Taking place on thousands of campuses across the United States, “Focus the Nation” is an opportunity for students and faculty to participate in a national discussion about climate change and the aspects surrounding it. This year Western will be hosting a variety of different lecture panels, as well as other activities, to get students involved.
According to Kayla Henson, co-coordinator of the Environmental Center (EC), the event is being co-sponsored by the EC, the Office of Sustainability and Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG), an AS club at Western that focuses on issues of the public interest.
After talking to other sustainability coordinators at various universities over the past year, Western's Office of Sustainability decided to get the campus involved and to raise student interest over the issue of climate change, said Seth Vidana, program coordinator for the office.
Here at Western, these discussions will take place as a panel discussion series on Jan. 28, 29 and 30, Henson said. Each panel has a different theme regarding climate change: noon to 1p.m on Jan. 28 in VU 464 covers Tipping Points: Climate Politics, Economics. That evening, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Building (SL) 110 deals with Addiction to Fossil Fuels. From noon to 1 p.m. on Jan. 29 in VU 464, the panel will focus on Food and the Future. Later, from 6 to 7 p.m. in SL 110 the discussion will center on Developing Nations and Climate Change. Climate Change and Local Hazards will be discussed Jan. 30 in VU 464. Finally, Faith and Climate will be the focus from 6 to 7 p.m. in SL 110.
Each panel consists of three to four experts on the topic, both professors from Western as well as community members. Each presenter will talk for 10 to 15 minutes about the issue, and then an open discussion will follow, Henson said.
According to Henson, while the panels are the main focus of the event, there will also be students in Red Square this week at tables to give more information about the panels and the issues, as well as letting students sign a pledge committing to various environmental promises.
Students are also encouraged to wear green on Jan. 31 to show support for the environment and possible solutions for climate change.
Also, interested students are encouraged to ask their professors to take 10 minutes during class on Jan. 31 and talk about the how climate change affects their profession. This “National Teach-In” is a way students can actively participate and educate themselves about the effects of the climate change.
“We want to spawn discussion on the topic over the next week, both through the panels and then we want students to take the issues to their classrooms and discuss the relevance climate change has to the programs that they are involved in,” Vidana said.
“We hope these discussions influence students to make personal changes, as well as community changes because discussion and education are a very important part of making the public care,” Henson said. “Climate change is a human topic.”
According to Henson, there are more resources available at http://www.focusthenation.org. The Web site provides students with ideas for coming up with global warming solutions as well as providing reliable background and information. In addition, students can watch “The 2% Solution,” an interactive webcast dealing with global warming solutions at 8 p.m. on Jan 30.