This past week has been a week of action — we are finally beginning to use the tools we have been learning about for the past few months! In lab this week, each group decided on an object of concern to research. My group decided to focus on “wilderness,” which is the object associated with the Federation of the Western Outdoors Clubs (FWOC). Unlike many of the other objects of concern that are open to any kind of project, we already have our work cut out for us. The former president of the company, who also used to be the executive director of the Sierra Club, requested Lewis & Clark students to help revitalize the somewhat dated organization. As a result, my lab group and I began researching FWOC and brainstorming ideas for gathering relevant data. From the information we gathered, we decided that it would be beneficial to perform a social network analysis on FWOC and its affiliates to figure out who is connected and who isn’t. We also think it would be beneficial to gather data on the demographics of the participants, and synthesize that data in SPSS. From there, communicating these results in a GIS map would visually and spatially represent our findings.
These proposed methods are our initial plan, but we also have an interview scheduled with Michael McCloskey himself. Hopefully we will garner some more information about what his vision for the organization is and what his expectations are for this project. Working together, I am confident that we will be able to create a project that is helpful and meaningful to both parties involved. We will take care of the data and methods, while ENVS 330 will tackle more of the evaluative and instrumental aspects of this project in the spring.
On Thursday, we were able to put all our environmental analysis skills to the test — literally. We had a midterm that dealt with a current event surrounding a dam controversy in France. We were asked to give the French government advice from our experience in ENVS 220 environmental analysis, and I realized how much more prepared I am to deal with these things than I was just a few months ago! Instead of being shocked/frozen/apathetic about the complexity of the issue, I was able to step back, zoom out, apply the tools that I have acquired, then zoom back into the situated setting and give more specific advice. Basically we are now prepared to systematically save the world! Well, maybe not to that scale, but we should at least open an ENVS 220 consulting firm for the greater good.
Finally, on Tuesday we discussed sustainability in class after reading four different articles. Many of them dealt with how overused the term “sustainability” is, and how in order to actually achieve anything related to sustainability, we must redefine it in more specific terms. One article, written by Jim, discussed how sustainability relates to college campuses. I thought this was particularly interesting because that same night I attended a meeting for students interested in sustainability on campus. We talked about various projects to carry out on campus, including a collection of all recycled cups turned into a demonstrative sculpture. After this meeting, I thought all these ideas were great because they took a huge problem and made an executable project out of it. Jim’s article, though, made me realize that this technique might be a little dated, and that students should be doing more than these old methods founded in the 70s.
This next month of ENVS 220 will be fast paced and exciting because we have to think of and execute a project in the course of about three weeks, but definitely worthwhile because we will be able to use everything we have been learning and apply it to a real-world project. Stay tuned for more updates!