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Provost Briefs

Environmental Studies Program

The Environmental Studies Program has experienced tremendous growth in the past few years. We now routinely graduate over 70 majors and minors each year, easily placing ES among the largest departments/programs over the past five or so years. To meet student demand, we have added new faculty within the Environmental Studies Program. The new lines include Professor John Halfman, whose line moved from Geoscience to Environmental Studies last year (once again) and who is currently chair of the program (once again). He continues his work on water quality issues in the Finger Lakes, and spends considerable time on Seneca Lake and at the Finger Lakes Institute. He was recently awarded the Finger Lakes Institute Endowed Chair in Environmental Studies. Professor Tom Drennen, whose line remains in Economics, continues to be an active part of the program, teaching introductory, capstone, and energy economics classes.

Additional lines start with Professor Darrin Magee, who was just recommended for promotion to Associate Professor with tenure. Darrin teaches environmentally-focused courses on Asia/China, and a locally focused course on garbage, as well as introductory ES courses on energy and occasionally water. He has established himself as an expert in water and energy environmental issues in China, especially in relation to water use, hydroelectric dams, and the electricity sector. He was successful at attracting funds from the Henry Luce Foundation to support his work and enable Environmental Studies to hire a post-doctoral scholar and part-time instructor, Professor Robin Lewis. Robin teaches courses on biodiversity, human geography, development, and sustainable consumption. Her research focuses on sustainability and the politics of natural resource management focusing on a national forest certification scheme in Malaysia and more recently the impact of changing climate on food security in Central Java, Indonesia.

Professor Beth Kinne’s position was converted to tenure-track two years ago. She teaches introductory courses on water in addition to environmental, natural resource and business law classes. She is currently co-editing a book entitled Beyond the Fracking Wars: A Guide for Lawyers, Public Officials, Planners and Citizens, which explores legal and practical responses to the environmental, infrastructure and social challenges caused by the rapid development of unconventional natural gas resources. Her own chapter covers the impact of the recent changes to the Clean Air Act regulations on emissions from oil and gas development. Professor Kristen Brubaker started last fall. She is our Geographical Information Systems (GIS) expert, teaches the GIS courses and environmental science, and uses GIS to investigate, among other things, the impact of topography on forest cover and drainage. Her research focuses on utilizing cutting-edge LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to understand the relationship between terrain, soil, water, and vegetation in the northeast. We are excited about our newest tenure-track hire, Professor Chiyo Crawford, who will start teaching courses on, among other things, environmental literature and environmental justice this coming fall semester (2013). Finally, Professor Joel Helfrich, who has taught environmental justice and community sustainability courses in a temporary capacity, will continue to do so in the 2013-2014 academic year.