Aerial view of University of Utah campus and mountains in the winter.

GCSC seminars: spring 2021 sneak peak

By Maria Archibald, Sustainability Office

 

The Global Change & Sustainability Center (GCSC) kicks off its spring 2021 seminar series on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Brenda Bowen, director of the GCSC, encourages everyone—students, staff, faculty, and community members alike—to tune in.

The 2021 spring series features a different speaker on every Tuesday of the spring semester. All seminars are free and will take place online.

Bowen explains that the increased frequency of the spring seminars is due, in part, to the GCSC’s desire to provide opportunities for connection and engagement in the online world. “We just don’t get to see our community the same way right now with everyone working remotely,” Bowen says. “This is really one of the main ways we’re connecting with students, with faculty, and with the community.”

Speakers will include professors and alumni from the U, as well as researchers and academics from across the country. “We have Steve Burian kicking off the seminar series,” Bowen says. “He’s been an associate director of the Global Change & Sustainability Center since its inception, and is just concluding a really exciting project where he’s been working with USAID on water sustainability globally.” On Tuesday, Feb. 2, Burian will give the first GCSC talk of the semester, “Catalyzing Higher Education Capacity to Advance Water Security in Pakistan.”

The spring seminar series was designed to reflect the importance of justice, resilience, and wellness in sustainability work, and to draw connections between sustainability and current, pressing issues, says Bowen. With COVID-19 weighing on the minds of Utahns, for example, the GCSC specifically sought an expert to speak on the connection between global change, viruses, disease, and land-use decisions.

Other talks will examine how social factors influence health, explore strategies for inclusive community engagement, share research and practices for urban resilience, discuss sustainable development in the aftermath of COVID-19, and much more.

“What’s exciting is that all of [the talks] build on each other and you learn a little bit about something different in each one,” Bowen says. “The whole point is to come learn something new.”

Bowen encourages graduate students to sign up for the one-credit GCSC seminar course and hopes that community members will tune in every Tuesday at 4 p.m. “You’re going to get every perspective,” she says. “The artistic perspective, a justice perspective, a biophysical science perspective, a policy perspective, built infrastructure…we’re going to come at it from all these different viewpoints.”

While each speaker comes from a different background and expertise, their talks fit together and tell a story over the course of the semester. “They weave together into this complex world of sustainability,” Bowen says.

Join us for Steve Burian’s seminar on water security on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 4 p.m., and learn more about the upcoming seminar speakers and topics.