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The Center Quarterly
Summer 2011

working towards realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future through scholarship, education, and action...

Haffenreffer Challenge Almost Met!
The Center for Environmental and Sustainability Education is excited to report that, thanks to the continued support of donors, we are now over three-fourths of the way to meeting the challenge set by fundraising hosts, Peter and Mallory Haffenreffer. Our gracious hosts have helped to spark donor participation by issuing the "Haffenreffer Challenge," a pledge to match any donation offered to the Center, up to $10,000. Last year, the Center was able to surpass the goal of $10,000 thanks in part to donations received from its many supporters throughout the community.

As we near our fundraising goal, we urge those who have not contributed to please do so. We hope again to surpass the goal of $10,000 set by the Haffenreffers. For those who have showed their support for the Center, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude. The Center truly appreciates every contribution that it receives. We hope to continue to receive such great support from all our friends, colleagues, and stakeholders. For those who would like to make a contribution, you may send donations to the following address:
Peter Blaze Corcoran
10501 FGCU Boulevard South
Fort Myers, Florida 33965
Make checks payable to CESE/FGCU

A Fond Farewell
Dr. Shepard at the Center's Board Meeting on April 1, 2011
The Center would like to acknowledge the announcement that Dr. Joe Shepard, Vice President for Administrative Services and Finance, has been named President of Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico. Dr. Shepard joined FGCU in 1995, and has served as Vice President for Administrative Services and Finance since 2003. Prior to his appointment as Vice President, he held the positions of Assistant Dean and Dean of Student Affairs. Dr. Shepard is also a founding member of the Center's Board of Advisors and has been a strong advocate of the Center and its mission. 
Although we are sad to lose such a great colleague and friend of the Center, we would like to congratulate Joe and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.   Thank you Vice President Shepard for all your years of service to FGCU! The long-term success of the Center will be part of your legacy of unparalleled support for the University’s mission of environmental sustainability. You will be missed greatly!

Center Enjoys Successful Spring
Spring 2011 proved to be one of the Center's busiest and most successful terms, highlighted by its annual Fundraiser and Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture and Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration.

The lecture took place at Saint Michael and All Angels Church on Friday, April 1, 2011. Guest scholars Akpezi Ogbuigwe of Nigeria and Heila Lotz-Sisitka of South Africa offered an alternative perspective on sustainable development on the African continent.  Ogbuigwe explained how Africa is transitioning toward an improved future that breaks away from its stigma as “the dark continent.” “It is time for the people of Africa to dance to a new tune,” said Ogbuigwe. “It is people that create change for nations and continents, not diamonds, gold, or oil… Africa is an opportunity, and now is the time; this is the generation.”

Lotz-Sisitka shared stories with the audience of the “silent heroes” in Africa. She explained that these silent heroes are “fundamentally changing the nature and form of education.” She described how these individuals are involved in “vida activa” or “the active life,” and though they make such a great impact, they often remain unnoticed and their practices are not fully understood. “The problems (for Africa) are complex, the inequalities are stark, and the transformation path is enormous,” said Sisitka. “But it is through the dedicated work of Africa’s silent heroes that there remains hope for its future."

In addition to hosting the guest scholars from Africa, the Center paid tribute to dear friend Oannes Arthur Pritzker by presenting his family with the highest honor given by the Center. Richard Pritzker accepted the Rachel Carson Award for his brother, Oannes, who passed away last year. Collette Hopkins, a close friend of Oannes and a member of the Center’s board of advisors, presented the award, which was in the form of a conch shell.

Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran also spoke of the loss of two other Native American advisors to the Center since last year’s Lecture: Chief Jake Swamp of the Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation and Deanna Francis, spiritual leader of the Passamaquoddy Nation. “Their passing to the spirit world is a great loss,” said Corcoran. “These chiefs and elders possessed irreplaceable indigenous knowledge, wisdom, and passion for an ethic of sustainability.”

This year's Seventh Annual Fundraising Celebration was a huge success as well for both the Center and its guests, who enjoyed the music of professional harpist Leslie Gregory, the African-themed décor, wine from South Africa, and locally grown food.  Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran stood before supporters and described how the enchanting event was "more than just a party." "This evening is a celebration of community and of shared values for a sustainable future," said Corcoran. "It also embodies the Center's commitment to intergenerational collaboration."

Corcoran then introduced Akpezi Ogbuigwe, who spoke passionately of how we need to fall in love with our world "because when people fall in love, a whole generation is transformed." She then welcomed guests to "fall in love and share in the vision of the Center."  Speaking next were David W. Orr of Oberlin College and Mary Evelyn Tucker of Yale University, both co-chairs of the Centers Board of Advisors. Orr engaged the audience by describing the deep relationship between humans and the natural world as the aim of environmental education. Tucker then spoke about the disasters in Japan, drawing attention to the critical importance of concepts promoted by the Center.

Other accomplishments of this past term include the publication of "This Sense of Awe and Wonder," a compilation of lectures from 2004-2010 taken from our Rachel Carson Distinguished Lecture Series, the production of a TEDxFGCU event featuring Akpezi Ogbuigwe, Heila Lotz-Sisitka, and Mary Evelyn Tucker, and the passing of an e-waste resolution through FGCU Student Government.  The passage of the resolution was a direct result of the research done by FGCU's 2011 Graduate Student of the Year and Center Student Assistant, Jessica Mendes.  Mendes was also able to organize a collection station for electronic recyclables at the FGCU dorms from April 19, 2011 to May 5, 2011.  Jessica's work on e-waste embodies the mission of the Center, to "work toward realizing the dream of a sustainable and peaceful future for Earth through scholarship, education, and action."

Center Keeping Busy During Summer
With the days getting longer and things slowing down in Southwest Florida, the staff at the Center continue to work on finishing up projects and advancing the Center's mission.
Currently, Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran and Editorial Assistants Joseph Weakland and Brandon Hollingshead are collaborating with Dutch colleague Niko Roorda (right) to translate and edit a textbook on the concept of sustainability. Originally written for Dutch-speaking students, the text is being adapted for an international audience. The Center's work includes rewriting and editing a substantial portion of the text. The book proposal was positively received by United Kingdom-based publisher, Earthscan, who has agreed to publish the completed manuscript. Joseph Weakland is taking the lead on the project, and we expect to complete it this summer.
The Center is working with another close colleague from The Netherlands, Arjen Wals (left), to develop a book that explores the intersection of climate change and education. The book will make the case that anthropogenic climate change requires us to rethink the purpose of education. Climate change will function as a unifying principle for a text that will touch on many complex issues related to sustainability and education for sustainable development.

Other projects include establishing an official e-waste policy at FGCU and planning next year's Terry Tempest Williams Student Dialogue.  Jessica Mendes (lower right) is heading up the initiative to establish an official e-waste policy and is currently writing an e-waste policy paper to present to FGCU administrators.  The Student Assistants at the Center have begun discussing next year's student dialogue and are looking at centering the dialogue around the idea of sustainable seafood and ocean conservation.

Farewell to Staff
From left to right beginning in the front row, Jordan Yingling, Michael Verdi, Ariel Chomey, Jessica Mendes, Kendra Carboneau, Joseph Weakland, Peter Blaze Corcoran, and Polina Silvander
Over the years the Center has been blessed with many outstanding staff members and just as others have moved on in the past, so too do five members of this year's staff.  Those staff members moving on include Joseph Weakland, Jessica Mendes, Ariel Chomey, Michael Verdi, and Polina Silvander. 

In Fall 2011, Joseph Weakland will begin pursuing a doctorate in English at the University of Florida.   He is interested in the emerging field of "posthumanism," as well as how literature and other cultural texts respond to the social and ecological changes engendered by emerging technologies.

Jessica Mendes will continue working at the Center until the middle of June and then plans on traveling to South America and backpacking her way through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru until August. Jessica would like to wish the incoming and current student assistants great success with their work at the Center!

Ariel Chomey will begin working on her Masters of Science in Environmental Science at FGCU beginning in August.  In the future she hopes to pursue a career in the
National Park Service as an Interpretive Ranger.

Michael Verdi plans to serve as a corps member for City Year New York.  "City Year corps members serve as tutors, mentors and role models to help students stay on track, and get back on track, to graduate."  He will be working in Brooklyn with students in grades Pre-K through 5.  After fulfilling his commitment Michael then intends on attending graduate school to pursue a Master's Degree.

Polina Silvander will be returning to Russia to continue her education and work toward a college degree.

The Center would like to also take this time to congratulate the staff members who graduated on May 1, 2011.  Those Student Assistants graduating include Jessica Mendes with an MS in Public Administration, Michael Verdi with a BS in Environmental Studies, Ariel Chomey with a BS in Envrionmental Science, and Jordan Yingling with a BS in Athletic Training.  A whole, wide world of opportunities await each of these valued staff members and we wish them all the best of luck in their future endeavors.  It has been a pleasure working together and you should all be proud of the work that you have done here at the Center.  Good luck to you all!
Center Director Peter Blaze Corcoran and President Bradshaw at Spring Commencement May 1, 2011

We welcome you to visit us as:  


Peter Blaze Corcoran, Director
College of Arts & Sciences 
Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Boulevard South
Fort Myers, Florida  33965-6565
Telephone: (239) 590-7166
Facsimile: (239) 590-7200

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