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 Improving Communication of Oil Spill Research
 Science Seminars for Journalists
  Marine Science Seminar (2011)
  Science and Impacts of Toxic Chemicals (2010)
 Annual Public Lecture Series
 News Executives Roundtable
 Public Speaking Events
 National Park Service Media Workshop
 Science Communication and the News Media Workshops
 Science Seminars for News Editors
  Environment Beyond Politics (2004)
  Science Beyond Politics (2003)

Public Speaking Events

2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2001

October 18, 2005
Smoke and Haze on the Science Beat
Charles Petit, Senior Science Writer, U.S. News & World Report
URI Graduate School of Oceanography

Respect for science is high, but in the United States, public understanding and support for scientific research seems to be losing steam. Climate change, security worries, and invasive species are all serious arenas in which culture and ideology are butting heads with scientists trying to gather and interpret data objectively. Petit, a 34-year veteran science reporter for U.S. News & World Report, the San Francisco Chronicle and other news outlets, talks about the future of science reporting and the importance of thorough coverage of science by the press.

Petit's science writing interests focus on astronomy, earth sciences, advanced technologies, archeology, paleontology, evolution, and climate change, and his writing has won numerous awards. He is a former president of the National Association of Science Writers and the Northern California Science Writers Association, has been an instructor at the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley.

This lecture was part of the Metcalf Institute program, Science and the Media: Communicating Natural Resource Issues to the Press.

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October 19, 2005
National Parks and Science: Convergence in the Twenty-First Century
Dr. Michael Soukup, Associate Director, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science, National Park Service
URI Graduate School of Oceanography
Narragansett, RI

The 21st Century presents the National Park Service (NPS) with a number of challenges and opportunities to ensure the future of resource management. The mission of NPS, to manage 388 national treasures with complex natural systems, providing visitor use without resource impairment, is an inherently technical, intellectual and political challenge. The partnership between scientists and translators is a crucial one to the future of resource management as well as the proper presentation of science to the public.

In recent years, NPS has incorporated more science into its programs, a model it plans to follow in the future. Science is critical in determining sound resource policies on fire ecology, coastal erosion, and wildlife management as well as visitor carrying capacity. According to Soukup, plans to make scientific knowledge more accessible include expanding long-term relationships with the media and universities and increasing the number of research learning centers. Park naturalists will also play a pivotal role, as they develop and articulate a "dare to need less," earth-friendly ethic to the public. Accomplishing these goals will make NPS a leader in ecosystems modeling and restoration.

This lecture was part of the Metcalf Institute program, Science and the Media: Communicating Natural Resource Issues to the Press.

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September 19, 2004
The Environment in American Politics and Who Cares?
Roger Kennedy, Director Emeritus, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Brown University
Providence, RI

The American public, according to polls, cares deeply about safeguarding the environment, yet environmental issues are rarely at the top of political agendas. In 2004, environmental issues were conspicuously absent from the national presidential campaign. How has the environment served the purposes of presidential candidates and administrations in the past? Kennedy discusses the role of environment in history and why it matters. Drawing on 50 years in and around politics, he puts some of the questions of the 2004 national political campaign into a longer-term context specifically those questions regarding the environment.

Kennedy is Director Emeritus of the National Museum of American History, former director of the National Park Service during the Clinton administration and advisor on environment to the Kerry and Dean campaigns. Kennedy has served six U.S. presidents on a variety of boards and commissions and as Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretaries of Health, Education, and Welfare and Labor and is author of more than a dozen history books.

Cornelia Dean, senior writer and former Science Editor for The New York Times, introduces Kennedy and leads a discussion following his lecture.

This lecture was part of the Metcalf Institute program, Science Seminar for News Editors: Environment Beyond Politics.

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February 5, 2004
The Beast in the Garden: Wildlife in America's Suburbs
David Baron, Journalist and Author
URI Graduate School of Oceanography

Author and award-winning NPR science correspondent David Baron examines the complex relationship between people and wildlife in America as suburbia sprawls out into wildlife habitat and animal populations spread inward.

His tale focuses on the growing population of mountain lions in suburban Colorado. He chronicles the compelling true story of what happened when mountain lions, rebounding from decades of persecution and bounty hunting, reclaimed their old territories and found homes in what used to be mountain lion habitat. His tale, relevant to New England's problems with deer, coyotes, and bears, reveals the subtle yet powerful ways in which human actions are altering wildlife behavior.

Baron's book, The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature, won the 2003 Colorado Book Award.

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October 27, 2003
Marine Fisheries: Global Trends and Ecosystem Impacts
Dr. Daniel Pauly, Director, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia
URI Graduate School of Oceanography

The world's fisheries are destroying the ecosystems in which they are embedded. The technological advances that brought steam and diesel engines to fishing fleets have not been kind to many fish populations. In addition to these technological advances, over fishing has seen a devastating drop in fish populations. Also problematic is the ability of fishermen to "fish down" to capture species of fish lower on the food chain than the large fish species that prey on them, resulting in a depleted food supply for the larger fish.

Pauly, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and developer of the online encyclopedia, FishBase, offers a historical look at the growth and changes in the global fishing industry and reflects on the long-term forecasts for fisheries that are destroying the ecosystems within which they are embedded.

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October 28, 2001
Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: How Computers Can Help Us Become "Ecological Thinkers"
Dr. Mitchel Resnick, LEGO Papert Associate Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Laboratory
Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol, RI

When people see patterns in the world, a flock of birds, a school of fish, they tend to assume that someone or something is in charge. But, in fact, many systems in the world are decentralized: organized without an organizer, coordinated without a coordinator. To understanding the workings of these systems, we need to change our way of thinking, moving beyond the "centralized mindset" to become "ecological thinkers."

Resnick discusses how computers can help people make this transition. In particular, he describes how pre-college students use computers to create their own models of turtle bales, termite colonies, and traffic jams and, in the process, develop new ways of understanding the world around them.

Resnick develops new technologies and technology-based programs at the MIT Media Lab, including the Virtual Fishtank, the Computer Clubhouse project, and Media Lab's Digital Nations consortium, which uses innovative design and new technologies to help people around the world address social challenges.

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February 25, 2001
Environmental Policy: Will Bush Dismantle What Clinton Built?
Robert B. Semple, Jr., Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times
URI Graduate School of Oceanography

What are the prospects of Bush building on or tearing down Clinton's surprisingly robust environmental record? Semple looks at the political landscape and environmental tone of Washington D.C. during the eight years of the Clinton presidency and offers insight into what we can expect with regards to the environment in Bush's presidency. Specifically, he will look at the point at which Bush is likely to undercut the Clinton record on environmental politics and where he can build upon it.

In 1996, Robert B. Semple, Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Writing for his work on environmental issues and national politics. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has lectured extensively on domestic and foreign policy and the role of the press in shaping the news.

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December 4, 2007