Unity Fishbowl Talks

Unity Fishbowl Talks

Unity Fishbowl TalksUnity Fishbowl Talks is a colloquium series for Unity College faculty and invited outside speakers to discuss ideas on pedagogy and to present their scholarly work. These discussions and presentations address the need for a trans-disciplinary forum for teaching efforts at Unity College and also provide an interdisciplinary forum for discussions on research. It is at this intersection of teaching and research goals where speakers can make the most impact on Unity College students. 

Attendance is highly encouraged, with most Fishbowl events occurring during community time on the second Thursday at noon or the third Tuesday at 11:00 am. The events take place in PW 204 and unless otherwise noted, include free lunch and a coffee discussion in the Student Center immediately after each presentation.

Fishbowl is generously sponsored by the Teaching Discussion Group and the Office of the President.

Fall 2014 Fishbowl Schedule

Thursday, Sept 11, 12:00 – 12:30 PW 204
Alex Bjork, Manager, Agriculture Supply Chains, World Wildlife Fund    

Freezing the Footprint of Food: Feeding the planet and protecting biodiversity 

About the talk: Agriculture currently occupies over 40% of Earth’s land area and consumes 70% of available freshwater.  Growth of the human population, projected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, and economic development in many emerging markets such as Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia will require food production to increase 70% beyond current levels. Additionally, there is an increasing reliance on agriculture to provide not only food and fiber for this growing population, but energy and renewable materials such as plant-based packaging materials.  Put simply, we rely on agriculture to provide many of our basic needs. 

As a result of these trends the pressure to convert natural land cover to agriculture will increase.  Similarly, levels of food security, malnutrition, and food emergencies are on the rise as weather events and social and economic disruptions reduce food availability. Overlay these realities with the potential effects of climate change on agricultural production and it is clear that a period of demand-driven agriculture has begun, marked by uncertainty, with land and water as scarce resources.

Learn how WWF is working to freeze the footprint of food in order to feed a growing global population without increasing the land and other inputs used and in the process protect the Earth’s remaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. 

About Alex: Alex is a member of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) food and agriculture team.  He helps WWF achieve its conservation mission by working with the private sector to develop more sustainable supply chains.  Since joining WWF in 2009 he has helped launch the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to set standards for sustainable beef production, developed an environmental and social risk assessment tool for use in international agro-commodity finance, and worked with several multinational companies on sustainable sourcing strategies.

Alex has a B.A. (History) from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN and an M.B.A. (International Business) and M.A. (Global Finance & Trade) from the University of Denver.  Prior to attending graduate school and joining WWF, Alex worked in education as a classroom teacher and community resource director.  He and his wife Amber enjoy reading, sports, the outdoors, and traveling as often as they can. 


Thursday, Sept 11, 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM  - Koons Hall 203 
Keith Schneider, reporter for Circle of Blue and the New York Times

Reporting the global water crisis:  A talk with Keith Schneider

About the Speaker: A  nationally known journalist and policy strategist, Keith Schneider is one of the leaders in the United States of a new dimension in public interest communications made possible by online technology, multi-media storytelling, civic participation, and economic and environmental urgency. His work is constructed from the raw materials of a novel 21st century approach to information gathering and dissemination that integrates traditional journalism and science with open-source data management, collaborative public interest partnerships, and communications design.

Keith is a regular contributor to the New York Times, where he was a national correspondent from 1985 to 1995 and reported on new developments in agriculture, environment, natural resources, energy, and transportation. His work has been recognized with numerous honors, including two George Polk Awards for environmental and national reporting, among the most prestigious in American journalism. Earlier in his career Keith won his first Polk Award for reporting in the NRDC's Amicus Journal on the consequences of an environmental laboratory scandal that prompted market withdrawals of hundreds of dangerous farm chemicals.

Keith’s work to merge journalism with public interest communications began in 1995 when he left daily reporting to found the Michigan Land Use Institute, a statewide research and policy organization where he was the executive director, and later served until September 2007 as editor, director of program development, and deputy director. 

Keith has also served as senior editor and producer of Circle of Blue, an independent non-profit news organization that covers the global fresh water crisis from its base in Traverse City, Michigan. He contributes to Grist Magazine, Yale Environment 360, Circle of Blue, MLUI.org, and the USCAN Web site.


Dr. Carrie EatonThursday, Sept 25, 12:00 –12:30 
Carrie Diaz Eaton 

QUBES: connecting mathematicians and biologists

QUBES, which stands for Quantitative Undergraduate Biology Education and Synthesis, is an NSF Research Coordination Network in Undergraduate Biology Education (RCN-UBE) and was recently awarded a five-year grant from the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program at the National Science Foundation.  QUBES aims to bring stakeholders together in biology and mathematics to improve learning opportunities for all students enrolled in undergraduate biology courses by reflecting the centrality of quantitative approaches in modern biology.  Come hear about the new projects Dr. Carrie Diaz Eaton and Dr. Jennifer Cartier of Unity College are pursuing in QUBES, who is currently in on the action, and how to get involved.





Thursday, Oct 8, 12:00-12:30 
Stephanie Wade and Tom Mullin
CBL Fusion, with opening remarks by John Zavodny






Tuesday, Oct 21, 11:00-12:00
Brian Olsen, Assistant Professor of Biology, University of Maine
Evolutionary Succession







The Deep Tour - Porter FoxFriday, October 24, 11:00 - 11:30

Deep: The story of skiing and the future of snow.  A special Adventure Programs Fishbowl Presentation with Porter Fox.

About the event: This talk is about the sport of skiing, the miracle of snow and how climate change could wipe out both in the next 75 years. For the seven million skiers in America who dedicate their winters to tracking storms and waking up at dawn to catch the first chairlift, the lifestyle change will be radical. It will likely be far worse for the rest of the world. Fox uses primary interviews and evidence, mixed with groundbreaking scientific studies, to explain exactly how and when the Great Melt will play out—and the tremendous groundswell that is rising up to stop it. DEEP provides firsthand accounts from skiers and scientists who are mapping a way to mitigate climate change, reduce human impact on our planet and repair the water cycle. As it turns out, their efforts to save snow and ice might end up saving the world.

About the Speaker: Porter Fox grew up skiing in northern Maine and graduated in 1994 from Middlebury College, where he ski patrolled for the Middlebury Snow Bowl and sold season passes for Mad River Glen. After college, he moved to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he worked for the Jackson Hole News and Daily News. There, Fox co-founded backcountry ski and snowboard ’zine The Pass. In 1999 he was hired as the senior editor of Powder Magazine. He has since skied on five continents and written more than 50 features for the magazine.

Since 2002 Fox has lived in Brooklyn, New York, and worked as the features editor for Powder. He earned an MFA in creative writing from The New School in 2004 and has published fiction, essays and nonfiction in The New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Outside, Men’s Journal, National Geographic Adventure, Narrative, The Literary Review and Third Coast, among others. He has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing and nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize.

More info: 
Recent article by Porter in the NYTimes
Press release about tour


Thursday, Oct 30, 12:00–12:30
Stephanie Wade and Christa Straub
Allen Island and the Environmental Citizen






Tuesday, Nov 18, 11:00-12:00
Michael Evans







Steve Kahl
Syncing Operational Sustainability with Sustainability Science at Unity College

About the Talk: Unity College was the first college in the US to divest its endowment from fossil fuels.  To be consistent with our core educational focus of Sustainability Science, our next focus is on divesting our campus infrastructure from fossil fuels.  We have a net-zero energy President’s home, a passively heated 10 student residence hall that costs $200 to heat and will be net-zero energy in the near future, a new net-zero carbon 70 student residence hall, a solar photo-voltaic power purchase agreement on our library that generates 42,000 KWH/year, and five biomass boilers that eliminate reliance on fossil fuels.  These initiatives are consistent with the strategic plan approved by the trustees to become carbon neutral by 2019. This presentation will highlight these successful initiatives and outline the strategies for achieving net zero carbon in five years. -  Steve's talk is sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and the Office of the President.