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Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education

2011 Archive

 
 

Center to Host Pulitzer Prize Winner for Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture

Mary Oliver.  Photograph by Rob Howard.

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is excited to announce the Lecturer for this year's Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture.  This year’s Lecturer will be the celebrated poet, Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Lannan Foundation Literary Award, and the National Book Award for poetry.   The Lecture is held as part of our Annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend on February 17-18, 2012, and will also include our Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration on Sanibel. 

Mary Oliver is widely-recognized for her lyrical poems that use vivid imagery to portray the natural world.  The Center has chosen Mary Oliver for this year’s Lecture because her poetry renders the gravity, grace, and beauty of the ordinary world and inspires a universal “sense of wonder.”  Much like Rachel Carson’s unparalleled contributions to human understanding of our environment, Mary Oliver’s work has inspired deep appreciation for the wildness and beauty of nature.

The Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture is a signature event of the Center that aspires to brings public intellectuals to Southwest Florida to discuss issues such as sustainability, ethics, democracy, and literature.  Past lecturers include Terry Tempest Williams, Mary Evelyn Tucker, David Orr, Homero Aridjis, and others.  This year’s Lecture will be a poetry reading with commentary, and will be held at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island, Friday, February 17, 2012 at 7:30 pm.  The Lecture will be free and open to the public.  Seats will be reserved for contributors to the Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration.  For more information on this year's Lecture and Mary Oliver please go to our Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Series page. 

Culminating the extraordinary Weekend will be the Center's Eighth Annual Fundraising Celebration on Saturday, February 18, 2012, from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the beachfront home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer on Sanibel Island.  This is the major fundraising event for the Center and helps us to further our sustainability initiatives locally and globally.  At the Fundraising Celebration, remarks will be made by Poet Alison Hawthorne Deming and Center Co-chairs Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr.

Invitations to the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend have been mailed out to the Center's mailing list.  For more information on the events or to request an invitation, please contact the Center by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at (239)-590-7166.

Center Represents FGCU at National Humanities Conference

Tthe Center’s Senior Scholar, Jim Wohlpart, and Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran recently traveled up to St. Petersburg, Florida to attend the 2011 National Humanities Conference.

Wohlpart and Corcoran attended the conference on Friday, November 4, 2011. The event hosted over three hundred participants from all fifty states and several US territories that were brought together to discuss what "The American Dream" means to the citizens of our nation. Renowned author, poet, and Center Board Member Terry Tempest Williams was selected to be this year’s Walter Capps Memorial Lecturer. She passionately addressed how the American Dream should be re-imagined as a dream of Earth.

According to the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the conference was intended to inspire participants to challenge how the humanities might help us to sustain ideals, inspire civility, rekindle hope, and re-envision the American Dream.

Wohlpart and Corcoran led an Earth Charter Workshop at the conference.  They worked with educators and humanities scholars on the use of the Earth Charter in their work. They challenged participants to embrace its guiding principles in their re-imagination of the American Dream. Corcoran said, “We were pleased to find so many professional staff of state humanities councils who were eager to use the Earth Charter to create programs for teachers in their states.”

The Conference was sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council, in conjunction with the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the Workshop was organized by a former Student Assistant of the Center, Diane Wakeman, who is now working as the Program Coordinator for the Florida Humanities Council.

 For more information about the Florida Humanities Council or the work of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education please contact us by e-mail at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at (239) 590-7166.

Center Enjoys Successful Evening at Sixth Annual

Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education would like to thank all those who came out for our annual Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue on Thursday, October 27, 2011.  The event was a great success with students, faculty, administrators, and community members all joining us for an exciting and informative evening.

The night began with a networking session with snacks and refreshments prepared by Center staff.  The session allowed guests to meet and talk with area conservation organizations and student groups.  In total there were seventeen organizations and groups who came to spread their own message on "Ocean Conservation and Sustainability."  We send a special thanks to these organizations who offered their time and knowledge for our event.  We would also like to thank our Distinguished Keynote Listeners are for attending, Provost Ronald Toll, Seafood Savvy Coordinator Capt. Jeff Werner, Director and Co-Founder of Sanibel Sea School Dr. Bruce Neill, and Collier County’s Sea Grant Marine Scientist Bryan Fluech. These well-respected community leaders were acknowledged for their ability to help relay the messages of ocean conservation and sustainability into the wider community.

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran opened the dialogue portion of the event with brief remarks on the Center's work and the rich history of the Dialogue. The event of course takes its name from the celebrated nature writer and activist, Terry Tempest Williams who was invited and then dis-invited to speak at FGCU’s 2004 freshman convocation by former FGCU President William Merwin.  Upon hearing of the president's actions, a group of FGCU students extended a separate invitation for her to speak on campus. Williams accepted and, in the end, was welcomed by the President.  Hundreds of students came to hear her speak on the ‘‘Open Space for Democracy,’’ and from this student response emerged our annual Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue.   

This year's Dialogue entitled, "Ocean Conservation and Sustainability,"  focused on the negative effects that human activities have on marine ecosystems.  Panelists Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the Ocean Conservancy in Washington D.C., and Sheila Bowman, Senior Manager of Outreach and Education for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program in Monterey, California, addressed many of the major issues affecting the health of our oceans.  The two panelists spoke on their areas of expertise and on how we may resolve the many problems facing our oceans.

The evening ended with a lively question and answer session during which members of the audience were given the opportunity to ask the two panelists specific questions on topics covered earlier in the evening.  The panelists fielded a wide variety of questions from the diverse audience and candidly answered each question.  The two panelists provided a wealth of information to the audience and we thank them for donating their time and expertise for the Dialogue.

Thanks again to all who helped to make this year's dialogue a success.  For more information on "Ocean Conservation and Sustainability" or the Center please contact Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran by phone at (239) 590-7166 or by email at cese@fgcu.edu

 

The World, and the Center, Have Lost a Great Friend

It is with deep bereavement, that we mark the loss of a great friend of Mother Earth and of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.  On September 25, 2011, Wangari Muta Maathai passed away in Nairobi, Kenya after a courageous battle with cancer.  Wangari is survived by her three children, Waweru, Wanjira, and Muta—and a granddaughter, Ruth Wangari. 

Wangari was a brave pioneer for environmental sustainability, the rights of women and girls, and democracy in Africa.  She was the first women in East Africa to earn a doctorate, and the first to serve as a professor.  In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement which has since planted over 47 million trees in her native Kenya and beyond.  She served on the Earth Charter Drafting Committee and was an ambassador for the Earth Charter movement until her death.  Throughout her adult life she tirelessly advocated for the rights of nature and the empowerment of people.  The slogan of the Green Belt Movement is “Rise up and walk!”

We were blessed at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education by her June 2011 agreement to serve as our Distinguished International Advisor.  Recently, she provided advice to Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran on our strategic planning process.  Corcoran had been privileged to participate in the strategic planning process for the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies located at the University of Nairobi.  Corcoran affectionately recalls his time spent with Wangari saying, “I was privileged to know Wangari since the launch of the Earth Charter in 2000.  I was always humbled that she took an interest in the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.”  Corcoran went on to say, “She was a great inspiration; she taught me that nothing is achieved unless one makes a great effort.  This is the point, I believe of her favorite fable, "The Story of the Hummingbird," as she told it.”

"The story starts with an enormous fire, which breaks out and rages through the forest.  All the animals, both big and small, flee to the forest edge to watch the conflagration---all, that is, except a hummingbird.  "I will do something about this fire!" says the tiny bird.  So it flies to the nearest stream and dives beneath the surface.  Rising into the air, it carries a bead of water in its beak that it releases over the flames.  The fire is huge, but over and over, the hummingbird flies to the stream, returns with a droplet in its beak, and lets its fall onto the flames.  Each time, the bird believes that this one drop might make the difference.  While this is happening, the other animals---some with long trunks and large mouths like the elephant, giraffe, lion, and leopard---laugh at the diminutive creature.  "What do you think you're doing?" they jeer.  "You're only a hummingbird.  You can see big the forest fire is.  Do you think you're going to do any good at all?"  Without wasting any time and tired of their discouraging words and inaction, the hummingbird turns to the other animals as it prepares to fly back to the river, and says, "Well, I'm doing the best I can!""

At the end of her last book, Replenishing the Earth: Spiritual Values for Healing Ourselves and the World (2010), Maathai offers these words:

“My life’s work has evolved into much more than planting trees.  By planting trees, my colleagues and I in the Green Belt Movement planted ideas.  Like trees, these ideas grew.  By providing education, access to water, and equity, the Green Belt Movement empowers people-most of them poor and most of them women-to take action, directly improving the lives of individuals and families.
Our experience of more than thirty years has also shown that simple acts can lead to great change and to respect for the environment, good governance, and cultures of peace.  Such change is not limited to Kenya, or Africa.  The challenges facing Africa, particularly the degradation of the environment, are facing the entire world.  Only by working together can we hope to solve some of the problems of this precious planet.  It is my fervent wish that you will seek to learn more about the work of the Green Belt Movement by visiting our website, www.greenbeltmovement.org.  Please share in our message of hope.”

More information on her life and work can be found at the Green Belt Movement’s website where you can read and post testimonials to her.  The following is a thoughtful and uplifting  testimonial written by Dr. Jim Wohlpart:

Wangari Maathai was recognized in 2004 as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is most widely known for her work with the Green Belt Movement, which has planted over 30 million trees since its inception if 1977.

But the Green Belt Movement, like Wangari Maathai herself, has always been about more than planting trees. Maathai was a visionary in that she saw the intimate connection between environmental issues on the one hand and social and economic justice and democracy and nonviolence on the other hand. That is, she held a broad understanding of sustainability, one that integrated such issues as the rights of women, education for girls, access to clean water, equity in politics and…well, planting trees. How many of us could connect all these dots?

As you may know, Maathai had agreed to serve as the international advisor for FGCU’s Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education which suggests that, perhaps, we, too, are doing things right.

For me, Maathai is a kind of shaman, a healer in the most profound sense of the word. By empowering people to take action, she has inspired all of us to move towards a brighter future.

A quote from her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:

"It is 30 years since we started this work. 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 – indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder. This will happen if we see the need to revive our sense of belonging to a larger family of life, with which we have shared our evolutionary process.

In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other.

That time is now.

                                                                             

Professor Corcoran was privileged to be asked to write a prayer for the solemn requiem mass for Professor Wangari Maathai on Friday, October 14, 2011.  His prayer for "Global peace and the Green Belt Movement's work" went as follows:

Lord, help us to achieve Wangari Maathai’s integrated vision of global peace.  She taught us that we cannot have peace without democracy and non-violence; that we cannot have democracy and non-violence without social and economic justice; and that we cannot have social and economic justice without healing the Earth.…She breathed life into the Earth Charter with this profound insight - and she was a joyous, living embodiment of peace, justice, and healing in all her work.

Lord, may we work, as Wangari did, in hope and in faith toward the healing of the Earth.  Arokoma kuuraga.  May she sleep where it rains.  May she rest in peace.  But may we not rest in carrying on the urgent work of her dreams for global peace.

Lord, we know the Green Belt Movement is the mother of many historic children - the release of the political prisoners, the empowerment of women and girls, the protection of forests, the founding of the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. 

Lord, strengthen those here gathered, and the thousands of their sisters and brothers across Kenya, across Africa, and around the world who have done this work.  And, Lord, establish the work of our hands to assist them.  And bless the Green Belt Movement.

Lord hear us.
[Response] Lord graciously hear us.

TEDxFGCU Talks Now Available Online

The Center hosted TEDxFGCU on April 1, 2011, an independently organized event that captured the inspiring words of sustainability scholars Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, and Mary Evelyn Tucker on video. The TEDx talks are now available for viewing on the official TEDx YouTube site.

All three speakers shared their unique perspectives about Africa and provided the audience with alternative stories of action and hope within the continent.  Akpezi Ogbuigwe, from Nigeria, is the head of Environmental Education and Training for the United Nations Environment Programme (currently on leave until 2012). She spoke about the “real” Africa, a continent of unparalleled beauty, wealth and promise. Heila Lotz-Sisitka of Rhodes University in South Africa told her own story as a teacher in segregated schools during Apartheid in South Africa. She articulated her vision of an “education for the future,” and described the work of women who are Africa’s “silent heroes.” Mary Evelyn Tucker of Yale University introduced the Journey of the Universe, a new multi-media collaboration inspired by Thomas Berry's "The New Story." Journey of the Universe weaves together scientific discoveries and humanistic insights to create a new narrative of the evolution of the universe.

To access the TEDxFGCU videos, please visit the following links for the talks given by Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, and Mary Evelyn Tucker. For more information of TEDx visit their website at http://www.ted.com/tedx.  For more information on the Center, please contact Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

 

Where in the World is Peter Blaze Corcoran?!

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran traveled to Santiago, Chile earlier this month for a United Nations Environment Program sponsored High Level Planning, Consultative, Sharing and Learning Meeting for University Leaders.  On September 5-6, 2011, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran worked with colleagues on the Global Universities Partnership on Education and Sustainability (GUPES) Project.  Established on November 19, 2010 at a meeting organized by the United Nations Education Program, the goal of the project is to “promote the integration of environment and sustainability concerns into teaching, research, community engagement and the management of universities, as well as to enhance student engagement and participation in sustainability activities."

At the meeting, Corcoran and his colleagues hoped to share sustainability mainstreaming experiences at universities across the regions, to strengthen interaction between UNEP and the leadership/management of universities, and to deliberate and plan for the formal launch of GUPES, possibly at the Rio+20 Summit next summer.  As part of the meeting’s events, Dr. Corcoran served as a facilitator for a group activity focused on positioning universities in the Rio+20 Summit and exploring the role of universities and potential contribution to the Rio+20 process.

Currently the Center is also working on the creation of a small international network of research centers involved in the scholarship of education for sustainable development. The Center has taken a leadership role in the creation of the network which will serve as a creative and innovative space to strengthen the task of mainstreaming sustainability in higher education institutions. It will work to promote international and intergenerational collaboration, connect innovation hubs on campuses, and serve as a platform for the exchange of ideas. 

While in Chile, Corcoran was also able to spend Labor Day weekend on one of the world's most isolated islands, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), which is a special territory of Chile in the South Pacific.  As an expert  on sustainability in the South Pacific and a Visiting Professor at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Dr. Corcoran has visited many areas in the South Pacific.  Easter Island however, was one of the most important areas in the region that he had yet to visit.  Corcoran stated "Rapa Nui has a mysterious and enigmatic cultural and natural history with many lessons for students of sustainability.  Easter Island was unable to manage its resources; this has many lessons for us on Earth Island."

To view more of Dr. Corcoran's travels, please visit our photo gallery.

 

A Warm Welcome Back!

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education would like to welcome back all faculty, staff, and students from what we hope was a relaxing and enjoyable summer.  With the beginning of the new semester, the Center is back into the swing of things and has welcomed back its entire staff to begin the new school year.  This year the Center will be featuring four new student assistants.  The Center would like to welcome Kate Pozeznik, Kersey Voss, Andrew Stansell, and Sabrina Perri into the fold.

Kate Pozeznik is originally from Michigan but claims Southwest Florida as her home.  She graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Education.  Kate’s passion for the natural world and pedagogy prompted her to continue her education at FGCU by pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Studies with a focus on environmental education.  In addition to her work at the Center, Kate is a campus naturalist and enjoys sharing her love for—and knowledge of—the unique natural environments of Southwest Florida with fellow FGCU students.  She enjoys snorkeling, reading environmental literature, facilitating connections between children and the ocean, traveling, cooking, collecting rocks and shells, and salvaging undesired furniture.  Her favorite marine animal is currently the sea hare. 

Kersey Voss is a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University and a Florida native. Her major is Environmental Studies with a minor in Global Studies and she is planning on working in the conservation field in the future.  Kersey also serves as the secretary of the Dominican Republic Outreach Program and enjoys yoga, reading and traveling. She hopes to teach fellow students more about the environment while working at The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.

Andrew Stansell is going on his third year at FGCU as an Environmental Studies major. He has pursued his passion for the environment since his childhood through outdoor recreational activities near his home in Orlando.  Andrew is currently focusing his attention on the field of environmental education and hopes to one day to run his own nature and environmental education center.

Sabrina Perri is in her third year at Florida Gulf Coast University with a major in Environmental Studies and minors of Sociology and Psychology. After moving to Florida from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania she fell in love with the environment and decided to make southwest Florida home. She also works as an intern at Aquatic Systems Mosquito Education Program where she is a classroom assistant. During her free time Sabrina makes purses from recycled fabrics, writes music, plays guitar and aspires to open a local coffee shop after graduation.

We will be looking to our new student assistants to help us duplicate the success of last year’s term.  Last year we were able to hold a number of successful events including our two signature events, The Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue and Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture.  In addition to our two signature events, we also enjoyed our most successful Fundraiser ever!

This year, we are already working hard in preparation for this year’s Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue entitled, “Ocean Conservation and Sustainability.”  The event will be held on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 7:00 pm in the Student Union Ballroom with a networking session being held at 6:00 pm.  Panelists for this year will be Vikki Spruill, CEO of the Ocean Conservancy and Sheila Bowman, Senior Outreach Manager for Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program.  For a look at past Terry Tempest Student Dialogues please visit our Signature Events Page.

For more information on the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue or the Center, please contact Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

 

Center Finishes Policy Paper on E-waste at FGCU

Continuing the focus of our 2010 Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, the Center has authored a policy paper on  e-waste at FGCU.  Jessica Mendes, former Center Graduate Student Assistant (seen on the left at last year's Dialogue), spearheaded this effort.  Over the past year, Jessica spent countless hours researching and studying the oft-overlooked ecological and social problem of what becomes of our discarded electronics.  Earlier this year, in an attempt to draw attention to the problem, Mendes drafted and passed an e-waste resolution through FGCU’s Student Government which calls for “the Student Body of FGCU to support creating a policy for responsibly handling e-waste at the university and its annexes.” 

The culminating piece of her work on e-waste,  “Electronic Waste At Florida Gulf Coast University: Research To Education To Action,” is a scholarly paper in which she outlines the e-waste problem and offers possible steps for action.  The paper gives specific insight into how we can improve our efforts here at FGCU and clearly demonstrates the need for an expansion of FGCU’s E-waste policy.  At the very least, the paper calls for "the need for FGCU to improve upon their current downstream cycle and use an e-Stewards Certified Recycler to uphold the environmental and sustainability mission of the university.”  The Center considers Jessica’s paper to be a major piece of scholarly work and it will take its place alongside other papers produced by the Center.

Please follow the link provided for a full copy of Electronic Waste At Florida Gulf Coast University: Research To Education To Action.

Center Meets Haffenreffer Challenge for Fourth Consecutive Year!

From left to right, Milena Eskew, Board of Advisors Co-Chair Mary Evelyn Tucker, Mary Bursley Carter, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran, and Grace Jackson at this year's Fundraising Celebration.  The three nonagenarians, Eskew, Carter, and Jackson are all longtime supporters of the Center.

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is delighted to announce that we have met our fundraising challenge set by Sanibel Island philanthropists Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer.  This is the fourth year in a row the Center has surpassed the goal set by our generous hosts, the Haffenreffers.  Much of the Challenge was met with small gifts from the Center's many supporters who attended the Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration on Sanibel Island with this year's gift total being the highest one night total in the seven years of the celebration.  Several generous gifts were also received this year from the family of deceased Advisor, Oannes Arthur Pritzker.  In addition, we received substantial gifts from Earth Charter US and the Thomas Berry Foundation helping to give us our highest gift total ever for the Haffenreffer Challenge.

The Center extends its gratitude to all those who contributed toward the Center’s best overall fundraising season ever!   The Center truly appreciates every contribution and we hope to continue to receive such great support from all our friends, colleagues, and stakeholders.  Your support is vital to the Center's efforts and allows us to continue to “work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for earth through scholarship, education and action.”

For more information on the Center, please contact Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

Where in the World is Peter Blaze Corcoran?!

Last month Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, and London, England.  In Nairobi, Dr. Corcoran met with Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai to discuss strategic planning for the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies.  Corcoran is advising Maathai and her building team on the functional briefs for the use of the building.  The Wangari Maathai Institute campus is “envisioned as a functional and inspiring hub of activities in the natural resource management area and education for sustainable development.”   The green campus is to be built on a 50-acre plot at the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences, Kabete Campus. The new campus is expected to meet stringent carbon foot print criteria and is looking to achieve close to 100% carbon neutrality.  For more information on the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies follow this link.

In London, Corcoran met with the two youngest members of the Center’s Board of Advisors, Jacob Scott and Erik Thijs Wedershoven, who both reside in the UK.  Jacob Scott is a Solicitor Trainee for Burges Salmon LLP in Bristol and Erik Thijs Wedershoven is a student at the London School of Economics.  During their meeting the three discussed plans for an informal international network of centers for environmental and sustainability education.

Center Assistant Named Graduate Student of the Year

Center Student Assistant Jessica Mendes was recently honored with being named the Graduate Student of the Year for the 2010-2011 academic year.  Jessica, who will be graduating this Spring with a Master's in Public Administration, is being honored for her work in the classroom, the community, and here at the Center.  Here at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, Jessica has worked on a wide array of projects including everything from budgeting and management of accounts to office maintenance and training of other student assistants.  She has also been deeply involved in the planning and organizing of our signature student initiated event, the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue for three years.   

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is Florida Gulf Coast University’s hub of research in sustainability. As part of her work with the Center, Jessica has been researching the little explored topic of e-waste, with a special focus on e-waste here at FGCU.  At this past year's Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, entitled, "E-waste and Ethics: Where do Blackberries Decompose?", Mendes presented some of the data she collected as part of a survey she constructed and sent out to students and faculty at FGCU.  Jessica is currently working on a scholarly white paper that will include her research, as well as her findings on e-waste.  Her white paper will be a major piece of scholarship that will take its place alongside other important institutional research works produced by the Center.

We here at the Center are very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Jessica and wish her all the best in the future as she moves on after graduation.  Thanks for all that you have done Jessica and congratulations on this outstanding achievement, you are greatly deserving of the honor.

A Farewell to Staff

From left to right beginning in the first row: Jordan Yingling, Michael Verdi, Ariel Chomey, Jessica Mendes, Kendra Carboneau, Joseph Weakland, Peter Blaze Corcoran, and Polina Silvander

Over the years the Center has been blessed with many outstanding staff members and just as others have moved on in the past, so too do five members of this year's staff. Those staff members moving on include Editorial Associate Joseph Weakland, Student Assistant Jessica Mendes, Student Assistant Ariel Chomey, Editorial Assistant Michael Verdi, and Student Intern Polina Silvander.

Beginning this fall Joseph Weakland will begin pursuing a doctorate in English at the University of Florida. He is interested in the emerging field of "post-humanism," as well as how literature and other cultural texts respond to the social and ecological changes engendered by emerging technologies.

Jessica Mendes will continue working at the Center until the middle of June and then plans on traveling to South America and backpacking her way through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru until August. Jessica would like to wish the incoming and current student assistants great success with their work at the Center!

Ariel Chomey will begin working on her Masters of Science in Environmental Science at FGCU beginning in August. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in the
National Park Service as an Interpretive Ranger.

Michael Verdi plans to serve as a corps member for City Year New York. "City Year corps members serve as tutors, mentors and role models to help students stay on track, and get back on track, to graduate." He will be working in Brooklyn with students in grades Pre-K through 5. After fulfilling his commitment Michael then intends on attending graduate school to pursue a Master's Degree.

Polina Silvander will be returning to Russia to continue her education and working towards a college degree.

The Center would like to also take this time to congratulate the staff members who graduated on May 1, 2011. Those Student Assistant graduating include Jessica Mendes with an MS in Public Administration, Michael Verdi with a BS in Environmental Studies, Ariel Chomey with a BS in Environmental Science, and Jordan Yingling with a BS in Athletic Training. A whole, wide world of opportunities await each of these valued staff members and we wish them all the best of luck in their future endeavors. It has been a pleasure working together and you should all be proud of the work that you have done here at the Center. Good luck to you all!

Peter Blaze Corcoran with President Bradshaw at Spring Commencement May 1, 2011


A Fond Farewell

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education would like to acknowledge the announcement that Dr. Joe Shepard, Vice President for Administrative Services and Finance, has been named President of Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico. Dr. Shepard joined FGCU in 1995, and has served as Vice President for Administrative Services and Finance since 2003. Prior to his appointment as Vice President, he held the positions of Assistant Dean and Dean of Student Affairs. Dr. Shepard is also a founding member of the Center's Board of Advisors and has been a strong advocate of the Center and its mission.

Although we are sad to lose such a great colleague and friend of the Center at FGCU, we would like to congratulate Joe and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. Thank you Vice President Shepard for all your years of service to FGCU and for all your support of the Center. "The long-term success of the Center will be part of your legacy of unparalleled support for the University's mission of environmental sustainability." You will be missed greatly!

 

Where in the World is Peter Blaze Corcoran?!

The National Wildlife Federation recently celebrated its 75th Anniversary at their annual Conservation Achievement Awards Dinner held on April 13, 2011 in Washington, D.C. As a member of the NWF's Leadership Committee, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran not only attended the 75th Anniversary Gala, but also helped to organize the event. The Gala was in recognition of the NWF and its 75 years as the nation’s leading advocate for wildlife and wild places. The event was also “intended to acknowledge individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting wildlife through education, advocacy and on-the-ground conservation.”

Legendary conservationist and political cartoonist J.N. “Ding” Darling founded the organization in 1936 by convincing President Roosevelt to call the first North American Wildlife Conference. The National Wildlife Federation emerged from this conference with Darling as its first president.  Many from the area may recognize Darling's name from the National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel named after him.  Darling was instrumental in the effort to block the sale of a parcel of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island. At Darling's urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945.  The refuge was renamed in 1967 in honor of the pioneer conservationist. 

In addition to his role as part of the Leadership Committee, Corcoran also participated in meetings of the NWF's President's Advisory Council.  Corcoran has served on the President's Advisory Council for over a decade and is also a  founding member. While in Washington the Center Director also met with senators and staffers regarding the Obama administration’s controversial decision to negotiate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority as part of the recent budget deal. 

“NWF is the largest conservation organization in the world. It deserves our support for many reasons, including its powerful leadership of the response to the British Petroleum oil spill disaster a year ago. In the spirit of Ding Darling, NWF is committed to providing a diverse wildlife heritage for generations to come,” Corcoran reflected.

The 75th anniversary was combined with an annual NWF event informally known as the “Connie Awards,” which has been honoring conservation heroes dating back to 1966. Robert Redford and Senator Richard Lugar (Republican, Indiana) were among the conservationists who were honored at the celebratory event.

The Center has Lost a Friend

It is with regret that we report the passing of a great friend of the Center, Carla Brooks Johnston who passed away at the age of 71 on Thursday, April 29, 2011, at her home following a battle against cancer. As the former mayor of Sanibel, Johnston was a passionate environmental advocate and leader, as well as a longtime supporter of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., Johnston was orphaned at a young age and had the responsibility of raising herself thrust upon her at the age of 13.  Despite her unfortunate circumstances she went on to graduate from The College of Wooster in Ohio, receive her Master's degree from the Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts, and complete three fellowships at Harvard University.  In her lifetime, Johnston authored eight books as well as many encyclopedias and articles.  Many may also know Johnston for her memoirs, "Raising Myself," in which she reflects on her life experiences growing up during the 1950's.

Johnston moved to Sanibel over ten years ago and quickly became a prominent figure on the island.  Johnston served two terms as mayor of Sanibel after and later served as the chair of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization.  The lasting image of Johnston however will be one of a staunch advocate of protecting the waters of Southwest Florida and helping to preserve the environmental interests of the barrier island.

Our sincerest condolences are sent out to the surviving members of Johnston's family.  She is survived by a son, Eric, of Seattle, Wash., and a daughter, Elise, of Albuquerque, N.M., along with two grandchildren and one step-grandchild.

African Women Scholars Captivate Sanibel Audience

The Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture was a successful evening for the Center. The lecture took place at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Friday, April 1, 2011. Guest scholars Akpezi Ogbuigwe of Nigeria and Heila Lotz-Sisitka of South Africa offered an alternative perspective for Africa.

Akpezi Ogbuigwe, the global head of Environmental Education and Training for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), explained how Africa is transitioning toward an improved future that breaks away from its stigma as “the dark continent.”  “It is time for the people of Africa to dance to a new tune,” said Ogbuigwe. “It is people that create change for nations and continents, not diamonds, gold, or oil… Africa is an opportunity, and now is the time; this is the generation.”

Heila Lotz-Sisitka, the Murray & Roberts Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainability at Rhodes University in South Africa, shared stories with the audience of the “silent heroes” in Africa.   She explained that these silent heroes are “fundamentally changing the nature and form of education.” She described how these individuals are involved in “vida activa” or “the active life,” and though they make such a great impact, they often remain unnoticed and their practices are not fully understood.  “The problems (for Africa) are complex, the inequalities are stark, and the transformation path is enormous,” said Sisitka. “But it is through the dedicated work of Africa’s silent heroes that there remains hope for its future."

In addition to hosting the guest scholars from Africa, the Center paid tribute to a dear friend who passed away last year by presenting his family with the highest honor given by the Center. Richard Pritzker accepted the Rachel Carson Award for his brother, Oannes Arthur Pritzker. Collette Hopkins, a close friend of Oannes and a member of the Center’s board of advisors, presented the award, which was in the form of a conch shell.

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran also spoke of the loss of two other Native American advisors to the Center since last year’s Lecture: Chief Jake Swamp of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation and Deanna Francis, spiritual leader of the Passamaquoddy Nation. “Their passing to the spirit world is a great loss,” said Corcoran. “These chiefs and elders possessed irreplaceable indigenous knowledge, wisdom, and passion for an ethic of sustainability.”

The Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture is a signature event of the Center that works to bring public intellectuals to Southwest Florida to discuss issues such as sustainability, ethics, democracy, and literature.  For a look at past lectures, you may access a copy our latest publication, "This Sense of Awe and Wonder" by following this link.  The booklet is a compilation of lectures from 2004-2010 taken from our Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Series.  For more information, please contact Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

 

Get Your Copy of "This Sense of Awe and Wonder"

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at FGCU is offering its new publication, "This Sense of Awe and Wonder," to those interested in learning more about the Center and our Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Series.  The booklet is a compilation of past lectures held by the Center from 2004-2010. Rachel Carson, the celebrated nature writer for whom the series is named, once asked, “What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence? Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper?” 

Carson did indeed believe there was something much deeper, and with this publication, we look not only to honor the legacy of Carson, but also to honor the commitment to service of the lecturers themselves.  Each year the lecturers give their time free of charge to deliver insightful, original lectures to an FGCU and Southwest Florida audience, and for that we at the Center are very thankful. Past lecturers, many of whom are on the Center’s Board of Advisors, include Mary Evelyn Tucker, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Terry Tempest Williams, David W. Orr, Barbara Kingsolver, Homero Aridjis, and Steven C. Rockefeller.

This publication is also meant to honor the late Oannes Arthur Pritzker, to whom this collection is dedicated.  Oannes was a long-time friend of the Center, a member of our Board of Advisors, and a mentor to Center staff and student assistants.  Among his many contributions to the Center was his suggestion that we establish a distinguished lecture series, which eventually became our signature event, the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. 

For the full version of “This Sense of Awe and Wonder,” please follow this link.  For access to the companion volume, “Works Toward Realizing the Dream: Five Years of Scholarship, Education, and Action at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education,” click here.  You may also request a copy of "This Sense of Awe and Wonder" by contacting The Center by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

Do Your Part, Recylce Smart!

Do you have old electronics lying around at home taking up space? Do you wish you could just get rid of them in a socially and environmentally responble way? If this sounds like you, then you are in luck. In collaboration with Creative Recycling (CRS) and FGCU Campus Housing, the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is hosting an E-waste Collection Event running from April 19 - May 5. By bringing your old electronic waste to be recycled at one of our locations on campus, you will be making the responsible choice by ensuring your e-waste does not enter a landfill or contribute to the degredation of our environment. For information on when, where, and what you can recylce see the information below:

Where: South Village: Biscayne Hall from 8:00 am to 2:00 am AND North Lake
Village Commons: Eagles' Landing from 8:00 am to 12:00 am

Recycle your unwanted, broken or obsolete electronic equipment, including: Computers, Cell Phones, Televisions, Laptops, Microwaves, Monitors, Printers, Telephones, Servers, PDP's, and Cameras.

For your protection, all personal data will be removed and deleted before it is recylced. We are proud to be working with CRS, who is currently working towards becoming an official e-Steward. For more information on the e-Steward program please follow this link. For more information on the event or E-waste Recycling please call Jessica Mendes at (239) 405-3022.

Haffenreffers Issue Fundraising Challenge!

Spirits and passions were high amongst the guests of the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education's Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration on Saturday, April 2, 2011. The music of professional harpist Leslie Gregory resonated throughout the Haffenreffer's Sanibel home as guests enjoyed the African-themed décor, wine from South Africa, and locally grown food. Aside from being gracious hosts, the Haffenreffers energized donor participation by issuing the "Haffenreffer Challenge," a pledge to match any donation offered to the Center, up to a total of ten thousand dollars.

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran stood before supporters and described how the enchanting event was "more than just a party." "This evening is a celebration of community and of shared values for a sustainable future," said Corcoran. "It also embodies the Center's commitment to intergenerational collaboration."

Corcoran then introduced Akpezi Ogbuigwe, the global head of Environmental Education and Training for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She spoke passionately of how we need to fall in love with our world "because when people fall in love, a whole generation is transformed." She then welcomed guests to "fall in love and share in the vision of the Center."

David W. Orr of Oberlin College and Mary Evelyn Tucker of Yale University, both co-chairs of the Centers Board of Advisors, spoke next. Orr engaged the audience by describing the deep relationship between humans and the natural world as the aim of environmental education. Tucker then spoke about the disasters in Japan, drawing attention to the critical importance of concepts promoted by the Center. Tucker then announced the Haffenreffer Challenge. The Haffenreffers will generously match donations to the Center up to a total of ten thousand dollars.

As guests departed for the evening they were given a copy of The Center's newest publication, "This Sense of Awe and Wonder," a compliation of lectures from 2004-2010 taken from our Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Series. The booklet was meant as a small token of the Center's gratitude for the continued support of its efforts and all of its initiatives, both local and worldwide. Without the help of all our supporters we would not be able to do all that we do in the local community and throughtout the entire world. It is through your donations that the Center is able to continue to "work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action."

The Center would like to extend its gratitude to all those who made donations, as well as all those who helped make the Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration a success. For those who were unable to attend the event, but would still like to make a contribution to help us meet the Haffenreffer Challenge, you may send a check to:

Peter Blaze Corcoran
10501 FGCU Boulevard South
Fort Myers, Florida 33965
Make checks payable to CESE/FGCU

 

Come Join Us for the Annual Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend!
"The Africa You Don't Know: A Women's Perspective"
March 29 - April 2, 2011

Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture
Friday, April 1, 2011, 7:30 pm
Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island, Florida
Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration
Saturday, April 2, 2011, 5:00-8:00 pm
Sanibel Island, Florida

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education has planned and prepared and now the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend and Annual Fundraising Celebration on Sanibel Island are finally here. The Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture "Weekend" runs from March 29 to April 2, 2011. The lecture is a signature event of the Center and brings public intellectuals to Southwest Florida to discuss issues such as sustainability, ethics, democracy, and literature.

This year's lecture, entitled "The Africa You Don't Know: A Women's Perspective," is being held at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island, Friday, April 1, 2011, at 7:30 pm. All are welcome; the lecture is free and open to the public. The keynote speakers for the event will be Akpezi Ogbuigwe of Nigeria, global head of Environmental Education and Training, United Nations Environment Programme, and Heila Lotz-Sisitka of South Africa, Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainability, Rhodes University. For more information on "The Africa You Don't Know: A Women's Perspective" please click here to visit the educational materials page we have prepared.

The Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration will be held on Sanibel Island, Saturday, April 2, 2011, from 5:00-8:00pm at the beachfront home of Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer. This is the major fundraising event for the Center and helps to further its sustainability initiatives locally and globally. At the party guests can enjoy hors d'oeuvres prepared from locally grown produce, as well as a breathtaking view from the beach.

Brief remarks will be given at the party by Center Board of Advisor Co-Chairs, Mary Evelyn Tucker and David Orr, seen together in the photo on the left from a previous Celebration. Also giving remarks will be Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecturer Akpezi Ogbuigwe and Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran. Availabe at the party will be copies of the Center's new publication, "This Sense of Awe and Wonder," which is a compilation of all the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lectures from 2004-2010. A copy of "This Sense of Awe and Wonder" may be accessed by following this link.

For those attending the party a contribution of $50 per person is suggested. If you are unable to attend the event, but would still like to make a contribution you may send a check made payable to the following:

CESE/FGCU, Peter Blaze Corcoran, Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education 10501 FGCU Boulevard South Fort Myers, Florida 33965-6565

For more information or to request an invitation please contact the Center by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

 

Schedule of Events for the Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Weekend

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Event: Faculty and Staff Associates Gathering
Time: 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Place: Student Union 214

This event is open to all staff and faculty. We invite you to come meet with Dr. Akpezi Ogbuigwe of the United Nations Environment Programme in Kenya and Dr. Heila Lotz-Sisitka of Rhodes University in South Africa.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Event: Presentation for the students of Dunbar High School

Title: The Africa You Don't Know, A Women's Perspective
Who: Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Director of Environmental Education & Training, United Nations, Nairobi
Time: 12:20 - 1:45 pm
Place: Dunbar High School
3800 East Edison Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33916

This event is designed for participants from Dunbar High School. If you are a member of the public and would like to attend, please contact the Center by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at (239) 590-7166.

Event: Presentation for public and private school teachers, students, and community members
Time: 5:00 - 6:30 pm
Place: Edison Park Creative and Expressive Arts School
2401 Euclid Avenue, Fort Myers, FL 33901

This event is free and open to the public.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Event: Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture, "The Africa You Don't Know"
Time: 7:30 pm
Place: Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Sanibel Island, Florida

This event is free and open to the public. Guests are invited to stay after the Lecture for a reception and booksigning with snacks and refreshments provided by our friends at St. Michaels and All Angels Church.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Event: Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration
Time: 5:00 - 8:00 pm
Place: Haffenreffer Residence on Sanibel Island, Florida

For more information or to request an invitation please contact the Center by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at (239) 590-7166. If you are unable to attend the fundraiser, but would still like to make a contribution please refer to the story above for more information.

FGCU to Hold TEDx Talks

On Friday, April 1, 2011 Florida Gulf Coast University will be holding TEDx Talks at the WGCU studio on campus. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The event is officially called TEDxFGCU, where the x stands for an independently organized TED event. At the TEDxFGCU event, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including the one here at FGCU, are self-organized.

For more information on TEDxFGCU please visit the official website at this link.

 

Center Prepares Educational Materials on "The Africa You Don't Know: A Women's Perspective"

To provide a better understanding of this year's theme, "The Africa You Don't Know: A Women's Perspective" the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education has prepared a page of educational materials. This includes a concept paper on the event, an annotated bibliography, and selected multimedia files on Africa and environmental and sustainability education. You can also find extended biographies on this years keynote speakers, Akpezi Ogbuigwe and Heila Lotz-Sisitka.

To access this information please click on the following link.

 

 

 

Guest Speakers to Arrive from Africa!

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education at Florida Gulf Coast University proudly anticipates hosting Akpezi Ogbuigwe (seen below) and Heila Lotz-Sisitka (seen on the left) as guest speakers for the 2011 Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture. Both women will be visiting the Center during the week of March 28, 2011. The main purpose for their trip is to participate in the lecture, however they will also be meeting with students and teachers throughout the week at both FGCU and Dunbar High School in Fort Myers.

Heila Lotz-Sisitka is the Murray & Roberts Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainability at Rhodes University in South Africa. She has contributed actively to the inclusion of environment and human rights concerns in South Africa's National Curriculum Statement, and the Southern African Development Corporation Regional Environmental Education Programme. She is editor of the Southern African Journal of Environmental Education. She also served as the Scientific Chair of the World Environmental Education Congress in 2007. She will be sharing her expertise on teaching environmental education in South Africa and providing her perspective on the future of African environmental initiatives.

Akpezi Ogbuigwe is the global head of Environmental Education and Training for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). She has vast experience in the field of environmental education, research, and training. Prior to joining UNEP, she was a Professor of Law at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology in Nigeria and volunteered her time at the Centre for Environment and Development in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. She worked with schools, communities, government, and the private sector on issues of environment and development and the running of an environmental library.

"In this presentation we will be bringing an alternative narrative from the heart and soul of Africa," Ogbuigwe said about the lecture. "We will burrow into its history and bring forth the real Africa through long forgotten sustainability stories of unsung women and children from the heart of Africa."

For more information on the lecture, please contact the Center by email at cese@fgcu.edu or by phone at 239-590-7166.

 

Where in the World is Peter Blaze Corcoran?!

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran recently returned from a trip to the nation of Malaysia in the Southeast Asia.  On his trip, Corcoran’s first visited the capital city of Malaysia, Putrajaya.  While there Corcoran met with the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MiGHT)- a policy “think-tank.”  Corcoran gave a critical analysis of Malaysia’s New Economic Model based on Earth Charter ethics.

Following his visit to Putrajaya, Corcoran traveled to the island of Borneo which Malaysia shares with the nations of Brunei and Indonesia. Corcoran gave a talk at the Islamic Information Center (IIC) in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.  Corcoran’s speech entitled “Faith and the Earth Charter” reached an audience of people from many faiths and many different ethnic groups.  The IIC hosted the talk as part of it’s core activities to "carry out programmes and activities to promote a better understanding of Islamic ideas, its principles and values that transcend all cultures."  A story on Corcoran's speech was run by the Borneo Post and can be found at this link.

While on his trip, Corcoran also worked at the Universiti Sans Malaysia (USM) where last year he was invited to become a Visiting Professor associated with the Centre for Global Sustainability Studies.  At USM, Corcoran gave The University Lecture entitled “The Earth Charter and Higher Education” to a public audience.  Corcoran is doing an analysis of how the University might use the Earth Charter to deepen its already substantial sustainability iniatives.  More pictures of Dr. Corcoran's University Lecture may be found on the Centre for Global Sustainability Studies' website which can be found by following this link.

 

 

Center Publishes Earth Charter Affiliate Report

On February 20, 2009, FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw signed an official Affiliation Agreement with Earth Charter International in hopes that it might deepen the University's commitment to sustainability.

Center Editorial Associate Joe Weakland recently completed an Earth Charter Affiliate report that documents the activity of the Center from the day FGCU became an official affiliate of the Earth Charter up until December 31, 2010.  The Center shared this report with Earth Charter International. It will be updated annually as the Center continues to collaborate with administrators, faculty, staff, and students to explore how the Earth Charter can add additional meaning to FGCU's work in environmental sustainability.

For a copy of the report please follow this link.

Center Assistant Named Graduate Student of the Year

Center Student Assistant Jessica Mendes was recently honored with being named the Graduate Student of the Year for the 2010-2011 academic year.  Jessica, who will be graduating this Spring with a Master's in Public Administration, is being honored for her work in the classroom, the community, and here at the Center.  Here at the Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education, Jessica has worked on a wide array of projects including everything from budgeting and management of accounts to office maintenance and training of other student assistants.  She has also been deeply involved in the planning and organizing of our signature student initiated event, the Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue for three years.   

The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is Florida Gulf Coast University’s hub of research in sustainability. As part of her work with the Center, Jessica has been researching the little explored topic of e-waste, with a special focus on e-waste here at FGCU.  At this past year's Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue, entitled, "E-waste and Ethics: Where do Blackberries Decompose?", Mendes presented some of the data she collected as part of a survey she constructed and sent out to students and faculty at FGCU.  Jessica is currently working on a scholarly white paper that will include her research, as well as her findings on e-waste.  Her white paper will be a major piece of scholarship that will take its place alongside other important institutional research works produced by the Center.

We here at the Center are very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Jessica and wish her all the best in the future as she moves on after graduation.  Thanks for all that you have done Jessica and congratulations on this outstanding achievement, you are greatly deserving of the honor.

A Farewell to Staff

From left to right beginning in the first row: Jordan Yingling, Michael Verdi, Ariel Chomey, Jessica Mendes, Kendra Carboneau, Joseph Weakland, Peter Blaze Corcoran, and Polina Silvander

Over the years the Center has been blessed with many outstanding staff members and just as others have moved on in the past, so too do five members of this year's staff. Those staff members moving on include Editorial Associate Joseph Weakland, Student Assistant Jessica Mendes, Student Assistant Ariel Chomey, Editorial Assistant Michael Verdi, and Student Intern Polina Silvander.

Beginning this fall Joseph Weakland will begin pursuing a doctorate in English at the University of Florida. He is interested in the emerging field of "post-humanism," as well as how literature and other cultural texts respond to the social and ecological changes engendered by emerging technologies.

Jessica Mendes will continue working at the Center until the middle of June and then plans on traveling to South America and backpacking her way through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru until August. Jessica would like to wish the incoming and current student assistants great success with their work at the Center!

Ariel Chomey will begin working on her Masters of Science in Environmental Science at FGCU beginning in August. In the future she hopes to pursue a career in the
National Park Service as an Interpretive Ranger.

Michael Verdi plans to serve as a corps member for City Year New York. "City Year corps members serve as tutors, mentors and role models to help students stay on track, and get back on track, to graduate." He will be working in Brooklyn with students in grades Pre-K through 5. After fulfilling his commitment Michael then intends on attending graduate school to pursue a Master's Degree.

Polina Silvander will be returning to Russia to continue her education and working towards a college degree.

The Center would like to also take this time to congratulate the staff members who graduated on May 1, 2011. Those Student Assistant graduating include Jessica Mendes with an MS in Public Administration, Michael Verdi with a BS in Environmental Studies, Ariel Chomey with a BS in Environmental Science, and Jordan Yingling with a BS in Athletic Training. A whole, wide world of opportunities await each of these valued staff members and we wish them all the best of luck in their future endeavors. It has been a pleasure working together and you should all be proud of the work that you have done here at the Center. Good luck to you all!

Peter Blaze Corcoran with President Bradshaw at Spring Commencement May 1, 2011