Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bringing women's ways of knowing to deliberative democracy

Dr. Sue Senecah, Faculty of Environmental Studies, examined the history of "Tech-Reg" decision making nvite, Inform, Ignore), and contrasted it with the more collaborative approaches to problem solving that encourage systems thinking and respect different ways of knowing (traditional as well as scientific).  The former assumes linear cause and effect; the later recognizes that much conflict arises from real or perceived obstacles to participation, and that solutions come from building a trusting relationship.  Dr. Senecah notes that trust does not denote liking, but r that other party is true to his or her word.  Out of this discussion came a realization of participants that traditional ways of knowing uses as much (if not more) listening as well as talking, which means that there may be "uncomfortable" silences as each party absorbs the others words.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dr. Rosemary O'Leary: Managing Guerilla Government

As part of the course requirements for FOR 496/797 Women & Environmental Careers, students share responsibility for reporting on speakers.  The following was prepared by Arlene Ast.

Dr. Rosemary O’Leary, distinguished Professor of Public Administration at The Maxwell School, Syracuse University discussed “Managing Guerilla Government:  Scientists’ Dissent in Environmental Organizations.”   Dr. O’Leary was the final speaker of the SUNY-ESF’s Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Spring 2007 Seminar Series and was sponsored by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and the ESF Women’s Caucus.

Dr. O’Leary discussed the topic of “Guerilla Government” which refers to career public servants who act against the wishes, either explicitly or implicitly, communicated by a superior. They are not political appointees. Most are not whistleblowers or themselves corrupt.  

While working as a Director at a State Environmental Agency, she decided to obtain data to provide a more complete and accurate scientific account of activities. This information was to provide a basis for intervention and dispute system design. O’Leary noted it should be “Built for Diversity” with a balance in decision making. The thesis of her book is that “Guerilla Government” happens all the time. There is manifestation of inevitable tensions between Bureaucracy and Democracy, which never go away. She illustrated that Bureaucratic Politics, Ethics and Organizational Management are all intertwined.

O’Leary provided many specific examples of “Guerilla” intervention and its impact on the final outcome and directed individuals to her recent book “The Ethics of Dissent: Managing Guerilla Government (Public Affairs and Policy Administration)”for 24 separate and distinct examples of Guerilla Government. She found that many “guerillas” work behind the scenes. They obey superiors in public but in private may leak information to the media or ghostwrite letters. These individuals may neglect policies or directives in which they disagree or they fail to implement orders they think unfair.

“Guerilla Government is here to stay,” stated O’Leary. She noted that most public organizations are inadequately equipped to deal effectively with Guerilla Governments. O’Leary provided suggestions to work with Guerilla Governments which include encouraging staff to challenge assumptions and actions of the organization to create multiple channels for dialogue, debate and dissent. “There need to be dissent boundaries and you need to know when to stop. You must understand the formal and informal (i.e., Guerilla Government) organization. Learn to separate the people from the problem and listen.”

In closing, O’Leary suggests that before you consider becoming a “Guerilla,” you must consider that any change may be immediate and permanent. “Your reasoning could be based on safety and health concerns. Clearly, an ethical decision. However, be aware that others may view your choice as insubordinate and with an ulterior motive.”

Dr. O’Leary is a graduate of the University of Kansas and obtained her Ph.D from Syracuse University in Public management, law and public policy, organization theory, administrative and environmental law, environment and natural resource policy and management, as well as dispute resolution. She serves as the Co-Director, Program for the Analysis and Resolution of Conflict, and Senior Research Associate in Syracuse University's Campbell Public Affairs Institute and Center for Environmental Policy and Administration..  O’Leary’s areas of expertise include Public Management, Environmental Policy, Dispute Resolution, and Law.  She is nationally recognized for her teaching, research, and service.
For more information about the Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series, please visit

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sharon Todd: Are Quiltmakers, Scuba Divers, and Outdoor Adventurists Cut from the Same Cloth?

As part of the course requirements for FOR 496/797 Women in Environmental Careers, students share the responsibility for reporting on speakers in ESF’s Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series.   The following was prepared by Corenne Black and Rachel Kaminski.

            On April 10, 2007, Dr. Sharon Todd, Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the State University of New York at Cortland, presented her research, entitled “Cut from the Same Cloth: Quiltmakers, Scuba Divers, and Outdoor Adventurists” at SUNY-ESF. Her presentation was part of the ongoing SUNY-ESF Women in Environmental and Scientific Professions Seminar Series, sponsored by SUNY-ESF and the ESF Women’s Caucus. The presentation focused on the degree of seriousness people apply to certain recreational activities.
Dr. Todd enthusiastically presented her research involving quiltmakers, scuba divers, and outdoor adventurists, which reexamined traditional conceptions about competition in recreation research. Traditionally, studies have presented a linear relationship of competitiveness where initially one competes against the learning the activity, followed by competing against the standards of the activity, then progressing to competing against oneself, and finally to competing with other people. This is commonly represented in terms of beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert. Dr. Todd developed a theory of a nonlinear competitiveness curve incorporating one competing against perfection, which she classified as the “truly elite” and the “over-the-hiller” (i.e., “post expert”). Using her research, which involved surveying quiltmakers, scuba divers, and outdoor adventurists, Dr. Todd was able to show how each of these groups of leisure pursers support her theory of a nonlinear competitiveness curve.
            Dr. Todd also studied for her research the role of leisure constraints on the level of development of quiltmakers, scuba divers, and outdoor adventurists in terms of intrapersonal (i.e., an individual’s personal or psychological constraints), interpersonal (i.e., constraints created by someone else), and structural (i.e., constraints related to environmental, time, money) constraints. These barriers to participating in leisure activities can affect one’s level of competitiveness and can potentially prevent one from progressing through levels of leisure development (e.g., intermediate to advance). Graphing the results of how constraints affect the level of development shows a nonlinear curve and hence supports Dr. Todd’s theory of a nonlinear competitiveness curve as well. So yes, quiltmakers, scuba divers, and outdoor adventurists are cut from the same cloth in terms of their leisure pursuits.
Dr. Sharon Todd received a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.S. in Recreation from Southern Illinois University. She pursued her M.S in Recreation and Parks as well as her Ph.D. in Leisure Studies at Pennsylvania State University. Her academic interests includes social psychology of leisure and outdoor research methods.  She spends her leisure time cross-country skiing, camping, canoeing, and playing field hockey. Currently, Dr. Todd is an Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at SUNY Cortland as well as the Co-Director of SUNY Cortland’s Outdoor Education Practicum.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Can girls be fishermen? A discussion on recreation and gender,

Dr. Diane Kuehn looked at the factor's in people's lives that impacted their participation in sport fishing.  She wanted to know why fishing has declined over the last decade, and why only 12-14% of those that fish are women.  The results of her two-part surveys indicate that there is a significant difference in the starting age of anglers:  males had started at an average age of 7, and all started prior to adulthood; females had started at an average age of 10, and 22% had been introduced to the sport as adults.  Most had learned from their fathers; the adult women were introduced by their partners or spouses.  Grandfathers and uncles were more likely to teach nephews and grandsons than nieces and granddaughters. Kuehn also looked at frequency and opportunity to fish.  In all age groups, females fished less frequently. Their activity was influenced by the support of other family members.  Males, on the other hand, were influenced more by their commitment to the sport.  Socialization during the activity was important to both genders during adolescence, and fishing as a family tradition was very important to girls.  Women were much more focuses on the social aspect of fishing.  While this can be important to men, too, they also cited the sport of it, and men were much more likely to fish by themselves.
Kuehn then inquired of the participants about their favorite outdoor activities, why they enjoy them, and who indoctrinated them.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Climate Change Scientist Speaks in Syracuse

By Diane Kuehn, SUNY-ESF

Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel a Climate Scientist with the Global Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) based in Washington, DC, spoke at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) on Tuesday, March 6 on “Global Warming: The Science behind the Headlines.” The presentation was co-sponsored by the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Initiative of Syracuse University, SUNY-ESF, the ESF Women's Caucus, and the Syracuse University Graduate School.   The presentation was part of SUNY-ESF's Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Speaker Series.

Dr. Ekwurzel began her presentation by discussing climate changes and trends since 1850. Some of the points she mentioned were:
·         7% of the maximum area of frozen ground has decreased since 1900 in the Northern Hemisphere.
·         Satellite data collected since 1978 indicate a 20% reduction in the extent of summer sea ice.
·         Eleven of the last twelve years have been the hottest on record since 1850.

Dr. Ekwurzel discussed the connection between reduced sea ice and snow coverage and the increased average global temperatures. Specifically, since sea ice and snow work to reflect back into the atmosphere about 90% of the sun’s energy, losing ice actually increases heat absorption by the earth.

Why is the snow and sea ice melting? Given the relative stability of the sun’s energy output and of the amount of other particles in the air (such as those from volcanic ash) over time, most of the change appears to be due to increasing amounts of heat-trapping emissions in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, for example, is produced in large quantities by fossil fuel-burning machines and power generation facilities today and, because of its slow absorption by the earth’s oceans (absorption can take anywhere from 50 to 1000 years), accumulates in our atmosphere over time. Methane (average absorption time of 12 years) and nitrous oxide (average absorption time of 114 years) are two of the other heat-trapping gases.

What can we expect in the future in Central New York? Dr. Ekwurzel discussed future changes such as the annual average temperature rising, shorter winters, and a shorter coverage of ice on nearby lakes. She also stated that there will likely be more intense precipitation, both in the winter and during other seasons as well, when storms do occur. Elsewhere in the country, subtropical areas will likely continue to dry out, coastal areas may experience flooding, and urban areas (because of the extensive amount of pavement and buildings) will have amplified summertime temperatures.

What options does our society have for the future? The first option that Dr. Ekwurzel raised is to decrease the amount of longer-lived gases (e.g., carbon dioxide) released into the atmosphere to prevent the buildup of these gases over time. Our society may also need to adapt to climate changes over time by altering the design of our homes or the location of our residences (e.g., away from coastal areas). Finally, Dr. Ekwurzel emphasized the need for new options for the future.

Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel works on the national climate program for the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). She is leading UCS's climate science education work aimed at strengthening support for strong federal climate legislation and sound U.S. climate policies. Prior to joining UCS, Dr. Ekwurzel was on the faculty of the University of Arizona Department of Hydrology and Water Resources with a joint appointment in the Geosciences Department. Her specialty is isotope geochemistry, a tool she has used to study climate variability in places as disparate as the Arctic Ocean and the desert Southwest. She has published on topics that include climate variability and fire, isotopic dating of groundwater, Arctic Ocean tracer oceanography, paleohydrology, and coastal sediment erosion. She has also worked as a hydrologist with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, working with communities to protect groundwater sources. Dr. Ekwurzel completed her doctorate work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and post-doctoral research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Heine Discusses Green Chemistry and Cradle to Cradle Product Design

By Amanda Meyer and Judy Crawford

Dr. Lauren Heine, Director of Applied Science for the GreenBlue Institute, gave a presentation entitled Green Chemistry and Cradle to Cradle Product Design on Tuesday, February 6, 2007 as part of SUNY-ESF's Women in Scientific and Environmental Professions Spring Seminar Series. The Faculties of Chemistry and Paper and Bioprocess Engineering and the ESF Women's Caucus jointly sponsored the event.

Dr. Heine's lecture focused on material health and green chemistry's contribution to it. Material health refers to products that are safe to both humans and the environment during their full life cycle, with a focus on design for safe, productive return to nature or industry. Material health is important because materials can directly and indirectly affect the health of entire ecosystems, as well as humans. After defining material health and its importance, Dr. Heine cited examples of both direct and indirect impacts of bad product design. Dr. Heine then turned her attention to strategies.

The four strategies for material health described by Dr. Heine were Know Your Product (Inventory), Know the Potential Impacts (Impact Assessment), Choose Green Chemical Products and Processes, and Remember the Big Picture. “Knowing your product” means identifying all components and ingredients of the product, ideally down to 100 ppm. This strategy includes requiring full ingredient disclosures and creating lists of suppliers who are either preferred (P-list) or should be avoided (X-list) based on their product components.

“Knowing the Potential Impacts” means preventing harmful consequences by understanding the toxicity, hazard, and risks associated with your materials over their full life cycle. Toxicity refers to the adverse effects of exposure to various agents to living organisms and ecosystems. When assessing toxicity, it is important to keep the dose and the timing of the exposure in mind. Hazards include such things as extreme toxicity to humans and ecosystems, bioaccumulation, and more. Risk equals hazard multiplied by exposure.

 “Choosing Green Chemical Products and Processes” includes selecting safer and healthier alternatives; designing healthy alternatives in collaboration with suppliers; and looking for emerging green chemistries and technologies. Green chemistry is the design of chemical processes and products to reduce and/or eliminate hazardous substances. Dr. Heine outlined twelve principles of green chemistry and provided examples of products and companies using green chemistry.

Dr. Lauren Heine received her doctorate in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University. She is currently the Director of Applied Science at the non-profit institute GreenBlue. Dr. Heine is also directing the development of CleanGredientsTM and the Sustainable Textile Metrics standard. In addition, she consults and publishes on issues relating to green chemistry, alternatives assessment and sustainable material flows.

The next lecture in this series, Global warming:  the science behind the headlines, is scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, and will feature Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, Climate Scientist, Global Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists, Washington, DC.  This visit will also be part of Syracuse University’s Women in Science and Engineering Speaker Series.  For more information, please visit