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Catalyst Newsletter

Catalyst 42 - November 2013

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Sustainability News

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Read news articles published over the past month.

NOAA is underway at Indiana University 


Oct 3, 2013 -- Indiana University has received a five year, $6 million award to expand its operation of N-Wave, the science network for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA is the federal agency that works to understand the entire Earth system, including complex interactions between the ocean and atmosphere that produce weather and climate. Research and continual improvements to mathematical models contribute directly to more accurate weather forecasts, pinpointed severe storm warnings, and more complete climate understanding and prediction.

Since 2010, network engineers, software developers and service desk technicians at the IU Global Research Network Operations Center--located in the Cyberinfrastructure Building at IU Bloomington...

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Climate Change measures bring benefits and risks

Oct. 31, 2013 -- An emerging method to store global-warming carbon dioxide underground faces challenges in gaining public acceptance, especially when the global benefits carry localized costs, a new study co-authored by Indiana Univeristy researchers confirms.

climate change

The study on the public acceptance of carbon capture and storage in Indiana, a heavily coal-reliant state, shows that capturing carbon emissions and injecting them underground for long-term storage is supported by 80 percent of the population, but about 20 percent of the initial supporters disapprove of the use of the technology if the carbon storage facility would be built close to their homes and communities. Thus, one-fifth of the initial supporters exhibit a "NIMBY" or "not in my back yard" response to the technology.

The research was led by Rachel Krause from the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas, in collaboration with Sanya Carley, David Warren and John Graha, all from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington...

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Three finalists for executive director of IU's Ostrom Workshop to visit campus

Nov. 6, 2013 -- The Office of the Vice Provost for Research at IU Bloomington has announced three finalists in the search for a new executive director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis. Finalists will visit the campus in Novemeber and December to make public presentations and meet with faculty, staff and students.

Finalists for the position were identified by a search committee made up of senior faculty from across the Bloomington campus and chaired by Vice Provost for Research Sarita Soni. The finalists and their campus visit dates are...

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City of Bloomington Provides Free Electronics Recycling

Oct. 28, 2013 -- The City of Bloomington Sanitation Department, in partnership with Vintage Tech Recyclers, will host another Electronics Recycling program. The City invities residents of Bloomington and surrounding communities to dispose of unwanted electronics for recycling on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Please bring your items to the Sanitation Garage, located at 3406 S. Walnut St., just north of the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter.

"We are very excited to again be teaming up with Vintage Tech in an attempt to provide the community with the much-needed service of responsible electronics recycling," said Shelby Walker, the City's Sanitation Director. 

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Climate change threatens North American turtle habitat

Oct. 10, 2013 -- Although a turlte's home may be on its back, some North American turtles face an uncertain future as a warming climate threatens to reduce their suitable habitat.

A new study by an Indiana University Bloomington paleontologist and colleagues in Tennessee and Germany reconstructs the effects of past climatic changes on 59 species of North American turtles. It finds that the centers of the turtles' ranges shifted an average of 45 miles for each degree of warming or cooling. While some species were able to find widespread suitable climate, other species, many of which today are endangered, were left with only minimal habitat.

Species in temperate forests and grasslands, desers and lake systems, primarily in the Central and Eastern U.S., were more affected by climate change than species occuring along the Pacific Coast, in the mountain highlands of the Western U.S. and Mexico and in the tropics, according to thte study published Tuesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Tavis Smiley Scholarships awarded to students at IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Nov.1, 2013 -- Scholarships established by broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley have been awarded to five Indiana University students whose interests range from Africa to the Indiana Dunes.

All five are students at the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs, which counts Smiley among its most distinguished alumni. This is the fifth year that scholarships of $4.500 have been awarded in Smiley's name to SPEA students intent on effecting social change. The scholarships assist students of color, students from diverse cultures and women in achieving their educational goals.

"I am proud of these woman and their accomplishments and know they're getting a superb education at SPEA," Smiley said. "They have the tenacity and smarts to make a world of difference, and I'm grateful for this opportunity to help them toward that goal."

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The Charming Gardeners

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By Bill Brown, IU Office of Sustainability Director

Painted leaves falling through crisp clear air signal the approaching holidays and the end of another calendar year. It's a good time to offer gratitude for those who make sustainability flourish year-round. As Marcel Proust said, "let us be grateful  to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom."

The cornucopia of sustainability at Indiana University Bloomington relies on thousands of charming gardeners from all walks of campus and community life. We will be able to formally celebrate a few of them this week at the Campus Cataylst Awards, Wednesday, at 7 pm, at the Grand hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center.

sunflowerLeast recognized are those who simply live and work with awareness of their impact and pause to consider how to maximize quality and delight, while minimizing waste. They inhabit campus and community with a grace that elevates everyone. Most of these humble gardeners won't receive awards or recognition of any kind and I may never meet them, but they make me happy. These are the heroes who turn out the lights on their way out and stoop to pick up a piece of litter as they walk mindfully across campus. They volunteer to help plant trees, teach students their sustainability science, or choose more active ways to get to campus and leave their cars behind. Thank you, for tending the garden.

Forty Green Teams in buildings all over campus have organized to make their unique place on campus part of the solution instead of part of the problem. These informal groups of faculty, staff and students work together in their own ways and discover wonderful solutions we could never imagine. They pollinate the sustainability garden.

The two-dozen student organizations represented on the Student Sustainability Council add their ideas, voices, funding, and volunteers to advance key sustainability initiatives in their own special way. Like the sun, their energy seems limitless. Thank you for illuminating, turning, fertilizing and seeding the bare spots, leaving verdant legacies in your path.

A key group of 40 volunteer leaders serve on the Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee and over a hundred more on the Working Groups, committees, and steering groups. Some mentor interns, some lead meetings, some teach us about fund development or curriculum development, and others connect us to their realm of influence. Some are idea people, some are doers, and all care enough about a thriving future to get involved. Thank you, for planting, watering, and weeding our fertile garden.

Over 200 of the best and brightest students at IU have worked as our paid sustainability interns, usually 18 at a time, in two groups per year. They are at the core of what we do, providing the intellectual horsepower to turn the soil. They research, invent, collaborate, lead and implement most of the sustainability initatives of the office. Then they graduate with new skills and insight and plant new gardens wherever they go. Thank you, for making our souls blossom.

Provost Lauren Robel and Vice President Tom Morrison, to whom our office reports, support our efforts with funding, advice, connections, and E-House - our home office. In spite of their impossible schedules, they show up for our special events and make time to meet with our other charming gardeners. Thank you, for giving us access to this hallowed ground and helping this garden to grow.

Assistant Director Emilie Rex somehow keeps all of these forces of nature, and me, synchronized in a happy and productive harmony toward a common purpose. In addition to managing the sustainability interns, she coaches a small but gifted office staff of part-time hourly employees, Cox Scholars, SPEA Service Corps Fellows and a service-learning ACE. Together, this dynamic team yields more fruit than could be reasonably expected. To Emilie, Linda Graff, Anna Will, Raija Bushnell, Dana Schroeder, and Celia Daniels, a soulful thank you, for being the master charming gardeners.

Catalysts for Change

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Developing and Supporting Curricular and Co-Curricular Sustainability Initatives - Tom Evans

By Anna Will, Communications Specialist

Tom Evans is a professor in the Department of Geography. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina in 1998 and joined the faculty at IU in 1999. He studies interactions between humans and the environment, agricultural decision making, and water governance. In addition to his faculty position, Tom serves as the co-director for the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and the director for the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population and Environmental Change (CIPEC). Tom's contributions to the sustainability initiative at IU are numerous. He served as the Academic Initiatives Working Group co-chair until 2012 and now serves as the representative for the Office of the Vice Provost for Research on the Campus Sustainability Advisory Board.

Tom Evans

tom evans

  • How long have you been here at IU?

    • I have been at IU for 15 years.
  • What are your hobbies?
    • I enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, cycling, and running.
  • Where is your favorite spot in Bloomington?
    • This is a secret.
  • What does sustainability mean to you?
    • Understanding the environmental impact of human behavior and how environmental conditions and constraints affect human welfare.
  • What role do you play in supporting sustainability initiatives at IU?
    • I incorporate concepts of sustainability into my courses, whether those courses are overtly focused on sustainability (i.e. Sustainable Development) or are methodological (i.e. Geographic Information Systems). I've worked with colleagues to develop what we hope will be a new degree program in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. And I work with students and facutly for the Study Institutions, Population and Environmental change, the Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis and the Integrated Program in the Environment on research related to food/water security in Africa.
  • What do you see as the biggest challenge for sustainability at IU?
    • Reaching new students and bringing those who aren't already part of the "choir" into the fold.
  • How do you practice sustainability in your daily life?
    • I walk/bike 99% of the time and I listen carefully to all advice from the power duo of Jacqui Bauer (City of Bloomington Sustainability Coordinator) and Emilie Rex (IU Office of Sustainability Assistant Director). 
  • What is your favorite green tip?
    • Seal your house - old houses like those we have in Bloomington are notoriously drafty. If you live in a rental and pay the heating bill, ask your landlord about splitting the labor (you) and cost (landlord) of weatherization improvements (insulation, storm windows)!

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Campus Catalysts and Energy Challenge Awards
  • Join us on November 13th as we celebrate the individuals who have made significant strides in IU sustainability as well as our winners of the Fall 2013 Energy Challenge. The Energy Challenge awards ceremony will be held at 6:30 pm in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center lobby with the CCA awards ceremony following in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center's Grand Hall at 7pm. If you would like to attend, please register on our webpage.