Her Royal Highness, Princess Basma Bint-Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Peter Blaze Corcoran flanked by young Earth Charter staff members
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran recently represented the Center in three international events related to sustainability, the Earth Charter, and education. Corcoran was elected to a steering committee at UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) in Nairobi, Kenya, spoke at a special celebration of Earth Charter +10 in Amman, Jordan, and addressed members of diplomatic delegations at UNESCO in Paris, France.
Corcoran worked on the Global University Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES) Project as part of a United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) meeting in Nairobi. Corcoran has served as an advisor to the project for several years. At this meeting, Dr. Corcoran was elected as one of two delegates to represent North America on the steering committee guiding the development of the GUPES program. While in Kenya, Corcoran also visited the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies.
As a guest of Her Royal Highness, Princess Basma Bint-Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Dr. Corcoran attended a meeting of twelve Arab nations in Amman to discuss the Earth Charter. Corcoran was invited to give an opening address at the celebration and later gave a keynote address on behalf of Earth Charter International. In his talk, Corcoran spoke on the Earth Charter Initiative's ten years of success in the areas of education, private sector, youth and global governance. On the last day of the celebration, the nations of Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and United Arab Emirates signed the Dead Sea Declaration and presented it to Princess Basma. The Declaration represents the commitment of the nations to collaborate to form a regional Earth Charter network with the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD).
In Paris, Corcoran met with the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) Reference Group, an advisory committee to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), with which he has been active for several years. Dr. Corcoran also addressed UNESCO staff and diplomats on "Interactions with Faith Values and Earth Charter Values."
In the culminating event of Earth Charter +10 week, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education and FGCU celebrated the LEED Platinum certification of Academic Building 7, the lives of three recently deceased Native American friends of the Center, and ten years of the Earth Charter. The planting ceremony was originally intended to be an official "Tree of Peace" planting conducted by Chief Jake Swamp, the Native American founder of the Tree of Peace Society. However, due to his unexpected passing, Center staff reimagined the event to reflect this tragic turn of events. Born from this loss was the "University Earth Charter Tree" planting during which we sought to honor indigenous elders Chief Jake Swamp, Oannes Arthur Pritzker, and Deanna Francis.
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran began the event by introducing members of the Meherrin Nation and the Snipe (Sandpiper) Clan, who conducted a Native American Thanksgiving Invocation in their native Tuscarora tongue. Students, Faculty Associates of the Center, and Center staff read excerpts from the Earth Charter and reflected on how the University community might align itself to its ethical principles. After addressing the crowd, each speaker tied a ribbon to a branch of the University Earth Charter Tree. The first two ribbons were the FGCU blue and green, symbolizing water, sky, and land. Black, red, yellow, and white represented the diversity of humankind.
To end the ceremony, the young children from the Family Resource Center on FGCU's campus were invited to help pour water around the base of the tree. Equipped with their own watering containers, the children led the way as the rest of the people in the crowd followed to make their own contributions. The ceremony was an inspiring event and the Center would like to thank all those who attended. The beautiful weather, enchanting music, and inspiring words helped to create a great atmosphere for the event - making the University Earth Charter Tree planting a memorable occasion in Florida Gulf Coast University's history.
As 7:00 rolled around on November 4th, 2010, hundreds of students, faculty members, and community members filed in to the Student Union Ballroom to hear this years Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue on e-waste and ethics. This year's dialogue enjoyed a great audience with an estimated attendance of approximately 350. The Dialogue seeks to raise awareness among Florida Gulf Coast University students and faculty about critical sustainability issues in our region.
This year's event was meant to provide a space for us to reflect on the little explored topic of e-waste and our response to this growing environmental issue. The panelists for the evening took a look at e-waste at FGCU and in the local community, the "big picture" of e-waste in the world, and the ethical principles behind the issue of e-waste. Panelists for the evening included Jim Puckett of the Basal Action Network, Dr. Eric Otto, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities, and Jessica Mendes, graduate student at FGCU. The event was co-moderated by Center student assistants Ariel Chomey and Jordan Yingling, and a special invocation was given by Miccosukee elder, Andy Buster.
Throughout the evening connections were drawn between our precarious relationship with consumer technology and the people and places often affected by our consumerism. As part of his speech, Dr. Eric Otto urged the crowd to become more "materialistic", but not in the conventional senseof the term that means having more stuff and finding abstract meaning in this stuff. Dr. Otto instead urged the crowd to realized that there is indeed a material world that all our stuff comes from and "We too often forget about this material world when we walk into stores that, by design, encourage us to see consumer objects as abstractions like happiness and affiliation." We must become more aware of the effect our increasingly intimate relationship with technology and materials has on the environment so that our consumption habits might then be guided by an increased ethical awareness.
The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue is an event for students, by students. The series focuses on education for a sustainable future, including our role as stewards of our natural, cultural, and political environments. Intended to spark youth action and inspire the intellectual climate among the FGCU and Southwest Florida communities, the initiative fosters an open space for dialogue and student ownership of that dialogue.
The Center would like to thank all who attended the dialogue and encourages anyone wishing to become more involved with the Center or with our student organization, S.A.G.E., to please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 239-590-7166.
During 2010, the Earth Charter Initiative is celebrating the 10th anniversary since the launch of the Earth Charter in 2000. To help celebrate this momentous occasion, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education has decided to organize and hold its own Earth Charter +10 week at FGCU. Earth Charter +10 provides a unique opportunity to expand the outreach and impact of the Earth Charter Initiative globally. The general purpose of Earth Charter+10 is to advance the Mission, Vision, Goals, and Strategic Objectives of the Earth Charter Initiative. Earth Charter +10 events and projects focus special attention on raising awareness and promoting understanding of the Earth Charter, expanding the Earth Charter Network, promoting dialogue, collaboration and action for a sustainable future, and sharing experience and developing goals and objectives for the next decade.
As part of Earth Charter +10 week, the Center has planned a number of different events, including a ceremonial tree planting that will be held on Friday, November 5th, 2010 at 12:00 p.m. The tree will be planted in honor of the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Earth Charter. The recently deceased Chief Jake Swamp will also be honored at the ceremony.
University President Wilson G. Bradshaw, who signed an Affiliate Agreement between FGCU and the Earth Charter Initiative in February 2009, will start the week by hosting a conversation about what it means for the University to be an Affiliate of the global Earth Charter movement. The event will take place from 11:30am to 12:30pm on Monday, November 1, 2010 in the FGCU Student Union. Also taking place during Earth Charter +10 week is the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, one of the Center's signature events. This year's Dialogue is entitled "E-waste and Ethics: Where do Blackberrys Decompose?" and will be held on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 7:00pm.
Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions, and ways of living. We must realize that when basic needs have been met, human development is primarily about being more, not having more.
– Earth Charter Preamble, paragraph 4
As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning. Such renewal is the promise of these Earth Charter principles. To fulfill this promise, we must commit ourselves to adopt and promote the values and objectives of the Charter.
– The Way Forward, Paragraph 1
We have identified principles or supporting principles from the Earth Charter which we see as relating to various activities during the week. The complete text of the Earth Charter can be found at www.earthcharter.org. Hard copies are available in classroom numbers from the Center.
Monday, November 1, 2010
11:30 AM-12:30 PM "What Does It Mean for FGCU to be an Earth Charter Affiliate? A Conversation" SU 213
Sponsored by: FGCU President, Wilson G. Bradshaw
Greeting by: President Bradshaw
Chaired by: Dean Donna Price Henry of the College of Arts and Sciences and Dean Marcia Greene of the College of Education
Principle 13.c. "Protect the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, association, and dissent."
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
12:00 PM-12:30PM WGCU Radio Program Gulf Coast Live
Interview with Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue Panelists. You may listen live by radio or internet.
Principle 16.a. "Encourage and support mutual understanding, solidarity, and cooperation among all peoples and within and among nations."
12:30 PM-1:45 PM Peter Blaze Corcoran to give a talk on the Earth Charter in Maria Roca's First Year Humanities Seminar RH 236
Principle 8.b. "Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being."
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
12:30 PM-1:45PM Peter Blaze Corcoran to give a talk on the Earth Charter in Maria Roca's class RH 236
Principle 14. "Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life."
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue – Ballroom in the Student Union
6:00 PM – Networking Session
7:00 PM – Panel Discussion
E-Waste and Ethics: Where do BlackBerrys Decompose?
Invocation by Miccosukee Elder, Andy Buster
Principle 4.b. "Transmit to future generations values, traditions, and institutions that support the long-term flourishing of Earth's human and ecological communities."
Sanibel Island Writers Conference Begins at 8:00 AM and continues through Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Principle 13.a. "Uphold the right of everyone to receive clear and timely information on environmental matters and all development plans and activities which are likely to affect them or in which they have an interest."
School Science and Mathematics National Conference Begins at 8:00 AM and continues through Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 10:00 PM
Principle 14. "Integrate into formal education and life-long learning the knowledge, values, and skills needed for a sustainable way of life."
Friday, November 5, 2010
Celebrate EC+10 with an Earth Charter Meal
Available at The Perch and the Fresh Food Company (SoVi)
Principle 15.a. "Prevent cruelty to animals kept in human societies and protect them from suffering."
10:30 AM Peter Blaze Corcoran to read Chief Jake Swamp's book to the children at the Family Resource Center
Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message
Principle 12.b. "Affirm the right of indigenous peoples to their spirituality, knowledge, lands and resources and to their related practice of sustainable livelihoods."
12:00 PM-1:00 PM University Earth Charter Tree Planting
On the quad outside AB7
Acknowledgement of the life of the late Oannes Arthur Pritzker, Center Advisor
Acknowledgement of the life of the late Chief Jake Swamp, Center supporter
Principle 16. "Promote a culture of tolerance, nonviolence, and peace."
Saturday, November 6, 2010
7:30 AM Peter Blaze Corcoran delivers School Science and Mathematics Association keynote on Earth Charter ethics, "STEM Education and Costal Environments: Both Damaged by Oil and Dispersants"
Principle 6. "Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach."
Principle 4.a. "Recognize that the freedom of action of each generation is qualified by the needs of future generations."
5:15 PM-6:30 PM President Bradshaw, Thomas DeMarchi, and Peter Blaze Corcoran will host Islanders at the reception of the Sanibel Island Writer's Conference
12:30 PM-1:45PM Peter Blaze Corcoran to give a talk on the Earth Charter in Maria Roca's class RH 236
Principle 8.b. "Recognize and preserve the traditional knowledge and spiritual wisdom in all cultures that contribute to environmental protection and human well-being."
For more information on events, please contact the Center by email at email@example.com or by phone at 239-590-7166.
On November 4-6, 2010, the School Science and Mathematics Association held is 109th annual convention in Fort Myers. The SSMA is a professional association comprised of a combination of researchers and practitioners, with 400 members from five continents (North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia). As a professional community, it is meant to unify researchers and educators to promote research, scholarship, and practice for the improvement and integration of school science and mathematics.
On the third day of the event, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran gave a keynote address entitled "STEM Education and Coastal Environments: Both Damaged by Oil and Dispersants." A copy of Corcoran's speech may be accessed by following this link. In his speech, Corcoran outlined how the oil spill not only affects the environment, but also the four aspects of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Corcoran's contention is that, in addition to the loss of human life and devastating impact on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico represented by the BP spill, "science, technology, engineering, and mathematics were damaged, as well." Dr. Corcoran went on to offer the Earth Charter as a possible solution to the problems laid out in his speech.
Also giving keynote addresses at the convention were Center faculty associates Win Everham and Michael Savarese. Neil Wilkinson, a Senior Faculty Associate of the Center, gave a presentation entitled "Engaging First Year Students by Fusing Composition and Ecology in an Experiential Model." Wilkinson also held the position of Conference Master of Ceremonies. Wilkinson, Everham, and Savarese all served as members of the local planning committee as well.
Entitled, "E-waste and Ethics: Where do BlackBerrys Decompose?," this year's Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue will coincide with the Center's Earth Charter +10 week on campus.The Dialogue is a signature event of the Center, and this year it will focus on the issue of electronic waste, or "e-waste." Due to our ever increasing reliance on consumer technologies, the problem of e-waste continues to grow, and it has been doing so in relative obscurity. Electronic waste is described as discarded, obsolete, or broken electronic devices such as computers, monitors, laptops, televisions, cell phones, DVD players, and portable music players. While many retail companies who manufacturer electronics offer take back programs or sponsor recycling events, policies, procedures, and laws on e-waste are few.
This year's event will provide a space for us to reflect on our response to the little explored topic of e-waste. We will consider whether e-waste is symptomatic of our cultural desire to consume electronics without regard for the ethical consequences. The event will seek to draw connections between our precarious relationship with consumer technology and the people and places that it impacts. During the Dialogue, an array of expert panelists will help our audience participants explore the question of technology, ethics, and sustainability in the hidden lifecycle of the electronics we use every day. We will ask whether our increasingly intimate relationship with technology might be guided by an ethical awareness.
This year's panelists include Jim Puckett of the Basal Action Network, Eric Otto, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities, and Jessica Mendes, graduate student at FGCU. The event will be co-moderated by Center student assistants Ariel Chomey and Jordan Yingling, and a special invocation will be given by Miccosukee elder, Andy Buster.
The Dialogue will take place on Thursday, November 4, 2010, in the Student Union Ballroom on the FGCU campus. The Center invites stakeholders, community members, students, and campus leaders for conversation and snacks outside the Ballroom before the event for a networking session starting at 6:00 p.m. The Dialogue will begin at 7:00 p.m.
For more information, please contact the Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 239-590-7166.
It is with deep sadness that we report the passing of revered Native American elder Chief Jake Swamp on Friday, October 15, 2010. He died unexpectedly at his home at the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation Territory, which borders the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario along the St. Lawrence River.
For over thirty-years, Jake was a Sub-chief of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. His responsibilities included presiding over thanksgiving ceremonies, birth and marriage ceremonies, funeral rites, and the politics of the Nation and the Confederacy. He was the founder of the Tree of Peace Society, which is based on the teachings of the Peacemaker and the formation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. He had reenacted the tree planting ceremony in all parts of Earth and was responsible for the planting of over 200 million trees.
Jake was the founder of the Akwesasne Freedom School, a Mohawk language immersion school where he directed the environmental education program. He was active in politics, human rights, and treaty rights. He served as a negotiator at the Wounded Knee occupation, participated in the Longest Walk, and was involved in many activities related to the plight of the indigenous people of the Americas.
Swamp was scheduled to spend ten days in Southwest Florida in early November and he had agreed to visit in order to lead FGCU's Earth Charter +10 celebration and reflection. In the wake of his passing, the events and activities of Earth Charter +10 week were reorganized and the Center sought to honor his life throughout the week.
We have made one of Jake's writings entitled "Remembering the Ancient Path: The Original Instructions and the Earth Charter" available for you to download at this link. As its title suggests, the chapter is an analysis of the relationship between the Earth Charter and the Original Instructions. You may also access more information on the Tree of Peace Society and Chief Jake Swamp at the following site: http://www.treeofpeacesociety.info/
You can find a web obituary for Jake at http://www.donaldsonfh.com/obituary.php?id=620. The page allows you to send condolences to Jake's friends and family, should you wish to do so.
Picture above from left to right are Win Everham, Joseph Weakland, President Wilson G. Bradshaw, Patricia Fey, Peter Blaze Corcoran, and Brandon Hollingshead
On October 8-9, 2010, Florida Gulf Coast University hosted the Second International Humanities and Sustainability Conference. This year's conference featured a wide variety of participants presenting on a number of different topics. Among this year's many presenters were Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran, Center Research Associate Brandon Hollingshead, and Center Editorial Associate Joseph Weakland.
As part of the first panel of the conference on "Sustainability in Speculative Fiction," Weakland presented a paper entitled " Virtuality and Embodiment in William Gibson's Neuromancer." The paper focused on what the 1984 cyberpunk novel Neuromancer might contribute to our understanding of our changing relationship with digital and virtual technologies such as the Internet.
On the second day of the conference, Hollingshead gave a presentation on "Environmental and Sustainability Education and the Earth Charter." His presentation was entitled "Crafting Principles for Sustainable Development: The Earth Charter and the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development." Directly following Hollingshead's presentation, Corcoran along with Hollingshead and Weakland gave a second presentation entitled "Defining Sustainability with the Earth Charter." In their presentation, they attempted to explore how the humanities can be used to challenge our conception of sustainability, moving beyond a narrow understanding of "sustainable development" and toward a vision of the concept that is about "being more, not having more." They argue that the Earth Charter and its ethical principles can provide educators and students with a comprehensive, integrated vision of sustainability founded on respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, socail and economic justice, and a culture of peace.
Other speakers at the event included Center Faculty Associates Maria Roca, Mary Walch, Myra Mendible, Sean Kelly, Kevin Aho, Jim Wohlpart, Patricia Fay, Win Everham, Linda Rowland, and Neil Wilkinson.
A new year has begun here at FGCU and this year the Center will have a full staff with both new and old faces in the fold. Returning to the Center are: Student Assistants Ariel Chomey and Jordan Yingling, Graduate Assistant Jessica Mendes, Editorial Associate Joseph Weakland, and Program Assistant Kendra Carboneau. The Center will also be welcoming two new members to its team this year: Graduate Assistant Emily Porter and Student Assistant Michael Verdi. We also welcome back former Student Assistant Brandon Hollingshead. Brandon has returned to FGCU and is now teaching at the University. He will continue to work as Research Associate at the Center. With the addition of Emily, Michael, and Brandon, we have great aspirations for the upcoming school year.
Emily Porter is an Environmental Studies Graduate Student in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Emily volunteers at Barefoot Beach giving Interpretive Nature Talks on Florida's coastal ecosystems. She also assists with tracking and monitoring Sea Turtles during nesting season. She is a Florida Coastal Master Naturalist. One of Emily's roles at the Center is to assist Dr. Corcoran with promoting humane and sustainable food initiatives at FGCU.
Michael Verdi was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but spent the majority of his youth in a small town in South Jersey. He came to Southwest Florida and enrolled at FGCU in 2006, but he took a semester off in 2008 to work for a non-profit environmental organization in Manhattan called Environment New York. He returned to FGCU in 2009, and he is currently a senior majoring in environmental studies with a minor in journalism. He is interested in joining the Peace Corps as an environmental volunteer after he graduates and possibly continuing his education after that. He hopes to do some sort of environmental reporting, and he eventually wants to teach.
Brandon Hollingshead graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2005 with a major in environmental communication and a minor in literature. He is a member of the Earth Charter Youth Initiative Core Group and actively participated in the editing of the book The Earth Charter in Action: Toward a Sustainable World (KIT Publishers 2005). Hollingshead studied under Terry Tempest Williams in the Environmental Humanities graduate program at University of Utah.
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran was officially appointed to the honorary position of Adjunct Professor at the University of the South Pacific on September 7, 2010, in Suva, Fiji. The University of the South Pacific (USP) is the premier institution of higher learning for the Pacific region - one of extraordinary physical, social and economic diversity. USP has fourteen campuses throughout the South Pacific and was established in 1968. It is one of only two universities of its type in the world. It is jointly owned by the governments of 12 member countries: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa. The objectives of USP are broadly defined as "the maintenance, advancement and dissemination of knowledge by teaching, consultancy and research and otherwise and for the provision of appropriate levels of education and training responsive to the well-being and needs of the communities in the South Pacific."
At USP, Dr. Corcoran will be a member of the Faculty of Science, Technology, and Environment (FSTE) and will be responsible for assisting in the academic work of the Faculty, advising and assisting the Faculty in the writing of their courses, postgraduate programs, thesis supervision, staff research and publications, as well as helping to advise or assist with consultancy work undertaken by the Faculty. Dr. Corcoran's appointment is in honor of over twenty-years of work at the community level in Fiji.
Dr. Corcoran's appointment as Adjunct Professor was preceded by the signing of a memorandum of agreement between FGCU and the University of the South Pacific, of which Dr. Corcoran will be in charge of advancing. The relationship is meant to focus on ideas and innovations on environmental sustainability, exchange of research possibilities, sharing of distance education opportunities, relationships among education, business, and cultural organizations, student exchanges, and faculty exchanges. The agreement between the universities is meant to serve as an initial agreement between the two universities whereby they agree to pursue a deeper level of commitment and relationship in the six different aspects mentioned above.
The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University participated in a conference celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Earth Charter at the International Peace Palace in the city of The Hague, The Netherlands. With the theme of "Dialogue, Collaboration and Action for a Sustainable Future," the June 29 event was ten years to the day since the launch of the Earth Charter in 2000. The document is a people's statement of ethical principles for sustainability drafted through a global collaborative process. Its proponents include President Mikhail Gorbachev and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, both of whom are associated with the Center at FGCU. Participants in The Netherlands meetings reflected on the international initiative's first decade and charted a course for its future.
Over 200 invitees attended the event, including Earth Charter Commissioners, Affiliates, members of the Earth Charter International Council, youth leaders, and other partners. Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende actively participated. The event was convened by former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. 850 interested people who were not able to travel to The Hague followed the discussions on-line.
The event also featured several new books focusing on the Earth Charter. Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran shared his recent publication, Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development: Exploring Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis (2009) at an authors' reception. Dutch officials from the national program, "Learning for Sustainable Development," helped fund the publication and attended its European debut.
Corcoran said, "This international meeting provided an important opportunity to look at FGCU's work in the global context. FGCU is an active Affiliate of the Earth Charter Initiative (ECI) and contributes through the Center's Earth Charter Scholarship Project." The Earth Charter Scholarship Project is housed at FGCU and is directed by Richard Clugston, who also attended the Netherlands meeting. The university signed a formal Affiliate Agreement with ECI in February 2009.
FGCU Professor Peter Blaze Corcoran recently traveled to Africa to meet with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai. He was invited to help chart a course for the newly-created Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi. At a three-day strategic planning workshop beginning on May 20, 2010, Corcoran and other participants worked to draft a strategic plan with a vision, mission, and guiding principles for the organization. In the spirit of Maathai's work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the young Institute aims to catalyze "social, economic, and cultural development" across Africa.
The Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies shares many of the same goals and objectives of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU, which Corcoran directs. Corcoran's insight into how to establish and maintain such an institution was particularly helpful in developing a strategic plan. "We have some perspective to share based on our six years of experience at the Center," he said, but added, "We also have much to learn from the challenges and successes of environmental education in Africa."
Corcoran and Maathai have collaborated in the past on other projects, including efforts to elevate the Earth Charter within the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development initiative. Maathai also contributed a Preface for Corcoran's most recent book, Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development: Exploring Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis (2009). The Center has extended an invitation to Maathai to give a Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture and hopes she will agree to come to Sanibel Island for the event.
Corcoran began his journey at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where he was invited by Deputy Vice Chancellor Sizwe Mabizela (pictured right) to attend a Southern Africa Development Corporation conference. While at the event, Corcoran consulted with the Environmental Education and Sustainability Unit at Rhodes, which focuses on teaching, research, and community engagement in South Africa. He also lectured at two botanical gardens in Johannesburg and Pretoria on the Earth Charter, an international declaration of ethical principles for sustainable development. In addition, Corcoran's work in Africa includes advising the United Nations Environment Program's "Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities" partnership.
"While we are privileged to make a modest contribution globally, we also celebrate our work in the local community of Southwest Florida," said Corcoran. The theme of the Center's 2010 Annual Fundraising Celebration was "Bloom Where You're Planted: Focus on the Local." The organization's local work includes hosting public lectures on campus and within the community, uplifting FGCU's mission of environmental sustainability in campus operations, and assisting faculty who wish to integrate the concept of sustainability into their teaching. The Center recently met a $10,000 fundraising challenge issued by Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer, who host the annual event at their home on Sanibel Island.
As we continue to witness the impact of the BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico, the Center would like to announce the publication of Unspoiled, a literary project aimed at preserving Florida's coasts. The publication was co-edited by Center Senior Scholar A. James Wohlpart, and was released in Summer 2010. You can order the book at its website at http://www.unspoiledbook.com/, from which we share the following description:
"We Floridians love our coasts. We love our fishing. We love to swim and surf and eat seafood and build sand castles. Florida's beaches are pure white stretches of bliss that feed our souls, a natural gift as important as the Rocky Mountains or the Grand Canyon.
Now, as we face the Gulf of Mexico's worst ever environmental disaster, the British Petroleum oil spill off Louisiana, we must ask: How could it possibly be worth it to risk the health of Florida's number-one economic engine – its coasts – at the hands of the careless and unaccountable oil industry?
In this volume, 38 writers, scientists and students share their abiding love of Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast and its sea life. Unspoiled reminds us that now is the time to shift from the oil dependent, industrial economy that is devastating our planet and driving climate change. It is time to transform our culture into a way of living in balance with the greater web of all beings, a culture based on truly sustainable lifestyles and clean, renewable energy sources."
Susan Cerulean, Janisse Ray,
and A. James Wohlpart
"A lively assemblage of strong arguments for the environmental preservation of Florida's wonderful wild coasts."
– Peter Matthiessen, National Book Award-winning American novelist
"A lyrical volume to remind Floridians that our coastline is not just our greatest natural asset. It's our greatest asset, period. Unspoiled also evokes another state treasure: our writers. Florida's literary luminescence shines from these pages."
– Cynthia Barnett, Senior Writer at Florida Trend magazine, and author of Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.
"The potential benefits to Florida of offshore drilling are modest; the risks incalculable. Thirty eight writers have drawn a line in the sand and joined a growing chorus of voices across the state in support of the best of what Florida represents, now and in the future."
– John Moran, nature photographer and author of Journal of Light: The Visual Diary of a Florida Nature Photographer
Publication of this book was made possible in part by a subvention from the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University.\
(Birds flock around an oil containment boom near the fragile coast of Louisiana. Photograph: Sean Gardner/Reuters)
Many in Florida are concerned that the BP oil spill will impact the environment and economy of our state. As the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education reflects on the tragic consequences of the BP oil spill, we are reminded of the sixth ethical principle of the Earth Charter, as well as its supporting principles:
6. Prevent harm as the best method of environmental protection and, when knowledge is limited, apply a precautionary approach.
a. Take action to avoid the possibility of serious or irreversible environmental harm even when scientific knowledge is incomplete or inconclusive.
b. Place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm, and make the responsible parties liable for environmental harm.
c. Ensure that decision making addresses the cumulative, long-term, indirect, long distance, and global consequences of human activities.
d. Prevent pollution of any part of the environment and allow no build-up of radioactive, toxic, or other hazardous substances.
e. Avoid military activities damaging to the environment.
Principle 6 is often called the "precautionary principle," because it asks us to take measures in advance to prevent ecological harm. The Gulf oil spill reminds us that technological development carries great, but preventable, risks. In an early response to the disaster, BP CEO Tony Hayward told National Public Radio that "the failure of the blowout preventer... is an unprecedented accident. It is the ultimate safety system on any rig and there is no precedent for them failing." In reality, we not only know the basic truth that all mechanical devices are prone to failure - we've also seen the environmental and social consequences that occur when innovation goes awry. Ecological and social catastrophes such as the Chernobyl disaster, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the ongoing global recession generated by insolvent American banks are historical lessons we might look to when evaluating our actions. In short, the BP oil spill is anything but "unprecedented." The Earth Charter also warns us against the dangerous allure of technological hubris, and asks us to "place the burden of proof on those who argue that a proposed activity will not cause significant harm." Unfortunately, this burden of proof wasn't placed on BP, and now the burden of ecological harm rests heavily on the people, animals, and natural systems who are suffering as a result of the spill.
Indeed, according to Larry Schweiger, President of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), "Though two decades have passed since the Exxon Valdez spill occurred in Alaska, the oil industry and the various governmental enforcement agencies don't seem to have learned much. With a huge volume of oil flowing in the Gulf of Mexico unabated, we clearly have an epic catastrophe unfolding. The greatest coastal wetland system in America is at the height of spring wildlife nesting season. It now faces what may be the largest oil spill in the nation's history. It is hard to imagine a more dire situation."
As you reflect on this unfolding ecological calamity, we encourage you to visit NWF's newly-launched website for "How You Can Help Wildlife Impacted by the Louisiana Oil Spill." The Coastal Watershed Institute at FGCU has also created a webpage that they will continue to update as more information becomes available: Oil Spill Information.
You may also be interested in "The True Cost of Oil," an essay written by Sanibel resident, author, and Center supporter Charles Sobczak. "The True Cost of Oil," explores the IXTOC 1 oil spill, a thirty-one-year-old disaster that dumped nearly 140 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education has met its annual "Haffenreffer Challenge." Thanks to donations received from its many supporters on Sanibel Island, as well as generous gifts from the Thomas Berry Foundation and the American Teilhard Association, the Center was able to surpass the goal of $10,000 set by philanthropists Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer.
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran commented, "We were especially pleased with the increased number of gifts from Sanibel and Captiva Islands this year, as we recognize the difficult choices that givers must make in these times of great need in the local community." He went on to say, "We were also thrilled to receive two major gifts from prestigious philosophical societies whose work inspires us at the Center. These gifts allowed us to more than double our fundraising goal."
The Thomas Berry Foundation is a private foundation whose mission is to "to carry out the Great Work of Thomas [Berry] in enhancing the flourishing of the Earth community." The Foundation seeks to achieve its goals through four major initiatives: enhancing American environmental theologian and cultural historian Thomas Berry's legacy, creating a new field of study with implications for policy, promoting a moral force for environmental action, and fostering knowledge of the universe story.
The American Teilhard Association is guided by the writings of French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The Association seeks to bring "an encompassing perspective to the task of shaping the well-being of the entire earth community, at a time when so many crises threaten it." You can learn more about these organizations at the following websites: http://www.thomasberry.org/ and http://www.teilharddechardin.org/.
The Center thanks all those who made donations, as well as those who helped make the Sixth Annual Fundraising Celebration a success. The March 18, 2010 event took place at the Haffenreffer's beachside home on Sanibel Island. Entitled, "Bloom Where You're Planted: Focus on the Local," the event celebrated the role of the Center at FGCU and in the local community, its work with young people, and the wisdom of elders. The event featured organic food prepared with ingredients grown by local organic gardeners. The Center relies on support from the Southwest Florida community to continue its "work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action."
A detailed measure of the Center's progress is exhibited in the Center's recently published Five Year Report, Works Toward Realizing the Dream (pictured). To request a copy of the report, contact the FGCU Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at (239) 590-7166 or e-mail: email@example.com.
At the invitation of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, for an International Earth Day celebration on April 22, 2010. President Calderon delivered a national Earth Day address, in which he said, "the Earth Charter is... calling humanity to join forces and act collectively to protect our planet, which is definitely in danger. The Earth Charter is a global movement... we should make it grow to guarantee that the world will continue to be a hospitable home, a safe place for all people and all forms of life with which share [Earth]." The primary focus of the event was the tenth anniversary celebration of the Earth Charter, an international declaration of shared ethical principles for creating a just, sustainable, and peaceful future.
Corcoran spoke at an Earth Charter conference at the University of Guanajuato. You can download the text of his talk at this link. Steven C. Rockefeller, who served as Chair of the Earth Charter drafting committee, delivered a talk on "Harmony between Human Rights and the Earth Charter." In his speech, Rockefeller explored the relationship between the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) and the Earth Charter. Rockefeller was one of several scholars who visited Sanibel Island in 2009. His talk in Mexico echoed his Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture at Saint Michael and All Angels Church. The mayor of Guanajuato presented Rockefeller with the keys to the city at a ceremony earlier in the day. In the picture to the left, Corcoran (left) and Rockefeller (right) explore Guanajuato after their talks.
It is with deep sadness that we report the loss of a great friend of Mother Earth and of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education. On April 17, 2010, Oannes Arthur Pritzker passed to the spirit world in his sleep last weekend at his Naples home under the slash pines. Oannes was a long-time friend of the Center and a member of our Board of Advisors.
Oannes was a forest ecologist, a spiritual ecologist, and a radio journalist. He advised Florida Gulf Coast University since its founding. He also advised us on the University Colloquium. He generously counseled the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education from our earliest planning charrettes through his attendance at our board meeting last month. He was director of Yat Kitischee Native Center, an intertribal, cultural, environmental, social justice, and news media organization. He served on the Board of Advisors of Radio for Peace International, and was host and producer of the award winning global community radio program "Honoring Mother Earth – Indigenous Voices." For many years he was involved in the national environmental justice movement. He was a proud member of the American Indian Movement and often expressed satisfaction at the size of his FBI file.
To the best of our knowledge, he was the last of the Penobscot tribe, from what is now called Maine, who was raised in the traditional way. He was lifted up at his birth by his six aunties. He spoke Penobscot and was knowledgeable in the life ways of the Penobscot tribe. He grew up in material poverty and spiritual richness on Indian Island in the Penobscot River.
We were blessed to have him in Florida at Florida Gulf Coast University and at the Center. Among his many contributions to the Center was his suggestion that we establish a distinguished lecture series. Oannes also encouraged us to consider the contribution of a wide array of cultural knowledges to the discourse of sustainability. We will remember his decades of activism, bringing indigenous wisdom to environmental education, and keeping alive Penobscot knowledge and traditional wisdom.
Oannes came from an oral tradition. Only on a few occasions could we convince him to write down his ideas. We share two recent excerpts from his writings. "The Message of the Firefly" can be read at this link. The other is the introduction to his chapter in Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development, in which he explores the indigenous Earth ethic "Oositgamoo." It is below.
"Oositgamoo: An Indigenous Perspective on Youth Activism"
Oositgamoo is an Algonquin Native American term that refers to protecting Mother Earth, our biosphere, and the well-being of all life. Implicit in the word Oositgamoo is serious, thoughtful concern and personal action for creating a better world. This Earth ethic is being embraced by young people, students, and youth activists everywhere. Those of us who are engaged in education for sustainable development must better appreciate and support the global youth movement of activists who are fighting for what I term peace and planetary justice. Internationally, young people are involved in a range of direct actions for cultural, social, economic, environmental, and sustainability issues. Many refer to this as the youth anti-globalization movement. Some call these young radicals. Whatever term is used to label these young people, we must respect, encourage, and learn from youth who are working for a just and sustainable future.
Oositgamoo is an Earth ethic that is taught by native elders to indigenous youth. One central tenet of this pedagogy is the principle of seven future generations. This principle refers to how one is taught to consider ways in which one's thoughts and actions affect future generations of all life on the planet. This is why native pedagogy instills values and principles that encourage and support our younger generations to actively care for their community and natural environment. Teaching young people in indigenous societies takes place both formally and informally. Storytelling and young people observing daily tribal life are two examples of informal learning.
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran reflects, "I treasured his wisdom, his humility, and his commitment to youth. We had been friends for over thirty years – since our days of working on the Maine Indian Education Project at the University of Maine. We were both involved in the original Earth Day, forty years ago today. He discussed this just last week with students in my environmental education class. I remember many things that he has taught me – as some of you will, I'm sure."
We have received an outpouring of tributes to Oannes. We invite you to send us your reflections on Oannes's life and activism. Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will post them on this tribute page to Oannes Arthur Pritzker.
On April 1, FGCU graduate students in FGCU's English M.A. program participated in a panel on "Rhetoric, Composition, and Popular Culture: Innovations in First Year Composition" at the Popular Culture and American Culture Associations National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. FGCU graduate student and Center Editorial Associate Joseph Weakland contributed a paper titled "Composition as Ecological Study: Writing and Sustainability at FGCU," graduate student Rob Hiatt's paper was titled "Uncritical Unconsciousness: The Paternalistic Oppression of the Five-Paragraph Essay," and Chris Forsee gave his talk the name "Another Satisfied Customer: Getting Students to Think Creatively by Injecting Advertising Strategies into the Composition Classroom." Dr. Karen Tolchin coordinated the panel and delivered a paper called "The (Role) Play's the Thing: Preparing for the Composition Classroom with Worst Case Scenario-esque Improvisation."
Weakland's paper explored the practice of teaching sustainability in composition from his perspective as a graduate student and teaching assistant at FGCU. The paper provides a brief history of sustainability in the University's institutional and curricular practice, explains key concepts and terms, describes recent efforts to integrate sustainability into the Composition One classroom, and reflects on the challenges and potential of such an effort for the study of writing. Pictured below, left to right, are Hiatt, Forsee, Tolchin, and Weakland.
The Center would like to thank all those who helped make the Sixth Annual Fundraising Celebration a success. Your support makes the Center's efforts possible. The Center offers special thanks to hosts Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer (far right and left below), who have for a fifth straight year issued a fundraising challenge. They will match donations to the Center up to a total of ten-thousand dollars. It is through your donations that we are able to continue to "work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action."
We are over half-way to meeting the challenge of $10,000. Contributions of any size at this time would be most welcome. If you would like to make a donation to help us meet the "Haffenreffer Challenge," please contact the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at (239) 590-7166 or e-mail: email@example.com.
The Center Five Year Report is a summary of the Center's five years of activity and a statement of our prospective activities for the years to come. Graduate student and Center assistant Brandon Hollingshead edited and compiled the report. It was designed and published in collaboration with graphic design company Alice Design in Maine. We created the report to give to our faithful supporters and stakeholders – and to new friends, donors, and foundations who may be interested in supporting our work. Much of the activity in the Five Year Report is a direct result of recommendations from our Board. As part of the report, Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai reflected on the Center's anniversary:
"Activities that devastate the environment and societies continue unabated. Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own. The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University is engaged in the shift to a sustainable future through its Earth Charter scholarly agenda. The Center's work in environmental education and social education points toward a better world."
To download the report in its entirety, click here.
If you would like a hard copy of the report, contact the FGCU Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at (239) 590-7166 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center staff, volunteers, and friends celebrate a successful evening
The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education held its Sixth Annual Fundraising Celebration on Sanibel Island last Thursday, March 18, 2010. The event is the major fundraising event for the Center and helps to further its sustainability initiatives locally and globally. Entitled, "Bloom Where You're Planted: Focus on the Local," the event celebrated the role of the Center at FGCU and in the local community, its work with young people, and the wisdom of our elders.
The event featured organic hors d'oeuvres prepared with ingredients grown by local organic gardeners. Guests socialized and learned about the Center's initiatives in the local community. A detailed description of the Center's work can be found in its recently published report, "Works Toward Realizing the Dream." The report examines the Center's five years of activity and was given to all who attended the event. Event contributors included members of the Center's Board of Advisors, student assistants, and volunteers.
The hosts of the event, Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer, have continued an annual tradition of energizing donor participation with "The Haffenreffer Challenge." In addition to their generosity as hosts of the Fundraising Celebration, the Haffenreffer family will match any donation offered to the Center, up to a total of ten thousand dollars. The Center would like to thank those who attended the event and made donations to help fund our efforts. If you would still like to make a contribution, contact the FGCU Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at (239) 590-7166 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran has been invited to become an Adjunct Professor at the University of the South Pacific and to be a Visiting Professor at the Universiti Sains Malaysia.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) has fourteen campuses throughout the South Pacific and is the premier institution of higher learning for the Pacific region, uniquely placed in a region of extraordinary physical, social and economic diversity. Established in 1968, USP is one of only two universities of its type in the world. It is jointly owned by the governments of 12 member countries: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Samoa. The objectives of USP are broadly defined as "the maintenance, advancement and dissemination of knowledge by teaching, consultancy and research and otherwise and for the provision of appropriate levels of education and training responsive to the well-being and needs of the communities in the South Pacific."
The Universiti Sains Malaysia is a pioneering, transdisciplinary research intensive university located in Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. Since its beginning, USM has implemented a school system, as opposed to the traditional faculty system, which allows students the opportunity to explore other areas of study offered by another school. This interdisciplinary approach ensures that USM, the first in the country to adopt this system, will produce trained, multi-skilled graduates.
Unique to USM is "The University in a Garden" concept, which is designed to link university's educational mission with its ecological and social context. USM is a garden campus that provides a platform for students to explore who they are, how they attain insights, and how they should fashion their future existence. USM's mission is to empower future talents and enable the bottom billions to transform their socio-economic well-being.
Island Residents Yvonne Hill and Sam Webster with Peter Blaze Corcoran (sitting)and Store owner, Holly Schmid (on left) at the Book signing
Sanibel Island Book Shop held a book signing on March 20, 2010 for Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran's most recent book, Young People, Education, and Sustainable Development: Exploring Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis. The book was co-edited by Corcoran and Philip Molo Osano and the two were assisted by Joseph Paul Weakland and Brandon P. Hollingshead. Funding for the book and an initial press run was generously provided by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management, and Food Quality.
At the signing, Corcoran discussed the importance of the book and its main focus. The book offers a global perspective on education initiatives by and for young people that promote a transition to sustainability. Young people have an enormous stake in the present and future state of Earth as almost half of the human population is under the age of 25. If young people's resources of energy, time, and knowledge are misdirected towards violence, terrorism, socially-isolating technologies, and unsustainable consumption, civilization risks destabilization. Yet, there is a powerful opportunity for society if young people can participate positively in all aspects of sustainable development. In order to do so, young people need education, political support, resources, skills, and hope.
The book features 38 essays co-authored by 68 contributors from 25 nations, representing a diversity of geography, gender, and generation.The book also features a Preface from Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai, a Foreword from former Secretary General of the UNDP James Gustave Speth, and an Afterword from former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers.
Click here to view ordering information from the publisher's website.
FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw, Vice President Joe Shepard, and Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran visited the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, on January 29, 2010. In his book Design on the Edge (2006), Center Advisor David Orr tells the story of how the Lewis Center became the first substantially green building to be built on a college campus. Orr, who serves as Director of Oberlin's Environmental Studies Program, invited FGCU to come visit the building which has attracted worldwide attention as a model for ecological design. The visit to Oberlin College was meant to be educational as well as inspirational; the Center is collaborating with the FGCU administration to continue its efforts to make our campus infrastructure more sustainable.
The 13,600-square-foot Lewis Center relies heavily on the sun for daylight, passive heating, and power - half of which is supplied by an expansive photovoltaic system. The building also features a closed-loop groundwater heat pump system that provides cooling and heating. A wastewater treatment system modeled on natural wetland ecosystems treats 200 to 300 gallons of the building's wastewater each day and is maintained and monitored by students. Designers used energy-efficient components for the building and the materials used were local, non-toxic, and durable. The net result of all the planning and hard work is a building with a measured energy savings of 63% as compared to a traditionally-constructed building. In creating the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, Orr and the designers intended not only to create a place for classes, but also a building that would redefine the relationship between humans and the environment.
In other travels, Peter Blaze visited Ramapo College of New Jersey over winter break to conduct an on-site review as an external consultant to the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education. Corcoran conducted a review of Ramapo's petition to offer a Master of Arts in Sustainability Studies. Upon review of Ramapo's proposal, Corcoran recommended approval for Ramapo to "exceed mission" to offer a degree of Master of Arts in Sustainability. Corcoran told the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education that he believed the degree could become a mark of distinction for Ramapo College.
While on his trip, Peter Blaze made a stop in New York to meet with Center Advisor and educational philosopher Maxine Greene. At 91 years old, Greene is unable to travel. However, she continues to teach and mentor students! Greene is a Professor Emeritus in the Teachers College at Columbia University and she is also the author of several books. Corcoran met with Greene to discuss Center news and upcoming events.