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CHE Environmental Colloquium: David Greenwood-Sanchez – Genetically Modified Crops, Markets, and National Identities in Mexico and Peru
Nov 11 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Online (Zoom)

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David Greenwood-SanchezThe promotion of genetically-modified (GM) crops has been met with resistance across the world, and in particular, within megadiverse countries where risks to biodiversity are more salient. This presentation will explore the formation of GM crop regulatory policy in Mexico and Peru, two megadiverse countries that have adopted differing approaches: Mexico has held a regulatory framework for GM crops since 2005, while Peru has opted for a 10-year legislative moratorium which has been in place since 2011 (and which is currently up for extension).

Using interviews, debate records, and newspapers, this colloquium will explore the origins of both of these outcomes, and focus on the ways in which civil society actors construct the issue of GM crops in relation to national identity. This will help provide new ways for thinking about how the political economy of GM crops is linked with presentations of national identity, and the ways in which these understandings of identity delimit the spaces in which genetic modification is, or is not, permitted.

Sign in Spanish that reads, "Lavado de papas nativas por la dignidad del Peru. No al ingreso de semillas transgenicas."

Farming in a mountainous region of Peru

CHE Environmental Colloquium: Greg Harrington – Drinking Water Treatment and Public Health: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?
Nov 18 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Online (Zoom)

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For centuries, civilizations have built systems to convey water for drinking, agriculture, and other purposes and to manage the resulting wastewater. Over a similar period of time, treatment techniques were developed to improve drinking water from an aesthetic perspective, with an emphasis on taste, odor, cloudiness, and color.

The connection between drinking water and human health is relatively new in this timeline, with the first documented cases of waterborne disease coming in the middle of the 19th century. By the early 20th century, waterborne gastrointestinal diseases such as cholera and typhoid were understood to be the third leading cause of death in the United States. This led to the advent of municipal drinking water treatment systems, commonly considered amongst the greatest public health and engineering achievements in human history.

More recently, we have challenged these systems to manage a more diverse array of contaminants and the far less certain public health implications of these contaminants. We are also well aware that some societies face economic challenges that serve as barriers to implementation of these systems.

This presentation will cover these historical successes and challenges with an eye towards the decisions that the next generation will need to make in order to sustain the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of these important municipal public health tools.

Satellite image of a drinking water treatment plant in Richmond, Virginia, near the James River

Satellite image of the McMillan Reservoir in Washington, D.C.

Satellite image of a water treatment plant in Omaha, Nebraska, near the Missouri River