CORVALLIS - Seven prominent scientists, authors, communicators and other experts who can provide insights about the real-world use and misuse of science will discuss topics ranging from fisheries protection to global climate change in a series of public lectures this fall at Oregon State University.
The speakers are coming to OSU as part of a zoology course titled "Environmental Controversies," and each will make a free public lecture in addition to their involvement with that student educational effort. A $110,000 grant from the California-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation was used in part to fund this lecture series.
"Each of these experts has been intimately involved in one or more high-profile controversies in the last few years," said Jane Lubchenco, Distinguished Professor of Zoology at OSU. "They will bring different perspectives to our program, such as scientific, news media, industrial, environmental advocacy and legal. We're fortunate that the speakers will also be able to interact with the wider community."
The lecture series, Lubchenco said, was actually the inspiration of OSU graduate students.
"Our students came to us and said they wanted to learn more about how science is actually used, perceived and portrayed in the real world," Lubchenco said. "They wanted to see the action behind the scenes, and we think this group of speakers can provide that."
The lectures will be from 7-9 p.m. at varying locations. They will also be videotaped and copies placed on reserve at OSU's Valley Library.
The speakers, lecture locations and their topics include:
- Nov. 4: JoAnn Burkholder, associate professor of aquatic ecology and marine sciences in the Department of Botany at North Carolina State University, speaking in Gilfillan Auditorium on the topic "Red Tides and Harmful Algal Blooms: Are We Responsible for Their Increased Frequency?" The lecture explores connections between nutrient pollution, water quality, human health, fisheries and tourism, including a discussion of East Coast outbreaks of Pfiesteria piscicida, a toxic dinoflagellate dubbed the "Cell from Hell."
- Nov. 5: George M. Woodwell, president and founder of the Woods Hole Research Center, speaking in Milam Auditorium on the topic "Reason and Unreason in Science and Politics: Keeping the Heat on Governments to Cool the Earth." The lecture will advocate the need to not just stabilize greenhouse emissions at some modestly reduced level, but seek composition of the atmosphere at a level below the present level, which would require a 50 percent global reduction in the use of fossil fuels immediately and the cessation of further deforestation globally.
- Nov. 18: David Fenton, president of Fenton Communications, a Washington, D.C., public relations firm, speaking in Gilfillan Auditorium on the topic "How Corporate Public Relations Affects Media Coverage of Science." The lecture will examine major economic interests that succeed, through public relations and lobbying, in distorting media coverage of scientific issues, with examples from debates over alar, silicone breast implants, and global climate change.
- Nov. 19: David S. Wilcove, senior ecologist with the Environmental Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., speaking in Milam Auditorium on the topic "The Science and Politics of the Endangered Species Act." The lecture will explore where endangered species occur, the types of threats they face, and even some aspects of the Endangered Species Act that contribute to its failure to more successfully improve species survival.
- Nov. 25: Nat Bingham, habitat director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Associations, speaking in Gilfillan Auditorium on the topic "Restoring a Fishery: Commercial Salmon Fishermen's Involvement in Habitat Protection and Restoration." The lecture will examine the efforts of commercial fishermen to restore their fishery by becoming active advocates for protection of freshwater aquatic habitat, and who have taxed themselves to create a broad habitat restoration program.
- Dec. 2: Ross Gelbspan, journalist and author, speaking in Milam Auditorium on the topic "The High Stakes Battle Over Earth's Threatened Climate." The lecture will explore the various bodies of evidence of climate change, the tactics employed by industry to disguise that reality, and one approach that could begin to stabilize the global climate and heal the widening economic gap between rich and poor nations.
- Dec. 3: Doug Hopkins, senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund and manager of the EDF Oceans Program, speaking in Cordley Hall, Room 1109, on the topic "New Ideas for Managing Marine Fisheries for a Sustainable Future: Theory, Practice and Politics." The lecture will discuss new economic incentive concepts that hold promise to reverse the downward spiral of marine fisheries while being sensitive to the needs and vulnerabilities of coastal fishing communities.