While most of environmental monitoring efforts acknowledge the superiority of modern synthetic sensors over human perception, some people prefer procedures honed over thousands of years of human experience to 'read' the surroundings. When can human beings perceive conditions to which 21st century machines are oblivious? What is the role of such knowledge in environmental stewardship? Is there still a place for arguably irrational methodologies such as dowsing, geomancy and astrology in the age of global informatics? Might there be new ways of combining the seemingly incompatible?
Dr. Blersch is a research assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering at UB, and has interests in ecological engineering, restoration of aquatic ecosystems, and coupled human-natural feedback interactions. He has worked to develop interdisciplinary education and research programs with UB's ERIE Program, the graduate program in ecosystem restoration, and has research interests in numerous waterways in western New York and the lower Great Lakes.
Artists speak to and of the environment very differently than scientists do. In the hand of the artist, the camera-sensor becomes an expressive medium that can capture the unexpected. When environmental scientists model the environment, they see the world in a different fashion. Is there a common ground between these two different ways of engaging with the world?
Anna Scime is a Buffalo-based multimedia artist, primarily working in video and film. She is an MFA Candidate and Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Media Study at the University at Buffalo.
Dr. Atkinson is a professor in the Department of Civil, Structural, and Environmental Engineering at UB, and has interests in water quality, sediment transport, and ecosystem processes and modeling. He generally works with multidisciplinary groups, especially on issues related to the Great Lakes and to stream remediation.
Researchers have developed many different theories and methodologies to understand and observe the environment. Not all of them find their way into everyday resource management. Are the current practices in tune with state-of-the-art research? Which new approaches and insights will be most effective in future everyday practices? Can the gap between research and practice be bridged?
Meg Janis has been working for New York State Parks in the Western District as a biologist for the past 4 years. Her work focuses on natural resource stewardship including invasive species control, wildlife management, water quality monitoring, and habitat restoration.
Hrönn Brynjarsdóttir is a PhD candidate in Information Science at Cornell University. She uses an ethnographic methodology and critical technical practice to gain a deeper understanding of how information technology and culture intersect in our lives.
The Great Lakes feed the economies and cities surrounding them. Industries surrounding the Great Lakes use and misuse the waters due to insufficient oversight and lax enforcement. Will globalization remedy or accelerate cross-border resource misuse? Are there attempts to build new cultures of transnational water resource monitoring? How should one conceive of national autonomy when water resources such as the Great Lakes are global assets?
Who is best qualified to speak for the environment? Can and should citizens take charge of their surroundings and improve environmental monitoring? What kind of new forms of activism and new agency might emerge from these efforts? How can the academy and the community collaborate to make lasting change?
Lynda Schneekloth is a landscape architect and Professor Emerita of the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo. She was one of the founders of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and is currently chair of the Sierra Club Niagara Group.
Chris Lowry is a hydrogeologist and an assistant professor in the department of Geology and the University at Buffalo. His research focusing on groundwater dependent ecosystems and quantifying groundwater flow through field observations and numerical models.