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Lehigh will join 1,000 schools in global warming teach-in

The trees on South Mountain are bare and temperatures are hovering in the teens, but Lehigh’s campus will definitely be “green” the final week of January as students and faculty heat up the issue of global climate change by participating in a national environmental program.

“Focus the Nation” is an educational initiative on global warming solutions for America that will culminate in a national teach-in taking place simultaneously at over a thousand colleges, universities, K-12 schools and other institutions across the country.

The initiative grabbed the attention of the Environmental Coalition (ECo), a student organization which serves as a focal point for collaboration between Lehigh student groups that are involved in environmentally related efforts on campus. The coalition, which is spearheading Lehigh’s participation, saw the event as a perfect opportunity to increase the community’s awareness of global climate change.

“We want students to learn why it’s so important to adopt environmental programs,” said Laura Deutsch ’09, a double major in environmental studies and earth and environmental science and a member of ECo. “We want the environment to have its place on campus.”

Dork Sahagian, director of the Environmental Initiative, applauds students for taking an active role in the event. To further encourage what Sahagian refers to as “environment across the curriculum,” he has asked faculty members to participate in the national teach-in by devoting the first five to 10 minutes of each class on January 31 to constructive dialogue that connects the course to the environment. Classes taking place on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can incorporate the topic into discussion on January 30.

“This day is an excellent opportunity to explore each course and their connection to the environment,” says Sahagian. “As more and more people become aware of environmental issues, and more of our students are given the intellectual tools to address these issues, we increase our chances of solving some major global environmental problems during our lifetimes.”

The teach-in is only one component of the “Focus the Nation” efforts. ECo has planned numerous activities designed to highlight campus, local and global climate issues. A national, live web cast of The 2% Solution will debut at 8 p.m. on January 30 in Sinclair Auditorium. The web cast features Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider, sustainability expert Hunter Lovins, green jobs pioneer Van Jones, and actor and clean energy advocate Edward Norton. A Q&A session with Sahagian will follow.

A panel discussion on January 31 at 4:10 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium will also bring together members of the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities who will help open the dialogue for sustainable growth and development for 2008 and beyond. Participants so far include Chad Briggs, assistant professor of International Relations and a faculty member in the Environmental Initiative; Gregory Skutches, coordinator of Writing Across the Curriculum; and Kim Schaffer, owner of Clothesline Organics in Bethlehem.

"It's important for educational institutions to work on issues pertaining to the environment to promote human health and well being, and help sustain earth's resources so people can create and enjoy a good quality of life for themselves and their children," said Al Bodzin, associate professor of teaching, learning and technology in the College of Education and faculty member in the Environmental Initiative.

Both the Environmental Initiative and ECo hope to continue to build enthusiasm for sustainability at Lehigh, and are looking to study recycling and create resources for faculty members interested in incorporating environmental issues into the classroom.

“Historically, people have viewed the study of the environment as an academic discipline, but it directly affects everything you do or know,” says Sahagian. “When all of the disciplines relate how they impact or are impacted by the environment, only then will we be able to address these problems we’re facing.”

Schedule of Events

Monday, January 28
• Voter registration drive with the Student Activities Office at Lamberton between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Tuesday, January 29
• Environmental Coalition distributing information on environmental issues and solutions in the Lower UC from Noon to 1 p.m.

Wednesday, January 30
• Alternate day for “Focus the Nation” national teach-in

• Screening of The 2% Solution webcast at 8 p.m. in Sinclair Auditorium, followed by Q&A with Dork Sahagian

Thursday, January 31
• “Focus the Nation” national teach-in

• Sustainable growth and development panel discussion at 4:10 p.m. at Sinclair Auditorium

--Tricia Long

Posted on Friday, January 25, 2008

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