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Syracuse University Magazine (USPS 009-049, ISSN 1065-884X)
Volume 21, Number 2, is an official bulletin of Syracuse University
and is published four times yearly: spring, summer, fall, and winter
by Syracuse University, Syracuse NY 13244. It is distributed free
of charge to alumni, friends, faculty, and staff. Periodical postage
paid at Syracuse, NY, and additional mailing offices.
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Contents © 2004 Syracuse University, except where noted. Opinions
expressed in Syracuse University Magazine are those of the
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• UNIVERSITY MISSION •
To promote learning through teaching, research, scholarship, creative
accomplishment, and service.
• UNIVERSITY VISION •
be the leading student-centered research university with faculty,
students, and staff sharing responsibility and working together
for academic, professional, and personal growth.
There are no
simple solutions to environmental problems these days. Consider,
for instance, the role of coal-burning power plants in our society.
They choke our atmosphere with unsavory chemical combinations and,
among other things, release mercury and produce acid rain. But they
also create energy and jobs. While everyone desires a pristine environment,
no one wants to see people laid off or endure a blackout. Without
question, the more we build and expand our boundaries and technologize
our lives, the greater the chances are that well deplete more
of our natural resources and encroach on the environment. And the
more this happens, the more complex the tradeoffs become.
Even when folks
line up on the same side of an issue, theres no telling what
might happen. I discovered this at a local trout conservation club
meeting, where discussion of protecting the upper Delaware Rivers
wild trout fishery was overshadowed by a spat over which advocacy
organization deserved the clubs support on the issue. I had
expected talk of trout preservation, but never thought such a gathering
would require a copy of Roberts Rules of Order and
a sergeant at arms.
on my years as a reporter, I cant recall any issue connected
to the environment that didnt stir peoples passions.
Ive seen many citizens turn into activists over the fear of
groundwater contamination, haphazard development, and the loss of
wetlands. Critics often attribute such activism to NIMBY (Not In
My Back Yard) syndrome. In some instances, that may very well be
the case. But who wants low-level radioactive waste stored on the other side of their fence? Without grassroots activism, this
world could become an environmental shambles.
why no matter what the issue, its important to amass as much
information as possible about it and examine it from multiple perspectives.
Here on campus, a collaborative effortinspired by the Academic
Planis under way between the faculties of SU and the SUNY
College of Environmental Science and Forestry to address environmental
issues through an interdisciplinary lens (see
Eco-Connections). The human impact
on every ecosystem in the world is undeniable, says Rachel
May, director of the Office of Environment and Society, which was
established to enhance collaborative research among faculty. The
natural, political, and cultural forces affecting the environment
are all related, and the only way to make progress is by looking
at all of these factors together. If you look at the directory
on the offices web site (enspire.syr.edu/directory/htm),
youll see an array of disciplines represented. There are ecologists,
biologists, engineers, and chemists, as well as economists, geographers,
landscape architects, urban designers, and policy experts. With
access to the directory, faculty can search out each others
interests and look for potential intersections in their work.
promising approach to connecting researchers in creative ways that
otherwise could easily be overlooked. Lets hope this effort
ignites. For it can lead us not only to a better understanding of
the environment, but also to a better understanding of ourselves
and our role in keeping Mother Earth alive and kicking well beyond