Western Reads to hold panels on environmental science ethics and social justice

Professionals from diverse fields will combine their expertise to lead discussions about environmental science ethics and social justice issues as part of Western Washington University’s Fall 2013 Western Reads Program.

The panel discussions are free and open to the public.

Environmental Science and Ethics: 4-5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 in Academic Instructional Center West 204, and 7-8:30 p.m. at Village Books in Fairhaven.

The discussion at Western will be streamed live online.

Panelists will discuss the scientific and ethical issues raised in the book, “Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-Changed North,” by Nancy Lord, this year’s Western Reads selection.


  • Andy Bunn, WWU associate professor of environmental science and director of Western’s Institute for Energy Studies, conducts research focusing on global climate change and energy. Bunn is currently working on the Polaris Project, where researchers and undergraduates travel to the Siberian tundra each summer to conduct research on paleoclimate issues and carbon cycling.
  • Oceanographer and science photographer Chris Linder has documented multiple expeditions and stories of scientists working in the Arctic and Antarctic, and spent nearly two years exploring the polar regions. His images have appeared in “Smithsonian,” “Canadian Geographic,” “Nature’s Best,” “Outdoor Photographer” and “Wired.”
  • WWU Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Grace Wang focuses her research on the human dimensions of natural resource management, cultural resources management and community-based resource management. Wang evaluates in her work how organizations can maintain sustainable human and ecological communities while conservation laws change.

Social Justice: 4-5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24 in Academic Instructional Center West 204, and 7-8:30 p.m. at Village Books in Fairhaven.

Panelists will discuss ethical and moral issues as humans face and react to the impact of climate change on communities, future generations and the Earth itself.


  • WWU Professor of Journalism Sheila Webb researches the cultural role of media in creating community and is particularly interested in how science gets represented in popular contexts, particularly magazines. Webb was named a 2012 Legacy Scholar by the Arthur W. Page Center for Ethics in Public Communication.
  • WWU Professor of Secondary Education Lauren McClanahan conducts research on literacy and education for sustainable development. McClanahan has worked with the Lower Kuskokwim School District of Southwest Alaska, encouraging students to document evidence of climate change in their villages.
  • WWU Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies Gary Bornzin focuses his attention and teaching on helping students address urgent global-scale problems associated with sustainability: human overpopulation, overconsumption, war and violence, inequitable distribution of power, wealth, food and basic resources for living. Bornzin is particularly interested in how to communicate across differences such as culture, religion, politics, language and life experience.

Documentary: “Chasing Ice,” 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Pickford Cinema

“Chasing Ice” is the story of environmental photographer James Balog, who traveled to the Arctic to capture images of the Earth’s changing climate for “National Geographic.” Moved by what he saw, Balog began The Extreme Ice Survey, deploying time-lapse cameras across the Arctic to compile a multi-year record of rapidly disappearing glaciers.

Exhibit: “Vanishing Ice,” Nov. 2 to Mar. 2 at the Whatcom Museum

The battle between the planet’s frozen frontiers and the changing climate that threatens it is manifested in the exhibit “Vanishing Ice” and its 90 works of art. The exhibit traces the impact of glaciers, icebergs and fields of ice in the artists’ imaginations, and the connections between generations of artists over two centuries. Interweaving science, history and art, this exhibition encourages audiences to value alpine and polar environments for the preservation of biological and cultural diversity.

Panel discussions, documentaries and exhibits are open to the public. Western Reads is a campus-wide reading program designed to promote intellectual engagement, community and conversation among new students. Western Reads serves Western’s mission of promoting “Engaged Excellence” by bringing together teaching, scholarship and community service in a liberal arts, student-centered context.

For more information on the Western Reads program, contact Dawn Dietrich, director of Western Reads and Western Washington University professor of English, at Western.Reads@wwu.edu or visit the Western Reads site at http://www.wwu.edu/westernreads/events/fall.shtml#panel1.