Plenary talks are free and open to university staff, students and faculty as well as the general public. We ask that non-ISSRM attendees please consider making a donation to the ISSRM Student Scholarship Fund, which helps facilitate student participation at ISSRM
The Ecology of Hope and Devastation (Monday, June 18th, 10-11:15am)
The application of human/social ecology to environmental issues extends to geographies of north and south, and conditions of hope and devastation. The environmental social sciences have traditionally been applied to issues of resource management, conservation and sustainability, all of which are signs of hope in these early years of the 21st century. The same environmental sciences are now poised for increased application to much harsher issues: warfare, humanitarian crises local and global, disease outbreaks, and extraordinary hazards from climate change to bio-terrorism. How can human/social ecology respond, and what theory and practice is needed to do so effectively?
Dr. Gary Machlis is the Science Advisor to the Director of the US National Park Service (NPS), and advises the NPS and Department of the Interior on a range of science programs, policies and issues. He is also Professor of Conservation in the College of Natural Resources at the University of Idaho. Dr. Machlis received his BS and MS degrees from the University of Washington and his PhD from Yale University. He has served as Visiting Chief Social Scientist for the NPS, and helped lead the establishment of the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) Network. His work has been published in journals ranging from Science, BioScience, Climate Change, and Oceanography to the Annals of Sociology, Rural Sociology, and Society and Natural Resources. His most recent book (2011) is Warfare Ecology: A New Synthesis for Peace and Security. In 2010, Dr. Machlis was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Machlis has led an international project to advance science in Haiti after its devastating earthquake, and recently chaired a small working group to advance US-Cuba scientific collaboration. In early 2012, the Secretary of the Interior appointed him to co-lead the Strategic Sciences Group of the Department, which responds to environmental crises such as industrial accidents, terrorist attacks, and natural hazards.
Dr. Machlis’ keynote presentation is sponsored by the University of Alberta’s Office of Sustainability.
Intergenerational Equity & Decolonization: An argument for Love in an Era of Rapid Environmental Change (Wed., June 20th, 10-11:15am)
Conversations surrounding resource management are often dominated by assumptions rooted in particular understanding and values regarding human-environment relationships. As our disciplines shift, researchers are asking more nuanced questions concerning the atmospheres of relationships through which research is carried out, and more particularly the social and ethical responsibilities of researchers as carriers of stories and knowledge interlocutors. Ms. Freeland Ballantyne’s plenary shares participatory research stories from a mother (re)contextualizing research through the experience of her child in the field. On journey from the Northwest Passage and across the Northwest Territories, this plenary explores the role of the researcher as community member, parent and advocate. Through themes of participatory video research with youth, sustainable development and petro-capitalism amidst drastic climate change Freeland-Ballantyne explores the roles and responsibilities of researchers in making just and meaningful contributions to our future generations. Asking the questions what responsibilities do we have as researchers to future generations and what lessons can be garnished when communities and land become the teacher rather than the subject, Freeland Ballantyne invites us to explore how the personal journey of the researcher and doing research teaches us to think in new ways. Freeland Ballantyne questions the inherent structural inequalities between the researcher and the researched and suggests a new paradigm through which to consider new opportunities for the role of research in resource management.
Erin Freeland Ballantyne is a political ecologist from Somba’ke/ Yellowknife, Denendeh Northwest Territories (NWT), and was the first Rhodes Scholar from the NWT. She is the founder of Dechinta Bush University Centre for Research and Learning, a land-based university program designed and delivered in the North and accredited by the University of Alberta. Her current research explores the transformational impacts of land-based learning on students and teachers alike, and how the cultivation of human-land relationships shifts approaches to research design and politics.
Ms. Freeland Ballantyne’s keynote presentation is sponsored by the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainability.
The Academic Scientist as Environmental Advocate (Thurs., June 21st, 10-11:15am)
For the past 38 years, Dr. Schindler has presented the results of his research and an overview of other relevant science to politicians and other forums relating to natural resource policy. He believes that science should be “on the table” to guide rational policy decisions, not hidden in obscure tomes in Ivory Tower libraries that are used only by academics. Dr. Schindler also believes that scientists have the license to go beyond “what the data show” in advocating for a particular policy decision. He asks “After all, if your plumbing needs repair and no data are available for what is wrong, whose intuition would you trust first, a politician’s, a priest’s, or a plumber’s?” Aquatic ecologists are the plumbers of the ecological world. But one must be careful to indicate where the line between hard science and intuition occurs. Dr. Schindler will discuss the following examples: Eutrophication (the overfertilization of lakes), acid rain, climate change, pulp and paper production, and oil sands development. As time goes on, development is accelerating, and industry and pro-industry governments have developed increasingly polished propaganda, so that timely display of relevant scientific data is increasingly urgent. If we are to make decisions on natural resource exploitation that protect vital ecosystem services and biodiversity, scientists must become advocates.
David Schindler is Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. From 1968 to 1989, he founded and directed the Experimental Lakes Project of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans near Kenora, Ontario, conducting interdisciplinary research on the effects of eutrophication, acid rain, radioactive elements and climate change on boreal ecosystems. His work has been widely used in formulating ecologically sound management policy in Canada, the USA and in Europe. His current research interests include the study of fisheries management in mountain lakes, the biomagnification of organochlorines in food chains, effects of climate change and UV radiation on lakes, and global carbon and nitrogen budgets.