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Summit to Address "Greening" of Tulane

November 10, 2004

Heather Heilman
Phone: (504) 865-5714

hheilman@tulane.edu

What would it take to make Tulane an environmentally excellent university? Liz Davey isn't sure, but she thinks many of the essential ingredients are already in place.

davey"We have such a competitive advantage," said Davey, Tulane's program manager in environmental affairs. "We have exactly the schools and specialties we need to understand environmental change and design solutions."

Tulane's environmental law program is recognized as one of the best in the nation.

And there are many other programs, centers, departments and projects throughout the university that focus on the environment in one way or another.

Students study environmental science, environmental policy, environmental engineering and environmental health sciences.

In every school in the university, professors address environmental issues in classrooms and in their research. Much of that work is facilitated by the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research. And in recent years the university has instituted a recycling program and efforts to make Tulane more energy efficient.

On top of it all, Tulane is located in one of the most environmentally fragile areas of the country. The surroundings serve as a natural classroom and laboratory for students and researchers. Davey and John McLachlan, director of the CBR, would like to see Tulane become the first choice of students interested in the envronment and the preferred venue of environmental researchers.

As a step toward that goal, they're planning an "environmental summit" designed to bring together everyone involved in environmental work at Tulane for a brainstorming session. The event is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 12.

"It can be so hard to reach beyond your department. It takes extra effort," said Davey. "We want to give people a chance to meet and talk with each other."

The meeting will be facilitated by Brian Rosborough, founder and former executive director of Earthwatch, an organization that promotes environmental research, education and conservation. He's currently a visiting scholar at the CBR and the father of a Tulane sophomore.

"He's really on the interface of business and ecology, and he's one of the most articulate, charismatic speakers I've ever heard," McLachlan said.

McLachlan wants to discuss issues such as what might be missing from Tulane's environmental package, what kind of environmental education students will need in the future, what kinds of collaborative opportunities are not yet being fully realized, and how the university can truly "walk the walk" by integrating energy-saving measures and green architecture into its growth and development. He hopes to develop a 10-year road map to environmental excellence at Tulane.

"We already have a lot of expertise and interest across the board. We should be able to leverage that strength through cooperation and collaboration to become the preeminent environmental university," he said. The field is open, according to Davey. While several liberal arts colleges have made the environment a primary focus, no large research university has yet established itself as environmentally superior across the board. "I don't think anyone's systematically looked at who's really doing the best or even what the criteria should be," she said.

Information about current environmental programs at Tulane can be found at green.tulane.edu. Students in the Tulane Green Club produce the Enviro Counter-Culture Catalog, which contains information about environmental programs and classes at Tulane and the professors who teach them. Copies are available in Alcee Fortier Hall.

While the meeting is open to any interested member of the faculty and staff as well as students, space is limited and those who wish to participate should contact Davey at ldavey@tulane.edu.

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