International Roundtable focuses on global environmental issues

By Yenee Soh

The 16th annual International Roundtable, “Global Environment: The Eleventh Hour?” began on Thursday and will run through Saturday. The roundtable features a series of discussions with academics Robert Costanza, Elizabeth Economy and Shawn Miller, and highlights issues of ecological and environmental concerns, especially in regards to the development, as well as discussing the main global environmental concerns and the forces responsible and what can be done to improve the situation. The forum began with opening statements from Ahmed Samatar, dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship, and President Brian Rosenberg.

Costanza is the Director of the Gund Institute and professor for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. He is co-founder and past-president of the International Society for Ecological Economics, is on the editorial board of eight international academic journals and is the recipient of numerous awards.

“We can break our addiction to fossil fuels, overconsumption and the current development model and create a more sustainable and desirable future,” he wrote in a speech. “It will not be easy, it will require a new vision, new measures, and new institutions. But it is not a sacrifice of quality of life to break this addiction. Quite the contrary, it is a sacrifice not to.”

Costanza suggested several policies to “break our addiction,” including, developing new measures of progress, shifting primary national policy goals and reforming tax systems.

Economy is the C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and Director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has written several books, including a few selected as Cambridge top 50 sustainability books and one of The Globalist’s top ten sustainability books.

Miller is chair of the History department at Brigham Young University and has published articles and books on environmental history.

The roundtable will also feature some of Macalester’s own faculty and students. DeWitt Wallace Professor and chair of Biology Mark Davis, Associate Professor of Economics Sarah West, Liz Larson ’10 and Laura Bartolomei-Hill ’10 are some of the discussants that will engage in the forum.

Bartolomei-Hill ’10 will be responding to Miller’s paper, “Turning the Order of Nature on its Head: The Tropical American Origins of Global Agriculture.”

“I was asked by Professor Samatar last semester to respond to this paper. They were looking for someone who studied environmental history and particularly in Latin America,” she said. Bartolomei-Hill is an Environmental Studies and History double major. She received Miller’s paper in August and read his book, “An Environmental History of Latin America.” She said she hopes that she is prepared but is a bit nervous.

“I’ve studied Latin American petroleum exploitation and oil issues for a while now, and I was hoping that was what he was writing about. And then I got his paper in August and I was like, ah, food! So he talks about global agricultural systems. This is a new project I’ve been learning a lot about.”

Events continue through Friday and Saturday, Friday’s afternoon session, running from 1:30 p.m. through 4 p.m. in the John B. Davis Lecture Hall, centers around Shawn Miller’s paper “Turning the Order of Nature on it’s Head: The Tropical American Origins of Global Agriculture.” Saturday’s session, beginning at 10 a.m. in JBD, includes a roundtable discussion, a question and answer period, and closing remarks. All events are free and open to the public.