Environmental Programs Steering Committee

February 18, 1999

2014 Duncan 9:15-11am


  • Joyce Almaguer
  • Kathy Ensor
  • Arthur Few
  • Paul Harcombe
  • Priscilla Huston (staff)
  • Walter Isle (chair)
  • Bill Leeman
  • Donald Ostdiek
  • Gordon Wittenberg

Not Present:

  • Kathy Ensor
  • Mark Wiesner


1. Next Meeting dates

The next meeting is February 23rd 10:30am-11:45am in 1003 Duncan Hall. Deans Matthews and Burrus will join us. The next committee meeting will be the following Thursday, March 4th from 9:15-11am in 2014 Duncan Hall.

2. Biosphere 2

Tony Burgess, Ph.D, Site Naturalist/Biome Management Coordinator, for Biosphere 2 will be on campus approximately March 16-19. He will bring the Biosphere 2 Director of Recruiting as well. We will invite him to participate in the Reading Group at noon on the 17th and the Steering Committee Meeting at 9:15am on the 18th. Paul Harcombe will look into arranging at EEB colloquium during his visit.

Mary Derr reports that her experience at Biosphere 2 has been great. She is working on Methane emissions in the rainforest.

Priscilla Huston will check to see if any of the Rice students who are currently at Biosphere 2 will be in Houston during Tony Burgess' visit. She will also check with Alesha Herrara who was at Biosphere 2 last summer.

3. Notices

Walter Isle reported that Scott Slovic from the University of Nevada Center for Humanities and the Environment can come around March 29th. Walter Isle will look into March 30th or the following week on April 5th. Scott Slovic must arrange to be here early in the week.

Norman Meyers will be here March 26th. Paul Harcombe will coordinate his visit the morning of the 26th along with Arthur Few and Bill Leeman.

NCAR has paid for Firor's travel leaving us these funds for something else.

The Continuing Studies class began this week with Stephen Klineberg. It is meeting Monday nights in Physics 212.

4. Planning for Meeting with Deans of Engineering and Natural Sciences

Arthur Few and Bill Leeman provided draft handouts for their presentations on February 23rd. Some very useful discussions evolved. Although I have tried to capture some pieces of this below, I am certain that the important parts will be further enhanced before the presentations on the 23rd.

  • Rice can develop an Ecological worldview, focus on future impacts and make a difference. Consider areas such as Greater Houston and Galveston Bay; build on programs of others such as HARC and Houston Foresight Program; find niches where we fit in. We noted that very little information is available on Houston air quality and therefore few have been able to study its impact on health issues.
  • Consider a conference such as:"What effect does the air we breathe have on our health." We have a lot of expertize and resources to build a Houston Community team to construct models. These could feed into regional planning and policy, architecture, etc.
  • It is important to remember how broad the faculty involvement in Environmental Programs is and that this committee is just representative. However, issues of sustainability and lack of support for faculty involvement outside their departments are real.
  • Think local; Impact global.
  • Look at worldclass research issues. Who is doing the most good for the most people? Is it the place or the technique that is worldclass. Many world class researchers do their work in non-local areas.

5. Slightly Revised Agenda 

I. Why the Deans should want to be involved (Mark Wiesner)

II. Brief History of environmental initiatives and the strategic plan (Mark Wiesner)

III. Institutional Initiatives (Mark Wiesner)

IV. Specific Possibilities (Bill Leeman)

V. Tie in with Social Sciences (Don Ostdiek)

VI. Tie in with Humanities (Walter Isle)

VII. Summary (Arthur Few)

VIII. Opportunity for Rice to take lead (Walter Isle)

XI. Discussion with Deans