packing advice for faculty-led international trips – peru edition.

Our trips generally draw students from across a broad spectrum of travel experience. Some participants have packing down to a science and others have a lot of questions. WorldStrides has provided a sample packing list, but it is very general. These are my guidelines for effective packing for an adventure-filled week abroad.

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relentless resilience.

It’s 2018 and what the environmental movement needs now more than ever is resilience.

As we have seen from across the political spectrum, it’s time to learn a lesson from our opponents and stop playing the moral upper hand. It may make us feel like what we are doing is right, but it doesn’t win the battle.

Too often people who are inclined to care about the environment back down because they encounter opposition and resistance. Quite likely, it is something they didn’t see coming. For a person who has discovered a reason to be concerned about the environment, whether it be from a news story, an experience in nature, their education, or the horrific images that expose the reality of the human impact on the environment, it may come as a shock that not only do people not share their concern, but people may actually scorn them for showing that concern.  Attacking people who care about the world is dirty business, but it is very effective at eliminating those voices from the conversation. It’s effective and it is a strategy that is advocated by the opposition to the environmental movement. Those who are newly initiated to environmental concern are likely surprised when they collide with that brick wall of opposition. It often manifests itself as an attack. It is designed to beat you down.

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nerd day.

I may be several thousand miles away from the school system I had my kids enrolled in, but via social media I am still able to keep up with the annual events.  Not long ago, I was making my way through my Instagram feed when I came upon images from friends who were sending their kids off to the various themed days of Red Ribbon Week, the daily observances of which involve dressing up in various silly ways and learning about drugs. It’s a connection that still baffles me.

If you are not accustomed to this tradition, it is sort of inextricably aligned with Nancy Reagan’s drug free agenda of the 1980s, though it seems to have had its own distinct roots. There is some criticism that this was a period of time when the increased criminalization of drugs was more or less a cover for incarcerating minorities. Beyond that, I have additional reasons for disliking the week.

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bad news.

“Education, I fear, is learning to see one thing by going blind to another.”

~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

 

It’s hard to be an optimist when you work with environmental issues.  That’s the story line that I hear anyway.  It became the basis of such a common question in my environmental science courses – ‘how can you teach this course and not be completely depressed?’ students would ask – that I began to interject empowerment clauses throughout the semester to stop students from becoming despondent.  My final lecture is now a discourse on optimism and possibility and is probably the antithesis of anything you might expect by way of concluding a semester spent groveling in the wastewater of civilization.

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debris.

This has been an intense period of time for me. Half of my family, virtually everyone on my wife’s side, is recovering from the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico.  Two weeks in, they have just gotten running water, but are still without power.  Unless you have spent time in the islands, I don’t think you can fathom trying to sleep amidst the intense heat and humidity without so much as a fan to stir the air and nevermind the mosquitos.  In most places, the vegetation is stripped bare, so there is no longer even shade from trees.  It’s sweltering.

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