustainability Film Festival earlier this week. The aroma of popcorn permeated the TCES lobby Thursday evening as students and members of the community filled TCES 139 for a screening of the film “Chasing Ice.”
The turn out was a huge success, with viewers sitting along the back walls of the room. The documentary film followed James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey team as they set up time-lapse cameras in the most severe conditions, to document the effects of our changing climate on glaciers. Balog is aware that people are bombarded with contradicting arguments, predictions, and statistics regarding the crisis of our planet. He sets out to send a message to people through his photography of what is happening right now, in our lifetime, due to carbon dioxide emissions. The Denver Post review of the film puts the film’s impression in perspective, “The scale of the glaciers, and the almost hallucinogenic clarity of the images, make the resulting footage, based on three years’ shooting, most impressive. One piece of ice we see breaking off is said to be the size of lower Manhattan.”
The Festival continued on Friday and Saturday with food, drinks, raffles, and prizes donated from businesses in the Tahoe area. The other featured films of the weekend included The Garden. Bidder 70, and Pipe Dreams.
James Balog’s TED talk on the Extreme Ice Survey project with the results of his study.
By Rachael Blum
My role in the Sustainability Club is as co-president with Marina McCoy. We like to give club members opportunities to explore and learn how to be more sustainable in their daily practices while also exploring and providing opportunities to attend neat events pertaining to sustainable matters.
Sustainability Club has had a slow start in regards to recruiting members. We are working on changing a few things, but plan to begin implementing projects including improved recycling on campus, food improvements in the bookstore, student bus passes, fill stations etc. Meetings are Mondays at 6 pm in TCES lounge.
For the Sustainability Film Festival on Nov. 6-9, we have made efforts to make it a Zero Waste Event by teaming up with IVGID’s Waste Not program. There will be recycling and composting bins available on site to help reduce the waste we generate.