Environmental Programs Steering Committee

September 8, 1998

1044 Duncan Hall 3:30-5pm


  • Kathy Ensor
  • Arthur A. Few
  • Paul Harcombe
  • Priscilla Huston (staff)
  • Walter Isle (chair)
  • Donald Ostdiek
  • Mark R. Wiesner
  • Gordon Wittenberg

Not present:

  • Bill Leeman

    1. Biosphere II:

    Rice University can send up to five students per semester to Biosphere II. We have two there now. Last semester a plan was worked out for an Earth Semester that involved 15-16 hours of credit in Earth Science, Ecology, Policy Studies, and Environmental Engineering. Rice faculty can also be invited and they will be put up for two days and receive a modest stipend in exchange for teaching, etc. Faculty who are on sabbatical may also be able to get office space. Walter Isle distributed a few posters and can get more.

    Biosphere II is a campus of Columbia University and 15 other schools including Rice have entered into a "partnership" with Columbia. The faculty who visited last spring were impressed. There are currently 50-75 students a semester in residence. Information can also be found at http://www.bio2.edu

    Several suggested ways to publicize Biosphere were Thresher, Interviews, Website.

    Action Item: Walter will check on the deadlines for applying to biosphere for next semester and we will have an informational meeting for students this fall.


    2. Website:

    Our draft website from Chelsea may be found at http://conbio.rice.edu/RiceEnvironmental/

    Action item: All steering committee members will review and make suggestions for the website and managing it.

    Action item: Priscilla will ask Prentiss Riddle about suggested locations for Riceinfo links to EPSC website.


    3. Next meeting:

    September 22, 1998 at 3:45-5:15pm.

    Action Item: Priscilla Huston will schedule a room, preferably 1044 Duncan Hall.


    4. Orion Society:

    The Orion Society "Forgotten Language Tour" will be in Houston October 1-3:

    October 1 at Rice University (arrive about mid-day)

    October 2 at The University of Houston in the morning and at Citizens Environmental Coalition on Richmond near Kirby in the afternoon and evening

    October 3 : several field trips with the writers will be scheduled.

    The writers will include:

    • Allison Deming
    • Richard Nelson
    • Robert Michael
    • Gary Paul Nabhan
    • Sue Ellen Campbell
    • Janisse Ray

    Walter will bring information on the tour visit to the next meeting.


    5. Budget:

    We have an operating budget, a budget for speakers, and some supplementary funds from the Center for the Study of Cultures. Funds have also been provided by the president and provost for an environmental intern for this academic year. Ryan McMullan will hold the position of intern, will work primarily under the supervision of Paul and Bill, and will report to the committee.


    6. Speakers:

    Several speakers were suggested or have already been contacted in the areas of environmental history and environmental ethics. Steve Hubble will speak about the proposed National Institute for Environment in November. Other suggestions are welcome for the fall and spring semester.


    7. Environmental History:

    We continued our discussion about the importance of a course offering in Environmental History. Randy Hanson taught such a course in the History department last spring and received very good evaluations but things are awkward and the History department has not agreed to offer it again this year. Walter will follow-up on this with the Dean of Humanities and the History Department.


    8. Goals:

    We need to work to implement the recommendations of the Environmental Strategic Planning Committee, toward which end everyone should familiarize themselves with the report of that committee (Mark can provide copies). All efforts this year should be directed toward enhancing the presence of environmental concerns, particularly in the curriculum, at Rice.