Good friend and collaborator Dr. Kirsten Schwarz presented research at the 2012 Association of American Geographers that focused on the relationships between patterns in the social and economic diversity of a city and the distribution or urban tree canopy. Her work makes comparisons across several U.S. cities that have tree planting initiatives and asks whether the ways these new trees are distributed could reduce environmental inequities and lays the groundwork for future work concerning the ultimate impact of tree location on public health and the services urban ecosystems provide to local residents, and the economic costs and benefits of different planting and maintenance strategies. She passed along TALES FROM URBAN FORESTS , produced by the US Forest Service that is a great resource for people interested in learning about urban forests. After living in Phoenix, I’m partial to the stories about the impacts of the urban heat island effect on human health, especially in poorer neighborhoods.
The Chronicle of Higher Education covers changes in community college enrollment and their role in society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Full disclosure: I had shoulder surgery last week, so this post is likely to be a little disjointed (pardon the pun).
I’m really proud to work at an institution that recognizes the value of attracting diverse students to higher education. NRES has a fellowship to support underrepresented students and there are many university-wide initiatives available to highly qualified students. It sounds cheesy, but there is real value in diversity. Ideological diversity is the key to creativity and novel problem identification and solving. As an interdisciplinary scholar, I am keenly aware of the ability of a new perspective to disrupt assumptions. Gender, race, class, geography, sexuality, and countless other differences shape our perspective on the world. Encountering and engaging across world views and life experiences allows the opportunity for greater synthesis and appreciation for the nuances of living on earth. In the highly political climate we’re living in, it is easy to shut off and shut down ideas that are different. But isn’t science all about testing assumptions? I think so. And I think that is my liberal education talking. (And by liberal, I mean – open to alternative viewpoints, not necessarily left-leaning.)