Fairhaven environmental forum kicks off - The Western Front: News

Fairhaven environmental forum kicks off

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Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 8:16 am | Updated: 6:20 pm, Mon Jan 27, 2014.

Editor's note: This story originally misspelled Andrew Bermel's name.


Fairhaven College is currently holding its annual World Issues Forums in the Fairhaven College Auditorium at Western Washington University.

Every Wednesday during winter quarter, a new guest speaker talks about a different facet of global climate change and environmental justice. The title for this year’s forum is “Environmental Justice and Climate Change.”

The forum kicked off on Wednesday, Jan. 5, with speaker Jack Herring, dean of Fairhaven College and co-instructor of the course, “Critical and Reflective Inquiry.” Herring incorporates the forum into his class.

In the coming weeks, other speakers — including Princess Daazhraii Johnson, executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee in Alaska — will discuss the preservation of the Porcupine Caribou’s habitat.

Also speaking at the forum is Winona LaDuke, acclaimed author and activist, who was the Green Party vice presidential nominee in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.  

The World Issues Forum has been going on since 2001, coordinator Shirley Osterhaus said.

It originated right after 9/11, when students were racked with questions about what was going on in the world, Osterhaus said.

The faculty and the dean realized they needed to have something ongoing to continue to address global issues. Osterhaus had been a community activist and educator, and she was hired to coordinate the events, she said.

The event started out as a brown bag lunch to discuss world affairs, Osterhaus said. After the first year, the decision was made to give credit to students who attended the forums.

As of last year, the forum is a four-credit GUR, Osterhaus said. The forums have always been open to the whole campus. Different departments from all over campus are now collaborating, including Canadian-American studies, political science, women’s studies and anthropology.   

Herring’s talk was called, “The Science of Climate Change: A Settled Matter?” He discussed the debate over the scientific data, as well as the forces arrayed for and against the theory of man-made climate change. Put simply, humanity is largely responsible for the increase in global temperature, which is having adverse effects on the planet, he said.

Andrew Bermel, a student in Herring’s class, said his talk went into detail about what Vermel himself had observed.

“What I’m looking for, is a concentrated insight to a professional who has dedicated his life to this field, that hasn’t been manipulated or watered down by editors,” Bermel said.

Bermel added that he was particularly looking forward to the talk called, “The Global Environmental Challenge of China,”  which is about how China is one of the leading contributors of carbon emissions, he said.

“I’m most interested to see if the principles of sustainability can be applied on a global and industrial scale,” Bermel said.  

Bermel is eager to learn more about topics like the debate over global climate change, he said.

The forum continues every Wednesday until March 5. For more information on upcoming talks, click here.

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