Posted by: Nick Voss | November 10, 2013

Guest Speakers and Visions for the Future

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STEWARDSHIP COURSE—Now that we’ve moved into the second half of the semester, the past two weeks of the stewardship course have touched on some exceptionally real-world, heavy-hitting themes. The Stewardship curriculum at this point in the semester encourages students to begin to focus on what’s in store for them after the semester has ended.

On October 30th, Conserve School hosted Dr. Saeid Nooshabadi, professor of computer engineering at Michigan Tech University. Dr. Nooshabadi spoke to the students about environmental computing, a burgeoning discipline which offers great opportunity to interested students. Dr.  Saied focused on the concepts of sustainable cities, the integration of new technologies and citizen science, and the basics of solar energy technology. Cities, Dr. Saied shared, are not only the mega-centers of the world’s population, but also places where technology is driving ahead. Technologies from cellphone apps are one way of creating feedback loops, in which everyday citizens can help build a database of environmental data. Tree canopy, bird sightings, air quality, water quality or even carpool networks are all useful streams of information that help scientists and professionals understand the current state of the environment, comparing it to the past, and setting goals for the future of sustainability. Dr. Saied also brought a small demonstration of an active solar panel, which converts energy from light into usable electricity.

On November 6th, Conserve School staff Robert Eady (art and environmental science) and Nancy Schwartz (art) as well as Graduate Fellow Zoe Manickam shared with students their experiences in Peace Corps. Robert and Nancy served together in Niger, working on the development of forestry plots to help local residents manage their wood resources, which are mostly used for cooking fuel. They also gave a glimpse to the culture, family life, transportation and local wildlife in the area (particularly the ostrich!). Zoe served in Peace Corps in Rukuruku Fiji, working on marine resource management. Zoe described her cross-cultural experience with stories of her host family, Fijian food, and uplifting descriptions of local children. The entire presentation gave students a feel for living and working abroad, and provided insight into how service can be a major step into developing a career (utilizing Peace Corps as preparation for work, graduate school opportunities, or finding non-governmental organizations with job opportunities).

The stewardship speakers complement the work that students have been doing in the “Gather Grow Go” segment of the course. Students have had the opportunity to prepare their resumes and discuss how to make a difference with various approaches to activism. These speakers and class lessons are first steps to leave Conserve School with an inspired and tangible outlook on life, ready to make a difference in their local communities and beyond.

PS- The Stewardship in Action projects are still going strong, even with a few dustings of snow!

-Nick, Academic Coordinator Grad Fellow


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