From the (Acting) Director’s Chair| May 15, 2010
My spring 2010 term as acting director fortunately was a short one, but I was audience to a tremendous year of activities in Environmental Science and Policy. Thanks in large part to preparatory efforts by ENSP director John Swaddle in 2009, the program has run fairly smoothly while he was on leave during spring. No one, however, looks forward to his return for fall 2010 more than I!
This year’s newsletter—as in prior years—highlights an expanding Environmental Science and Policy program in transition. We will be graduating some 45 students in 2010 with degrees in ENSP, and the interest in environmental activities across the College continues to grow. In addition to new faculty (Brent Kaup in Sociology), we have just hired our third Mellon Environmental Post-doctoral Scholar to participate in undergraduate instruction and directed research. Our new Center for Geospatial Analysis (CGA) quickly has become a hub for interdisciplinary scholarship by the William and Mary community. In its new location in Swem Library, CGA fits nicely into both ENSP’s scholastic mission and the library’s broader objectives for data archiving, management, and analysis.
The College’s new sustainability initiative largely is driven by undergraduates, many of whom are ENSP students. The “green fees” collected annually from students support various research and educational programs designed by students to explore ways to improve environmental performance. A new campus rain garden, experimental green roofs, public transportation analysis, and social choice initiatives are just some of the projects involving our ENSP students, some of whom also sit on sustainability working groups and advisory committees.
This spring, ENSP underwent program review by a group of faculty from other undergraduate institutions. The reviewers only had time in their schedule to meet with faculty, but came away from those interviews convinced that our students—through coursework, seminars, independent study, and internships—are given opportunities to confront the different perspectives, scales, and methods of analysis brought to bear on environmental problems across disciplines. The external review validates our approach to environmental studies as a secondary major: we remain committed to giving our students a broad, holistic, interdisciplinary understanding of environmental issues to complement the more traditional, in-depth knowledge derived from their primary major.
Finally, we are losing two of our faculty in 2010. First, our “governess of environmental governance”—Maria Ivanova—is leaving to pursue other opportunities for her family in the U.S. or Europe. Maria brought a unique skill set with an international flair to our environmental program; she will be missed by both colleagues and students alike. Second, the walking library—Dennis Taylor from VIMS—is taking retirement to pursue well-deserved relaxation time wherever he can find it. In one course or another, Dennis probably has taught virtually every ENSP graduate over the last eight years, and we cannot overstate his value to our program. We wish both our colleagues well in their new pursuits.
Enjoy the newsletter—and if you’re so inclined, tell us what you’re doing Downstream from W&M.
RANDY CHAMBERS, Acting Director of ENSP and Director, Keck Environmental Lab