Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability


Colloquium Archive

"How Climate Change Became Controversial: An Analysis of the Climate Change Denial Counter-Movement", by Dr. Riley Dunlap, Regents Professor and Laurence L. and Georgia Ina Dresser Professor, Oklahoma State University, Department of Sociology, Friday, April 17, 2015, 4:00 p.m., Sarkey's Energy Center, N202.  Coffee and snacks will be provided.

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Global warming had become widely recognized as a problem by the early 1990s, but a long-term and ever-evolving campaign to deny its reality and significance has turned contemporary climate change into a major controversy.  The basic findings of climate science are constantly challenged by a growing set of interconnected actors who portray climate change as uncertain, even a hoax, leading significant segments of the public and numerous policymakers to dismiss its importance—and thus the need to take action to reduce carbon emissions. Key actors in what has been termed the “denial countermovement,” the economic and ideological interests motivating them, and the primary strategies and tactics they employ will be outlined, with emphasis on how they have all evolved over the past quarter century. Finally, a brief assessment of the wide-ranging impacts of climate change denial, including the obstruction of USA and international policy-making, will be given.


DGES Colloquium "DUMPSTER: The Ultimate Conversation Box" by Dr. Jeff Wilson, Dean of the University College & Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, TX, Friday, February 27, 2015, 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, N202 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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In the academy, our currency is and our professional evaluation metrics revolve around papers, teaching and service. While these are the foundations on which we stand, we often struggle to reach a broader audience that can join in on the conversation. Dr. Jeff Wilson, Dean of the University College and Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at Huston-Tillotson University, a Historically Black University in Austin, Texas, will speak on his social and educational experiment of living in a trash dumpster on campus for a year with the goal of creating the tiniest, most sustainable house on the planet. Of particular note, he will discuss the way this experiment evoked conversations around sustainability and living on less between and within groups, including the Black and Hispanic communities, K-16 students, and both conservatives and progressives alike.  Dr. Wilson holds a PhD in Environmental Science from the University of Canterbury and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He has authored dozens of papers in the environmental health field and is recipient of the largest teaching award in the United States, The University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching award.


"Geography and the Environment through Kitchenspace: Cultural Ecology in the House-lot Garden in Central Mexico" by Dr. Maria Elisa Christie, Office of International Research, Education & Development (OIRED), Virginia Tech, Friday, February 20, 2015, 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, N202 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Using a feminist political ecology approach to gendered space, this presentation considers nature/society relations from the perspective of food preparation in everyday life and fi estas in central Mexico. “Kitchenspace” is a privileged site of cultural and social reproduction where knowledge --primarily in women’s hands--is passed down through generations, often in the house-lot garden. In Xochimilco and other traditional communities in central Mexico, women negotiate an ever-changing relationship with natural resources in this space. At the same time, they use their ingenuity to prepare “traditional foods” in the midst of changing cultural identities working alongside men --each within culturally prescribed gender roles--to celebrate religious fiestas resulting from a historic blend of Catholicism and indigenous beliefs.  Meals themselves as well as ingredients and food preparation techniques must adapt to urbanization and at the same time the infl ux of rural, indigenous populations from other parts of Mexico.


"'Tree Rebels': Seventy Years of Opposition to Tree-Planting in East Baltimore", by Dr. Geoffrey L. Buckley, Department of Geography, Ohio University, Friday, February 13, 2015, 4:00 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, N202.

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In 1912, Baltimore Mayor James H. Preston approved passage of Ordinance No. 154, creating the position of “city forester” and formally introducing professional forest management to Maryland’s largest city. Though not the first municipality in the United States to exert control over street tree planting, Baltimore could now be added to the growing list of major American cities to venture down this road.  Unfortunately, Baltimore’s aspiration to become known as the “city of a million trees” has never been fully realized. Nor has its goal of achieving a more equitable distribution of trees. While a 2006 initiative to “double the city’s tree canopy in the next thirty years” has produced some positive results, many parts of the city still lack trees. In this paper I use an environmental justice frame to explore the historical roots of roadside tree planting and urban forestry in Baltimore. I then focus attention on two neighborhoods in East Baltimore – Berea and Madison-Eastend – to determine if they are suitable locations for aggressive tree planting and greening efforts. The selection of East Baltimore as a study area is significant because it was here that the city’s Division of Forestry first encountered resistance to tree planting starting in the 1940s. Comparisons are drawn with neighborhoods in Washington, DC, where similar research has been conducted.


"The Causal Effect of Environmental Catastrophe on Long-Run Economic Growth: Evidence From 6,700 Cyclones", by Dr. Solomon Hsiang, Associate Professor in Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, Friday, January 30, 2015, 4:00 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, N202.

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Does the environment have a causal effect on economic development? Using meteorological data, we reconstruct every country’s exposure to the universe of tropical cyclones during 1950-2008. We exploit random within-country year-to-year variation in cyclone strikes to identify the causal effect of environmental disasters on long-run growth. We compare each country’s growth rate to itself in the years immediately before and after exposure, accounting for the distribution of cyclones in preceding years. The data reject hypotheses that disasters stimulate growth or that short-run losses disappear following migrations or transfers of wealth. Instead, we find robust evidence that national incomes decline, relative to their pre-disaster trend, and do not recover within twenty years. Both rich and poor countries exhibit this response, with losses magnified in countries with less historical cyclone experience.  Income losses arise from a small but persistent suppression of annual growth rates spread across the fifteen years following disaster, generating large and significant cumulative effects: a 90th percentile event reduces per capita incomes by 7.4% two decades later, effectively undoing 3.7 years of average development. The gradual nature of these losses render them inconspicuous to a casual observer, however simulations indicate that they have dramatic influence over the long-run development of countries that are endowed with regular or continuous exposure to disaster.  Linking these results to projections of future cyclone activity, we estimate that under conservative discounting assumptions the present discounted cost of “business as usual” climate change is roughly $9.7 trillion larger than previously thought.


"Solving Environmental Problems by Changing Attitudes: A Critical Analysis", by Professor Emeritus, Thomas A. Heberlein, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Friday, November 14, 2014 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Proposals to solve environmental problems by changing attitudes and educating the public are intuitive and appealing. However, research and theory show attitudes are difficult to change and often have little to do with behavior, which is why these approaches usually fail. Drawing from my recent book, Navigating Environmental Attitudes, I will explain why. Getting caught in this “Cognitive Fix Keeper Hole,” keeps us from designing successful programs using social structural drivers of pro-environmental behavior. Attitudes are important, but we must understand how attitudes actually work and design with them rather than relying on the false hope of “educating the public."


"Out of the Frying Pan and  into the Fire: Climate Change and Adaptation in the Southwest", presented by Dr. Gregg Garfin, Deputy Director for Science Translation & Outreach, Institute of the Environment and co-investigator on the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) project, University of Arizona, Friday, November 21, 2014 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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What do 56 million people, including 182 federally recognized tribes, almost 700,000 square miles of land surface and most of the wildlife and vegetation therein, a thriving agricultural region that includes the fruit and vegetable cornucopia of the West, and a diverse economy that accounts for 20% of the nation’s GDP have in common? They’re out of luck, unless society in the Southwest United States establishes robust plans to adapt to a hotter, drier, and more extreme climate. In this presentation we will take a tour through selected climate adaptation experiments in the Southwest. We will examine the practice of scenario planning in these efforts, and discuss challenges in communicating about climate variability, change, and uncertainty.


"Community Energy Planning, Teaching, Research and Linking Theory to Practice", by Asst. Professor and PowerStream Chair in Sustainable Energy Economics, Christina Hoicka, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University,  Friday, October 31, 2014 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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In response to climate change, environmental and technical pressures, the Province of Ontario has adopted policies affecting both energy and land-use. Most recently, Ontario has adopted feed-in-tariff policies, and municipalities are required to produce community energy plans. As a consequence of many of these policies, Ontario’s energy sector is undergoing an energy transition even as population and density are increasing. Students are training to work within this transitioning environment, and scholars are studying it for lessons in energy and sustainability. In my presentation, I will discuss the how communities in Ontario are engaging in an energy transition. I will approach this topic in three ways. The first is in a discussion of developing the curriculum for a graduate level community energy planning class, the first of it’s kind in Ontario. Second, with a discussion of my current and proposed research about relationships between people (whether citizens, consumers or policy makers) and energy systems (made up of infrastructure and institutions and related policies and programs). Third, I will explore some approaches to link theory and practice in community energy planning.


“Municipal Sustainability in Oklahoma City” by Madeleine Wiens and Joseph Sardashti, City of Oklahoma City Office of Sustainability, Friday, October 17, 2014 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Local city and county governments in nearly all 50 US states dedicate departments and/or staff to fostering a healthier environment, economic prosperity, and social equity. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network, a professional peer-to-peer network of local government staff, has over 130 core members. Oklahoma City’s Office of Sustainability was created by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act in 2009. The Sustainability Office has four full-time staff and is charged with integrating sustainability principles into decision-making across City departments. This presentation will outline the office’s activities and its role in the City’s outreach and education efforts, energy management initiative, grant writing and administration, and policy development.  Additionally, faculty and students will receive a handout with resources that will help them engage with City of Oklahoma City programs and sustainability-related community projects and volunteer opportunities throughout central Oklahoma.


"Planning Together: An Action Research Approach for Local Adaptation Planning for Climate Change" by Dr. Dawn Jourdan, Regional & City Planning, The University of Oklahoma, Friday, September 26, 2014 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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In 2011, the Guano Tolomato Matanzas Research Reserve, in partnership with the University of Florida, applied for and was awarded a grant by NOAA to study the impact of sea level rise on the reserve and the surrounding communities. A leader in public outreach, the research partners solicited participation by a local steering committee to guide the development of this project. Over the course of three years, these partners worked together, utilizing a social action research framework, to understand the science and politics of sea level rise on a local scale. The partners shared in the development of a series of public workshops to: “test the temperature” of locals related to this topic; to impact downscaled science in a manner comprehensible by the local population; and to gather public input about local values and preferences for adaptation strategies. While the first two workshops were led by UF researchers, the final presentation was delivered by the steering committee and GTM personnel. In this way, a true transfer of knowledge and project ownership resulted. This
presentation chronicles the use of social action research methodologies as a tool for research and community engagement, offering a framework for the local study of adaptation to climate change.


"Indigenous Peoples, Climate Change and the Problem of Disorientation" by Dr. Kyle Powys Whyte, Michigan State University, Dept. of Philosophy, Friday, April 18, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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The continuance of Indigenous peoples’ cultures is vulnerable to current and ongoing climate change impacts, from warming stream temperatures to sea level rise. One key vulnerability concerns the undermining of current structures of certain governance institutions, such as treaty areas or reservation areas, which Indigenous peoples use for the purpose of the environmental protections needed for the continuance of their cultures. I call this undermining the “problem of disorientation.” Policy and science literatures currently offer solutions for what I call disorientation that seek to engender
governance institutions that are flexible to shifting environmental conditions and that connect a more diverse set of partners. Yet, thinking critically about these literatures, it is unclear whether increased flexibility and diversity are promises or perils for Indigenous adaptation to climate change. I present a set of arguments for why we should be more cautious in our advocacy of certain governance solutions because they may present threats to Indigenous self-determination in the future that are not being discussed openly enough.


"Why Not Prunes? Napa, Wine, and the Environment" by Dr. Kathleen A. Brosnan, OU Department of History, Friday, September 19, 2014 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235 with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Perhaps no place name in America suggests “wine” as much as Napa Valley. Over time, this relatively small valley north of San Francisco emerged as the premier wine region in the United States, but its elite status in the viticultural world was not
preordained. At one time, the Napa Valley was as well known for its production of prunes and other tender fruits. Prohibition and environmental crises such as phylloxera infestations had undermined wine production. Napa’s subsequent rise as a wine-producing region depended on a unique combination of environmental advantages, skillful marketing, assiduously pursed government interventions, and shifting consumer tastes. And that same success now teeters on the brink of global climate change, as warming temperatures threaten to alter favorable growing conditions.


"Rethinking South Africa's HIV/AIDS Epidemic through Gogo Mtembu's Case of Tuberculosis" by Dr. Abby Neely, U. of Minnesota, Dept. of Geography, Environment, and Society, Monday, April 7th, 2014, 5:30 p.m. in the J.J. Rhyne Room, Zarrow Hall, 700 Elm Ave., Norman, OK

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South Africa is known for its high rates of HIV and tuberculosis, where HIV has provided fertile ground for TB. Indeed, HIV-TB co-infection is widely understood as one of, if not the biggest health problems in the country. In practice, doctors and nurses understand that unusual cases of tuberculosis indicate HIV, and they make diagnoses and treatment plans accordingly. This understanding is informed by international treatment protocols with little attention to individual people (and their bodies) and the politicaleconomic, cultural, social, and environmental contexts in which they live and experience health. Told through the story of one woman’s case of a rare form of tuberculosis, this talk brings together work in medical anthropology (local biologies) and geography (political ecology) to argue that the impact of HIV/AIDS is far more complicated and significant for people’s health than academic and policy analyses currently portray.

 

This event is co-sponsored by the Department of International and Area Studies and the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability. This event is free and open to the public. For more information or accommodation on the basis of disability, contact IAS at 325-1584.


"The National Weather Center Green Roof Initiative:  Making It Grow in the Sky (Or “Lucy in the Sky with Flowers”)" by Dr. Tom Woodfin, Professor & Director of the Landscape Architecture Division, College of Architecture, OU, Friday, March 28, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Oklahoma is famous for its extractive resources beginning with the millions of tons of topsoil exported across the country by wind during the Dust Bowl. Seeking to re-capture some of its intrinsic value is a challenge when profits are simpler from mining resources than conserving them. This presentation will explore the evolution of a vegetated roof installed on the National Weather Center in Norman that began as a toy, has become an experiment and will soon serve as a replicable example of sustainable design. The potential for southern Great Plains grasses and forbs to provide avian and insect habitat as well an aesthetically-attractive vegetated roof will be described and assessed in the presentation. The intersection of experimentation and native context is revealed on the rooftop of the national center for experimentation and analysis of severe weather science.


"Evaluating the Impact of Climate Change on Summertime Air Quality in the Continental U.S." Dr. Monica Harkey, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison, Friday, February 14, 2014, 3:30 p.m., Sarkeys Energy Center, A235,  with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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What we know about current air quality is determined by a network of ground-based monitors, and more recently, by satellite data. However, these sources have limited spatial and temporal scales, which limit their applicability for informing policy in non-covered areas and time periods. To fill in these knowledge gaps, we use atmospheric chemistry models—but how reliable are the models? For estimates of policy-relevant future air quality, how can we determine model accuracy?

 

Model simulations of historic air quality can be verified using observations, but simulations of future air quality can not. I will demonstrate a different technique that can be used to evaluate model estimates of air quality, using historic air quality-climate relationships. We will investigate why and how air quality-climate relationships vary over location and time, and explore how future changes in climate drive changes in summertime air quality across the U.S.


"Walking and Biking: Active Transportation and the Built Environment" by Dr. Meghan Wieters OU Regional & City Planning.  Friday, January 31, 2014 3:30 p.m. Sarkey's Energy Center, Room 442, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Urban planners are concerned with many aspects of the built environment: land use, natural environment, housing, economic development, urban design, and transportation issues. The built environment includes all these aspects and we understand that certain choices in land use patterns, transportation infrastructure, and attention to the natural environment also impact our behaviors and potentially our health. As you might note in these photos, pedestrian infrastructure should go beyond just pouring a few feet of concrete. Bicycle lanes are more than just paint. These images highlight aspects about the built environment that may not facilitate these more active forms of transportation. This talk will discuss the impacts of existing infrastructure for walking and bicycling and what perhaps we can do to improve the area of the built environment. Further, this talk will also cover different methods of
measuring characteristics of the built environment and a ‘take home’ tool will be passed out that you can use within your own neighborhood.


"Scale Issues in Land Change Studies" by Dr. Michaela Buenemann, New Mexico State University.  Friday, November 22, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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Information on rates and patterns of land changes is critical for assessments of human and environmental drivers and impacts of these changes and, consequently, the development of sustainable land management strategies. However, the observed rates and patterns of land changes often vary with spatial, temporal, and thematic scale, complicating such assessments. This has been documented in numerous studies but only to a limited degree, because emphasis has usually been on just one of the different types of scale. To provide a more comprehensive understanding of scale effects in land change studies, we produced land use and land cover maps for Las Cruces, NM—a development hotspot in the U.S. Southwest—at various levels of spatial, thematic, and temporal detail and documented the impacts of those scale changes on rates and patterns of land change. This talk will present some of the major fi ndings of this work and discuss some of the implications of these fi ndings for land change science.


Friday, November 22, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.


"A Conceptual Framework for Sustainability" by Dr. Will Focht, Associate Professor of Political Science, Oklahoma State University.  Friday, November 15, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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"A Conceptual Framework for Sustainability" by Dr. Will Focht, Associate Professor of Political Science, Oklahoma State University.  Friday, November 15, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.


"Using Global Climate Models and Downscaled Data in Environmental Studies" by Dr. Carlos Gaitan, post-doctoral researcher, South Central Climate Science Center and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ.  Friday, November 1, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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"Using Global Climate Models and Downscaled Data in Environmental Studies" by Dr. Carlos Gaitan, post-doctoral researcher, South Central Climate Science Center and NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ.  Friday, November 1, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.


"Place Matters" by Dr. Hans Butzer, The University of Oklahoma.  Friday, October 25, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.

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"Place Matters" by Dr. Hans Butzer, The University of Oklahoma.  Friday, October 25, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15 p.m.


"Indigenous Geography: Place-Based Cultural and Biodiversity Heritage" by Dr. Doug Herman, The Smithsonian Institution.  Friday, September 27, 2013, 3:15 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room A235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:00 p.m.

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Environmental issues, especially climate change and the loss of biodiversity, are among the most pressing issues facing our planet today. The human role in environmental issues results from technological innovations racing ahead of human wisdom—of decision-making based on deep and abiding knowledge and understanding of long-term processes and aimed at maintaining balance and harmony in the world. Such wisdom is embodied in the Haudenosaunee philosophy that all major decisions of a nation must be based on a mindfulness of seven generations.

 

Geography provides ways of talking about the interconnections between environment, modes of production, social and political formations, and cultural practices and values. Traditional wisdom pays keen attention to the environment at the same time that it teaches of values, social order and personal development. “Indigenous Geography” combines traditional and modern tools to investigate cultural and environmental knowledge as holistically integrated. Indigenous Geography can provide an in-depth, penetrating and informative understanding of human-environment relations. Thus it provides the most powerful approach for understanding human-environment issues and pointing to effective courses of action.


"Geospatial Risk Perception and Response in Tornado Warnings" by Kim Klockow, Ph.D. - The University of Oklahoma.  Friday, August 23, 2013, 1:00 p.m., NWC, Room 1313, with tea and cookies served.

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"Geospatial Risk Perception and Response in Tornado Warnings" by Kim Klockow, Ph.D. - The University of Oklahoma.  Friday, August 23, 2013, 1:00 p.m., NWC, Room 1313, with tea and cookies served.


Abstract:  Conventional wisdom suggests that extending the “lead-time” of tornado warnings will result in more favorable societal outcomes.  However, the limited research that exists to understand the links between lead-time and response indicates that the relationship is not that simple.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to advance knowledge on this topic by looking at warning lead-time apart from the spatial and place-based contexts in which response takes place.  The present research will expand this discussion by taking the perspective of tornado warnings as projections of risk onto space.  The spatial perspective can be employed to understand the implications of modern warning practice for risk perception and response.  Additionally, it can be used to anticipate what the effects might be of new technologies such as Warn-on-Forecast that will potentially extend warning spaces and project estimates of forecaster uncertainty.


This presentation will highlight the results of both qualitative and quantitative studies that unpack risk perception and response in a spatial context. First, interviews with individuals affected by the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak in the Southeast U.S. revealed numerous geospatial factors that shaped risk perception from the impending tornadoes.  These influences fell under two broad categories: (1) a priori expectations of hazard behavior for local places, and (2) medium-shaped properties of hazard development.  Additionally, the protective action decision process for people responding to the outbreak was mapped over space and time, revealing the implications of geospatial risk perception factors for response decisions. Finally, to study the effects of various risk representations within a controlled environment, a microworld decision experiment was conducted. This systematic manipulation of different representations of uncertainty allowed for an examination of warning design and size on subjective estimates of risk. These experiments offered evidence for three geospatial risk framing effects related to tornado warnings: warning boundary inclusion, symbolic color coding, and distance from storm.  Notably, the first two effects can be influenced directly by weather forecasters. The implications of these findings on current and future warning practices will be discussed.


"Double Trouble in the Andes: Climate Change, Extractive Industries, & Struggles Over Water Resources in the Andes" by Jeffrey Bury, Ph.D., Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz.  Friday, April 26, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey’s Energy Center, Room 235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15.

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Over the past decade a new wave of extractive industries have scaled the Andes and crossed the Amazon Basin in search of new mineral deposits and hydrocarbon resources. While recent global economic chaos did briefly slow the expansion of these activities, rapidly growing demand for raw materials is now accelerating the expansion of new water-intensive natural resource extraction frontiers in the region. At the same time, intensifying climate change has begun to pose new risks for the water resources that are critical to the natural and social systems of the region. This talk will explore the confluence of both climate change and extractive industries and the challenges they pose for hydraulic and hydrologic relations across the Central Andes. Will these new imperatives provoke a profound reordering of the region and will they be double the trouble for new struggles over water resources?


"South Central Climate Science Center - a New Paradigm" by Kim Winton, Director, South Central Climate Science Center, The University of Oklahoma. Friday, April 19, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Sarkey's Energy Center, Room 235, with coffee and snacks starting at 3:15.

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The South Central Climate Science Center (SC CSC) is a new research center formed by the Department of the Interior.  It is operated through the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).  The SC CSC is hosted on the University Research Campus.  The University of Oklahoma is the Host University and one of the research  Consortium Members.  Other members of the Consortium are Texas Tech University, Oklahoma State University, Louisiana State University, the Chickasaw Nation and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab.  The groups all work together on themes such as climate change, precipitation variability, effects of climate on ecosystems and the human dimension related to climate change.  The SC CSC just had its one year anniversary on March 1, 2013.  This presentation will give you history of why the centers were established, a summary of the ongoing work, as well as information of how you can participate.


Dr. Sarah de Leeuw, "Troubling Good Intentions"

March 27, 2013 (Wednesday)
Sarah de Leeuw, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Northern Medical Program, The University of Northern British Columbia, Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia

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ABSTRACT:  This paper takes as a starting point that many, many, more spaces must be created and opened up for Aboriginal peoples and Indigenous ways of knowing and being. The current lack of critical engagement with policies and practices that appear, superficially, to support broader inclusivity and diversity of Indigenous peoples in academic institutions and other spaces, however, requires greater critical attention. I argue that, principally because such policies are inherently designed to serve settler-colonial subjects and powers, many inclusivity and diversity policies instead result in an ongoing colonial relationship with Indigenous peoples, epistemologies, and ontologies. Indeed, I (and co-authors) worry that individual Aboriginal peoples are suffering at deeply embodied levels as universities and other institutional spaces rush to demonstrate well-intended “decolonizing” agendas. Drawing from examples in British Columbia, Canada, this paper provides a critical intervention into a rapidly ascending, and deeply institutionalized, dominance of policies and practices that claim to promote and open spaces for Indigenous peoples and perspectives within academic institutions. I draw on critical race theorists, including Sara Ahmed, and in my conclusion offer suggestions that aim to destabilize and trouble the good intentions of neo-colonial policies.


Dr. Jason Julian, "Optical Water Quality of New Zealand Rivers: A Landscape Perspective"

February 22, 2013 (Friday)
Jason Julian, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, DGES, OU

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Julian spent three months last year in New Zealand (NZ) on a Fulbright Fellowship, where he investigated the effects of landscape characteristics and land use change on optical water quality in NZ rivers. Optical water quality
(OWQ), or water clarity, is one of NZ’s most valuable natural resources, as it influences numerous ecosystem processes and is a key component of aesthetics, tourism, recreation, and management of water resources. Given its relevance to so many environmental and socioeconomic values, NZ has placed great importance on maintaining its high level of OWQ. However, OWQ has been degraded in many waters across NZ as a result of land use change, most notably agricultural intensification. This colloquium will present the findings from Dr. Julian’s Fulbright study and related research on OWQ trends in inland waters. Preliminary findings will also be presented from a recently funded project titled “Land Management Impacts on Water Quality in New Zealand across Political Boundaries.”


Dr. Asa Randall, "Remotely Sensing Ancient Social Geographies"

February 15, 2013 (Friday)
Asa R. Randall, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, OU

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Landscape archaeology is the study of ancient social geographies, or how communities modified, experienced, and responded to past environments. Aerial remote sensing techniques have revolutionized landscape archaeology through the rapid and relatively inexpensive acquisition of geospatial data. For example, archaeological sites and their surrounding environs in difficult to reach locations can now be precisely mapped using LiDAR. Although incredibly useful, these datasets suffer the same problem of any map: they are static snapshots of long-term processes and they represent space in ways that were likely foreign to the original, non-Western inhabitants.  These problems are particularly acute in the St. Johns River valley of northeast Florida, where large mounds of freshwater snail shells were constructed by hunter-gatherers 7500 to 3000 years ago. These mounds are situated within extensive wetlands and hardwood swamps, making them difficult to research, and moreover, many were altered or destroyed by 20th century land use practices. Based on archaeological research at a subset of mounds, we know that they were built or modified for a variety of purposes including residence, burial, and communal ritual, and have complex histories of use and abandonment. This talk will explore the how LiDAR-derived elevation models can be historicized and humanized when integrated with archaeological data, and problematized with social theory. In the case of the St. Johns, the argument is made that hunter-gatherer communities radically rearranged the social geography of the region during periods of political and ecological upheaval through mound construction.


COLLOQUIUM SERIES - FALL 2012

Dr. Xolile Ncube, "Adapting to Drought and Environmental Change in Zimbabwe"

November 30, 2012 (Friday)
Xolile Ncube, Ph.D., Visiting Fellow, IREX/Oklahoma Climate Survey, OU

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A country once defined as “The bread basket of Africa” and an “Economic powerhouse of Sub-Saharan Africa,” a nation that was known for exporting tobacco, wheat and cotton across Africa and beyond, is now known for its widespread food aid distribution programs since the year 2000. For over a decade the country has been plagued by political, economic and social challenges which have heightened the effects of a changing climate. The rural poor have borne the worst brunt of the changing climate. A total of 8.75 million people are dependent on subsistence farming in rural Zimbabwe and are faced with decreased harvests and the threat of food insecurity due to sparse and erratic rainfall and high temperatures. This seminar will present some of the impacts of drought in Zimbabwe, drought adaptation
strategies that are currently being undertaken in rural communities, the benefits of the adaptation strategies to the rural poor, the challenges that have been faced in adaptation, and future plans for preparing the most vulnerable for the continued changes in weather patterns.


Dr. Sheryl Magzamen, "Social and Environmental Determinants of Asthma"

November 16, 2012 (Friday)
Sheryl Magzamen, Ph.D., College of Public Health and Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, OU

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Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting approximately seven percent of children in the United States. Evidence suggests that social factors and the physical environment contribute to asthma prevalence as well as asthma-related morbidity. Geographic information systems (GIS) is a useful and facile framework to explore the relative contributions of community-level factors that contribute to the disease burden. This talk will highlight the factors that contribute to asthma related morbidity, the use of GIS in asthma studies, and how the implementation of a GIS in a cohort of adolescents provided a refined understanding of ecological-level exposures on asthma diagnosis and exacerbations. Methodological issues related to asthma epidemiology will also be discussed along with GIS technology developed to address these challenges.


Dr. Alexandra Ponette-Gonzalez, "Linking Land Use and Land Cover to Ecosystem Function on Tropical Mountains"

November 9, 2012 (Friday)
Alexandra Ponette-Gonzalez, Ph.D., Department of Geography, University of Norh Texas

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Tropical mountains cover 5% of the global landscape yet they harbor Earth’s most important biodiversity hotspots and supply critical ecosystem services to local and downstream users. Although these regions are contemporary hotspots of land-use and land-cover change, we still know little about the impacts of diverse land transitions––forest conversion, coffee agroforestry, afforestation, glacier recession, mining, and urbanization––on ecosystem function, particularly how ecosystems cycle water and nutrients. In this seminar, we will travel to eastern Mexico’s coffee-growing cloud forest belt, northern Peru’s Polylepis treeline, and to southern Brazil’s Atlantic montane forest to explore the effects of past and present human activity on air, water, and soil and the implications for land management.


Dr. Kelvin White, "Mestizaje and Remembering in Afro-Mexican Communities of the Costa Chica: Identity, Forgetting, and the Archive"

October 19, 2012 (Friday)
Kelvin L. White, Ph.D., School of Library and Information Studies, OU

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With a growing theoretical debate within Archival Science about the place of post-modern and post-colonial ideas and the impact that these might have upon archival practice, has come a realization that there are many communities whose experiences are not recorded in official narratives of the states in which they are located. This absence can partly be explained by the non-elite status of members of these communities or because their community practices, culture, and beliefs are often based upon non-textual ways of making and keeping records that fall outside the accepted archival paradigm. Using a case study of a community of African heritage in Mexico’s Costa Chica, this presentation reports on how such absences from the official record and recordkeeping came into being in Mexico, where the problem of underdocumented and underacknowledged communities is potentially exacerbated by the philosophy of mestizaje (the racial mixture of Indigenous and Spanish bloodlines and culture). Mestizaje permitted a sympathetic investigation of the Indigenous past and present in order to engineer a mestizo (mixed) future, but “silenced” other minority groups. Lastly, the presentation explains how black communities of the Cost Chica interact with its environment to maintain its own history and unique cultural landscape.


Dr. Farhana Sultana, "Gender, Water and the Politics of Development: Rethinking Social Justice and Citizenship in the Global South"

September 17, 2012 (Monday)
Farhana Sultana, Ph.D., Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University

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Development politics in urban spaces is steeped in the contradictions of who has a right to the city and in the discourses of environmental governance of cities.  Informal settlements, that are often on the fringes of socio-spatial acceptance yet visibly occupying spaces that are ‘green’ (public land, parks) or ‘blue’ (lakes, canals), are rapidly expanding as migrants move to cities throughout the global South. This presentation looks at the multiple dimensions of water governance and poverty in a mega-city (Dhaka, Bangladesh) that is facing spiraling growth, water crises and social stratification. Water access, use, and control in the urban and peri-urban areas of Dhaka are increasingly becoming critical as informal settlements expand, while there are insufficient infrastructural and managerial capacities to provide drinking water and sanitation services to all urban denizens. Urban poverty is further compounded not only by lack of water security, but also through class politics and spatial inequities. Issues of social injustice and unequal citizenship come to a head over claims to the rights of development and materializing the universal right to water. The presentation analyzes the gendered and classed dimensions of water-related poverty and wellbeing, and looks at the ways that social justice and citizenship have to be rethought vis-à-vis contradictions of development and water governance more broadly.


COLLOQUIUM SERIES - SPRING 2012

Dr. Jacqueline Vadjunec, "New Amazonian Geographies: Florestania, Environment, and Identity in Acre, Brazil"

March 9, 2012 (Wednesday)
Jacqueline Vadjunec, Ph.D., Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University

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This talk explores collaborative research investigating complex identities and changing geographies in the Brazilian Amazon carried out by the author in conjunction with Marianne Schmink (UF), Stephen Perez (UF) and Valerio Gomes (TNC-Brazil). Using a political and cultural ecology framework and drawing on a mixed methods approach, I show the historic importance of the rubber tapper’s movement in the rise of Acre’s “Forest Government,” and specifically: the cooptation and celebration of the rubber tapper identity by the government; the shifting land-use patterns, environmental impacts, and socio-economic changes of the rubber tappers themselves; and the tensions, challenges, and opportunities created by the emergence of new and complex identities. I argue that understanding the social dimension and fluidity of identity are crucial for apprehending the forces directing land-use change, and for promoting the successful management of natural resources in a rapidly changing Amazonia.


Dr. Reid Coffman, "Landscape Machines: Creating Urban Ecological Infrastructure"

February 17, 2012 (Thursday)
Reid Coffman, Ph.D., Division of Landscape Architecture, OU

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Cities worldwide are entering an era of producing ecological services. Clean air, clean water, moderate temperatures, dynamic biodiversity, and local food are expectations of 21st century cities. Even within the omnipresence of the global community local settings are expected to deliver healthy-and-clean ecological productivity. This trend is reconfiguring civic infrastructure and creating new machines possessing, sometimes inconceivable, multifunctional character that take a variety of forms, and may come to change our perspectives of civic landscape.  It is important to know what types of landscape machines are being investigated, the forms they might assume, and the effect they may have on our civic landscape. For exploration of these questions, this talk will review the creation of two landscapes.


Dr. Paul Adams, "Virtual Spaces of the Pre-Digital Era"

February 10, 2012 (Friday)
Paul C. Adams, Ph.D., Geography and Environment, University of Texas at Austin

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Spoken words created the original form of virtual space. Speech translated multidimensional experiences in the world into one-dimensional sequences of words. By engaging in a conversation two or more people could manipulate a virtual space-time by using predictive, retrospective and hypothetical modes of speech. With the invention of writing, these verbal virtual worlds could be “fixed” or made durable and portable. This not only facilitated geographical expansion of social relations in the form of trade networks, city-states and empires, but it also enabled the elaboration of sacred, mythical and magical space-times. With the invention of printing, fixed words could no longer be centrally controlled. The burgeoning print-based discourse crossed borders and escaped political domination, giving rise to evasive virtual places of political, philosophical, scientific and religious speculation. Interest in virtuality should not result in an obsession with new communication technologies but rather serve as a model for understanding both old and new media.


COLLOQUIUM SERIES - FALL 2011

Dr. Aaron Wolf, "Healing the Enlightenment Rift: Rationality, Spirituality, and Shared Waters"

November 9, 2011 (Wednesday)
Aaron Wolf, Ph.D., Oregon State University

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While press reports of international waters often focus on conflict, what has been more encouraging is that, throughout the world, water also induces cooperation, even in particularly hostile basins, and even as disputes rage over other issues. Which begs the question, why do countries that share a basin cooperate on water, even when they will not cooperate over other issues? Studies offer economic, environmental, or strategic rationale to explain this “hydro-cooperation,” but none seems completely adequate. Perhaps some part of the answer lies not in the world of rationality, but rather in the spiritual, ethical, and moral dimensions of water conflict resolution.
This talk will begin by setting the context of current understanding of water conflict and cooperation, then by documenting the geography of the “Enlightenment Rift” – the process by which the global West/North separated out the worlds of rationality from spirituality – and the impact of this rift on ideas related to natural resources management. We continue with a discussion of the current clash of worldviews, and conclude with a section describing how the two worldviews might gently be interwoven, for example within a fairly-universal construct of Four Worlds of perception, and how this construct might be employed within the framework of more effective water conflict management and transformation.


Dr. Will Graf, "Where the Wild Things Are: Rivers, Dams, and Wildlife Preservation"

November 2, 2011 (Wednesday)
Will Graf, Ph.D., University of South Carolina

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Water and wildlife are strongly connected in the United States because the Endangered Species Act (ESA) commits the nation to prevent the extinction of wildlife, while the Clean Water Act (CLA) commits the country to restore and maintain the nation’s water courses. Water development is the number one threat to species: it stresses one third of all the species listed under the ESA as threatened or endangered, while specific water management activities such as water diversion and flow disruptions affect a quarter of the listed species. Dams, by their control of flows, are the most common human controls on rivers that threaten wildlife populations by eliminating pre-dam habitats through channel shrinkage and simplification of the fluvial geomorphology. Dams also create new habitats, but they are rarely suitable for imperiled species. Restoration of rivers through dam modification, re-operation, or removal creates partly modified, partly “natural” river segments with expanded suitable habitat for many species. Experiences with dams, species impacts, and potential restoration on the Rio Grande of New Mexico (where the silvery minnow is endangered), Platte River of Nebraska (whooping crane), and Everglades of Florida (Florida panther) suggest three generalizations for researchers and decision-makers: get the water right by restoring normalized flows, get the context right by emphasizing physical integrity first, and accommodate change that is the hallmark of fluvial systems.


Dr. Margaret Wickens Pearce, "Sissismanbigaditchewak or Joe Pease? Mapping Indigenous place names with Penobscot Nation"

September 30, 2011 (Friday)
Margaret Wickens Pearce, Ph.D., University of Kansas

Indigenous place names delineate political territories, establish ancestral ties, locate and interrelate knowledges about environmental resources, demarcate travel routes and conditions, reenact transformer tales, encode climate change
and climate adaptation strategies, and track the movement of communities during seasonal cycles. They are themselves manifestations of traditional cartographies, stored in the landscape and animated through engagements with that landscape. As such, their recollection, delineation, and expression are often central to cultural revitalization programs. Maps are perceived to be necessary devices for the representation of these names, yet any translation of Indigenous to western cartographies is challenging, and the maps which result from place name remappings often inadequate in their expression of the meanings and functions of the names. This presentation explores the methodological and design challenges inherent to cartographic translations of place name landscapes, some of the strategies developed by Indigenous communities to address such challenges, and a case study of my collaboration with the Penobscot Nation Cultural & Historic Preservation Department to map the Wabanaki place names of Penobscot territory.


Dr. Charles Vörösmarty, "Global Water Crisis? Yes... and Closer Than You Think"

September 19, 2013 (Monday)
Charles Vörösmarty, Ph.D., City University of New York

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Dr. Vörösmarty is a professor of civil engineering, a Distinguished Scientist with NOAA-Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center and director of The City University of New York’s Environmental Crossroads Initiative at The City College of New York. He is a founding member of the Global Water System Project that represents the input of more than 200 international scientists under the International Council for Science’s Global Environmental Change Programs. He is spearheading efforts to develop globalscale indicators of water stress, to develop and apply databases of reservoir construction worldwide and to analyze coastal zone risks associated with water diversion. He recently won one of two national awards through the National Science Foundation to execute studies on hydrologic synthesis.


COLLOQUIUM SERIES - SPRING 2011

Dr. Grigory Ioffe, "Spatial Change In Rural Russia"

April 29, 2011 (Friday)
Grigory Ioffe, Ph.D., Professor of Geography at the Radford University (Radford, VA)

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The continuous zone of settlement long considered a defining feature of Europe, is undergoing fragmentation along its eastern periphery. Massive areas of rural depopulation have emerged in many regions of European Russia, including its heartland. As a result of farmland abandonment, no fewer than 20 million hectares of arable land are already deserted in European Russia, and more will be left behind in the foreseeable future. The ongoing spatial fragmentation results in two diverging structures, identified on the basis of a unique district-structured database: an emerging archipelago of commercial farming, and the so-called black holes, the likely loci of soon-to-be-abandoned land. While the major factor of land abandonment appears to be rural depopulation, its results are not identical everywhere. In the north of European Russia, the major predictor of farmland’s retention is distance from the regional capital whereas in the south the major predictor is natural fertility of land. Some results of the most recent (2010) field research in Kostroma and Samara Oblasts of Russia will be presented to illustrate this bi-modal spatial trend.


Dr. Jane Allen, "Engineering Power from the Wind"

April 22, 2011 (Friday)
Janet Allen, Ph.D., Professor, Johan and Mary Moore Chair in School of Industrial Engineering, OU

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Wind is increasingly being used to supply elecric power.  Worldwide wind power provides about 2% of the electricity used and this has increased about 100% in the last 3 years.  However, the well-known fluctuations in wind strength and direction present two probelms - the first is reliability and the second is the cost of providing a steady supply of electricity in the face of these fluctuations.  Various engineering solutions have been proposed to mitigate the effects of variability and progress is being made - by combining the output of several turbines or by storing energy and thus reducing the consecquences of its variabilty.


Dr. Yang Hong, "Climate Change Impacts on Water Availability and Hydrologic Extremes: Case Studies from the USA and Emerging Regions"

April 1, 2011 (Friday)
Yang Hong, Ph.D., School of Civil Engineering and Environmental
Sciences Remote Sensing Hydrometeorology
Group at National Weather Center, OU

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Understanding how climate change will impact regional hydrologic regimes is one of the major challenges of the 21st century. Is the regional hydrological cycle changing or even intensifying as a result of climate change? How will future water resources and hydrologic extremes respond to the changing climate? To answer these questions, we have developed an Integrated Climate-Hydrology-Water Continuum Modeling Framework given natural and anthropogenic projection scenarios downscaled from the IPCC recommended 16 Earth System Models to study the impacts of climate change on water resources (precipitation, runoff, evapotranspiration, soil water storage) and the frequency of hydrologic extremes (flood and droughts) in several regions, including the US Southern Great Plain, East Africa Lake Victoria Basin, Nepal Baghmati Basin, and Yellow River Basin of China. We expect the modeling framework, validated by past hydrologic history, will lead to improved understanding of the impacts of climate change on future hydrologic variability and water availability, support stakeholders with scenario-based decision-making processes, and develop solution-oriented adaptation strategies in these regions for targeted short, medium, and long-term periods (2020, 2050, and 2100).


Dr. Bridget Love, "Places at their Limits:  The Problem of Sustainability in Rural Japan"

March 25, 2011 (Friday)
Bridget Love, Ph.D., Expository Writing and IPE, OU

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Decades of postwar rural outmigration, aging, and economic transition have left Japan’s countryside sapped of vitality and facing pressing concerns about the future. Against this backdrop, the concept of sustainability has assumed new political relevance. Based on ethnographic research in northeastern Japan, this talk will show that sustainability, with its emphasis on local agency and self-sufficiency, has inspired creative strategies of rural renewal in radically depopulated communities. Yet I will argue that sustainability also legitimates a withdrawal of state support from Japan’s countryside through regional decentralization reforms that leave depleted communities and their residents to their own devices.