Human ecology conference is big success at WWU

From Sept. 10 to 13, Western hosted the 16th International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology. The event took place in the Viking Union and was attended by roughly 160 participants, including many from abroad. Among the countries represented were Brazil, Australia, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Canada and Mexico.

Environmental Studies associate professor Gene Myers organized and co-chaired the conference. Noting Western’s and Huxley’s historical roles in human ecology, environmental studies and sustainability, Myers delivered an opening address as current president of SHE, focusing on the conference theme of “Integrative Thinking for Complex Futures: Creating Resilience in Human-Nature Systems” and calling attendees to come away more informed, inspired, and networked for the next steps in their work.

President Bruce Shepard addressed the gathering at the locally sourced conference banquet dinner. Lummi Nation elders James and Lutie Hillaire and eight members of their extended family also welcomed those at the feast with word, song, and dance.

Many from WWU went ‘beyond the call’ to help in various essential capacities, many of which also helped lower the conference ecological footprint: Diana Bakkom and Karen Henrikson of Conference Services; Seth Vidana, Office of Sustainability; Carol Berry and Wendy Crandall, Transportation Services; Tim Bartunek, Dining Services/Catering; Nancy Grayum and Gary Malick; Classroom Services / Academic Technology; Dave Ruble, University Housing; Ronni Olson, Parking; Diane Knutson, Dept. Env. Studies; and other faculty, staff, students, spouses and friends who provided ideas and support for planning and carrying out the event.

Many faculty members also donated conference bags for re-use.

Dedicated student volunteer helpers included Stacia Dreyer, Anna Gay, Riley Grant, Bryant Hammond, Jim Harmon, Ken Jussaume, Ben Packard and Cynthia Park. Financial support for the event was provided by Huxley College and by the Environmental Education WWU Foundation fund.

Western was well represented, and a number of faculty members presented papers at the conference.

Among the faculty papers presented:

  • Troy Abel, Huxley College, Participatory Ecological Monitoring: Service-learning and Study Abroad in Costa Rica
  • Andy Bach, Huxley College, Dam Removal for Ecosystem Restoration and Treaty Obligations: The Elwha River, USA
  • Gigi Berardi-Allaway, Huxley College, Fair Trade Olive Oil and Community Resiliency in the Mediterranean
  • Randall Burtz, PEHR, Multiple Methods Toward Understanding: A Triangulated Approach to OHV Research and The Application of Integrative Complexity Theory to the Study of Natural Resource Issues
  • John Korsmo, Human Services, Promoting Prosperity to Address Poverty
  • James Loucky, Anthropology, Social Well-Being Through Ecocultural Principles
  • Scott Miles, Huxley College, Resilience and the Politics of Place
  • Gene Myers, participant on panels discussing Teaching Conservation Psychology, and New Directions in Interdisciplinary and International Education
  • John Tuxill, Fairhaven College, Natural Disasters and Small Farmer Responses in Yucatan, Mexico: Implications for Crop Biodiversity and Rural Food Security

Student participants:

  • M.Ed. Candidate Stacia Dreyer (Huxley College), on Conceptions and Values Regarding Low Impact Environmental Principles: How Environmental Education Students Generalize Across Different Setting.
  • Huxley undergraduate Ken Jussaume took part in a roundtable discussion on New Directions in Interdisciplinary and International Education, to which Anna Gaye and Shannon Roberts also contributed, as well as producing a special Bellingham dining guide for the attendees.

Among WWU faculty who assisted by organizing and moderating paper sessions were:

  • Troy Abel, Huxley College, Structural Human Ecology (Moderator) and Cognition, Choice and Ecological Action (Moderator)
  • Andy Bach, Huxley College, Human Ecology of Water Management (Moderator)
  • Gigi Berardi-Allaway, Huxley College, Community Food Security and Revaluing Agriculture: Towards a Resilient Culture of Food (Organizer), and Communities on Coasts: Tracking Socio-Ecological Resilience (Moderator)
  • Randall Burtz, PEHR, Issues and Advances in Human Ecology Theory (Moderator) and Regulation and Socio-Ecological System Response (Moderator)
  • Rebekah Green, Huxley College, Disasters and Resilience Communities (Organizer & Discussant), and Resource Dependency and Socio-ecological Resilience: Forest and Biodiversity Cases (Moderator)
  • James Loucky, Anthropology, Ethics and Justice (Organizer). Many of those mentioned above also served on the local organizing committee.