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Western’s School of Environment & Sustainability’s Spring Symposium

April 3, 2018 - April 5, 2018



APRIL 3RD, 4TH, AND 5TH, 2018


As we find our planet’s ecological boundaries tried, tested and breached, humankind wrestles with many ideas on how to best respond. To address the environment, social injustices, and wealth inequality, shifts and transitions of thought, practice, and systems are necessary. What sorts of transitions need to be made? Should we focus on energy policy? Do we dedicate funding to sustainable development, building, and transportation initiatives? Perhaps we turn our focus to a more profound cause – those cultural and social mindsets that we cling to through generations. All of these, the “Great Transitions,” are the topics of compelling conversations we aim to spark at the 2018 Spring Symposium, an event that brings together a diversity of minds from within and outside of Western’s School of Environment & Sustainability. From small transitions stemming from individual actions to globally-scaled ideas, our speakers are from many fields and backgrounds and will share their part of the story and inspire “Great Transitions.”

Tuesday, April 3, 2018: 6:30-8:30 pm, University Center Theater 

  • 6:30 pm: Introduction by Kelli Parker
  • 6:35-6:50 pm: View the Film Duke and the Buffalo 
  • 6:50-8:30 pm: Film Merchants of Doubt

Wednesday, April 4, 2018: 7:00-9:00 pm, at the Fred Field Center

  • Keynote speaker: Naomi Oreskes, ​Naomi Oreskes is one of the world’s leading historians of science. Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, her research focuses on consensus and dissent in science. She has won numerous prizes for her work, and has lectured widely in diverse venues ranging from the Madison, Wisconsin, Civics Club to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Her 2004 essay “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” cited by Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth, led to Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and to Congressional testimony in the U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Thursday, April 5, 2018: 12:30-2:30pm, at the Fred Field Center

  • 12:30 pm: Introduction by Dr. John Hausdoerffer
  • 12:35-1:05 pm: Gary Steffens, Energy Transitions
    • Gary Scott Steffens was a senior geological advisor for Shell Exploration & Production Company and is a proven oil and gas explorer in the Oil Industry.  His 36 years of industry experience includes most of the world’s oceans and all of the continents except Antarctica.  Gary also built and directed numerous exploration research programs and is recognized as a marine deep-water exploration expert through his international technical publications.  In the last two years of his career, Gary was an energy spokesperson for Shell and the Industry, engaging and working with federal congressional members, DOD Pentagon directors, White House advisors, DOI and DOE regulators, governors, state legislators, and numerous county/city officials.  In his retirement, Gary and his wife, Teresa, live in Houston and Colorado, enjoying their two children and six grandchildren.  Gary is currently an adjunct professor at Western State Colorado University, teaching in both the Geology and Business (Energy Management) Schools.
  • 1:10-1:30 pm: Duke Phillips, Conservation Ranching and the American West
    • Duke Phillips is the founder and President of Ranchlands, an agricultural-based business that specializes in the management of large-scale ranches, which they also partner with conservation-minded owners to implement ambitious conservation programs that co-exist alongside Ranchlands own cattle and bison operations.  All of the land is managed holistically, keeping in mind not just the health of the grass and cattle, but also wildlife activity, other plant life, and the well-being of the staff charged with caring for these beautiful spaces.  Duke lives his days in rhythm with nature, while managing his ranches in a way that they exist long into the future.
  • 1:35-1:50 pm: Paige Blankenbuehler, Journalism in the time of Fake News
    • Paige Blankenbuehler is an assistant editor at High Country News.  Her writing focuses on changing communities in the West and she is a contributing writer to the magazine’s tribal coverage.  She holds a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Missouri.  She’ll also be one of the staff members of High Country News joining Western’s School of Environment and Sustainability pilot program of housing editorial staff, non-profit organizations, and university faculty under one roof.  When she’s not writing, she likes to get swallowed by the wilderness on long backpacking trips.
  • 1:55-2:10 pm: Ivy Walker, Reconnecting with Nature
    • Ivy Walker is an artist and transformational nature guide and Colorado native.  She received her B.FA in Printmaking from Colorado State and a M.FA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Colorado.  Ivy’s work is guided by spontaneity, curiosity, and playfulness – encouraging her viewers to connect with the poetry and power of the land that holds, creates and sustains all life.  As a professional guide and coach she guides clients to transformation through creativity and explorations in Nature.
  • 2:10-2:30 pm: Questions and Answers


Fred Field Center
275 S. Spruce St
Gunnison, CO 81230 United States
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