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Conference Program

Monday, April 23, 2018
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center


7:30 A.M.

Check-In Opens

The check-in/registration counter will remain open throughout the day.

Exhibit Area Opens

Continental breakfast will be available in exhibit area from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.

9:00 A.M.


Paul Robbins, Director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

9:10 A.M.

Botswana as a Role Model: Economic Innovation and Environmental Sustainability

The BBC recently named Botswana one of the world's best countries to live in. This judgement was based on the country's positive rankings on three international indexes: World Justice Project's Rule of Law, the World Bank's Government, and the Social Progress. 

Central to Botswana's success has been the vision and integrity of its leaders and their dedication to governing under the principles of liberal democracy, non-racism, and the rule of law while seeking to effectively steward and leverage their nation's natural resources.

Botswana's leaders, especially the Khama family, have long-served as models for strong governmental commitment to environmental issues. Botswana has implemented strict measures to prevent and punish illegal poaching, maintains an active partnership with the Khama Rhino Sanctuary and the Kalahari Conservation Society, is aligning outside research with the country's priorities and requires all infrastructure projects perform environmental impact assessments.

The release of the 2016 movie, A United Kingdom, was timed to coincide with Botswana's 50th anniversary of independence from Great Britain. Since achieving independence, Botswana has employed and maintained a vigorous, market-friendly economic development program that transformed the nation into an export-based economy built around beef, copper, and diamonds.

Honorable Minister Tshekedi (T.K.) Khama II, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Republic of Botswana

10:00 A.M.

CO2 Much of a Good Thing: Engineering the Environment to Manage a Growing Threat

Human progress has come at a price: increased carbon dioxide (CO2) outputs. While carbon dioxide is fundamentally necessary to sustain healthy plant life, an overabundance of it in the Earth's atmosphere vastly diminishes the quality of human life. In our present circumstances, how can humankind attempt to decrease CO2 levels fast enough to slow the rate of climate change?

Geoengineering refers to deliberate large-scale intervention of the Earth's natural systems to counteract the effects of global warming. These novel, innovative approaches are not without controversy or debate. Is modulating the planet's naturally-occurring systems the right approach? The only approach? What are the risks involved? What impacts will this approach have on humans?

Sumudu Atapattu, Director of UW Law School Research Centers, UW-Madison

Wil Burns, Co-Director, Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, School of International Service, American University

10:45 AM

Refreshment Break, Exhibits, Posters

11:15 AM

Morning Concurrent Sessions*

  1. Farm to Table: Food, Agriculture, and Sustainability

    Food - how it is produced, prepared, distributed, and enjoyed - is at the heart of every society and every culture.

    Food is a vehicle for transmitting cultural heritage, ensuring our physical health, and serving as a tool for artistic expression. Food has the power to nourish not just the body, but the mind and the soul.

    How does urban and rural agriculture utilize time-honored practices such as rainwater collection, integrated pest management, and crop rotation and diversification to sustain community gardens and farms? How do food co-ops work with urban and rural farmers to source and distribute their products based on the needs of the communities they serve?

    MODERATOR: Monica White, Assistant Professor of Environmental Justice, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, UW-Madison

    Ashley Atkinson, Co-Director, Keep Detroit Growing

    Ben Burkett, Farmer and State Coordinator, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives

    Jessika Greendeer, Agriculture Division Manager, Ho-Chunk Nation

  2. Supply Chains: Spotlight on the Environmental Link in the Total Systems View

    A supply chain is a set of organizations - including individuals and communities - directly linked by the flow of products, services, finances, and/or information from a source to a consumer.

    International, regional, and local corporations are actively and critically developing their sourcing and distribution processes to ensure environmental sustainability. For these organizations, implementing and maintaining high standards when sourcing and distributing natural resources is a critical investment. Failing to do so will not only disrupt the health of the supply chain, but prove detrimental to future economic success.

    MODERATOR: Jake Dean, Director, Grainger Center for Supply Chain Management, Wisconsin School of Business, UW-Madison

    Holly Gibbs, Associate Professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment and Department of Geography, UW-Madison

    David Prager, Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs, The De Beers Group of Companies

  3. Visionary Training for Environmental Futures: Developing People and Organizations

    Where are the next great environmental leaders most needed? What do they need to know? How are we training them? How will they change the organizations in? Our speakers will share thoughts and insights from international, urban, and rural perspectives and will explore how environmental organizations will need to change to meet the demands of the future.

    MODERATOR: Nathan Schulfer, Director of Professional and International Programs, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

    August Ball, Founder, Cream City Conservation

    Chris Caldwell, Director of Sustainable Development Institute, College of Menominee Nation

    Jacob Campbell, Environmental Social Scientist, Keller Science Action Center, The Field Museum

    Andrea Santy, Director, Russel E. Train Education for Nature Program, World Wildlife Fund

  4. Agents of Change: Communities Collaborating to Solve Complex Problems

    Some environmental problems are difficult or impossible to solve due to incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large economic burden associated with implementing change, and/or the interconnected nature of the problems themselves. Any one of these scenarios can contribute to the challenge of finding workable solutions.

    Community leaders are often at the forefront of these discussions and serve as architects of innovation and change. Diplomacy, respect, and a willingness to listen and compromise are the tools that underpin the negotiation processes that lead to positive resolutions.

    MODERATOR: Lynn Broaddus, President, Broadview Collaborative, Inc.

    Greg Armstrong, Director of Land Management and Environmental Education, Holy Wisdom Monastery

    Paul DeMain, CEO, Indian Country Communications

    Rachel Plattus, Co-Editor, Beautiful Solutions

    Marcy West, Executive Director, Kickapoo Valley Reserve

  5. Wisconsin Ideas: A Creative Look at Graduate Research in the Nelson Institute-Part 1

    Nelson Institute graduate students conduct research on a wide range of topics: future energy resources, health, wildlife habitat, food systems, toxicology, environmental history and much more. A select group of students working on masters and doctoral degrees will provide quick overviews of their work.

    MODERATOR: Shari Wilcox, Associate Director, Center for Culture, History, and Environment, UW-Madison

*Conference concurrent sessions subject to change. Speaker confirmations will be posted as received.

12:30 PM


1:45 PM

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions*

  1. Powering the Future: Can Batteries Save the Human Race?

    The Earth provides several sources of natural energy: wind, tides, and sunlight. How do we capture and store these renewable resources for future use?

    As many innovate solutions to our planet's ever-expanding energy needs, batteries have and are continuing to transform methods of transportation, construction, agriculture, and more - all while reducing humanity's reliance on fossil fuels and addressing energy issues intensified by the Earth's rapidly-changing climate. Yet, batteries have their own environmental footprint. Are batteries the solution? If so, at what cost?

    MODERATOR: Megan Dyer, Manager of Distribution Engineering, Alliant Energy

    Mohammed Rafi Arefin, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, UW-Madison

    Robert J. Hamers, Steenbock Professor of Physical Science, Director, Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, Department of Chemistry, UW-Madison

    Marek Kubik, Market Director, Fluence Energy

  2. Innovative Observational Technology: Seeing the Unseen

    Drones. Hidden cameras. Advanced mapping applications. All bring to mind science fiction novels and military operations. As it turns out, these technologies have application and practical utility that reaches into everyday life, especially for wildlife, agriculture, and coast lines. Drones and many other new novel forms of technology are helping researchers and practices learn more about our environment and problem-solve for the future.

    MODERATOR: Sarah Graves, Environmental and Observation Informatics Program Coordinator, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

    Susan Frett, Natural Resources Educator and Research Scientist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Office of Applied Science

    Brian Luck, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist: Machinery Systems, Biological Systems Engineering, UW-Madison

  3. 911 for the Planet: Disaster Management and Response

    What are the tools we use to communicate and manage the aftermath of natural disasters? How do we impart a sense of urgency without embellishing or evoking catastrophe? How do we incite action without overwhelming our audience? How do we use social media to improve disaster management and response?

    MODERATOR: Paul Block, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, UW-Madison

    Vicki Bier, Risk and Decision Analyst, College of Engineering and Wisconsin Energy Institute, UW-Madison

    Alejandra Castrodad-Rodríguez, Former Resilience Officer for San Juan, Puerto Rico

    Shane Hubbard, Associate Researcher, Space Science and Engineering Center, UW-Madison

  4. Let's Talk About the Environment: Storytelling, Aesthetics, and the Politics of Transformation

    Artists, writers, and activists provide narratives for understanding environmental complexity. The tools and forms of expression have evolved, but the desire to celebrate, protect, understand, and communicate humanity's connection to and responsibility for the Earth and its resources remains constant.

    How does narrative, aesthetic, and political work shift conversations about environmental issues and what we consider to be "environmental"? Journalism, film, and performance art are all used to convey and illustrate the interconnectedness of humanity to nature in interesting, and sometimes powerful ways.

    MODERATOR: Alexandra Lakind, Doctoral Student, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

    Justin Gillis, former New York Times editor and environmental reporter

    Brian Holmes, Professor of Philosophy, The European Graduate School

    Alejandro Meitin, co-founder of the art collective Ala Plástica

    Emmanuel Urey, Doctoral Student, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

  5. Wisconsin Ideas: A Creative Look at Graduate Research in the Nelson Institute-Part 2

    Nelson Institute graduate students conduct research on a wide range of topics: future energy resources, health, wildlife habitat, food systems, toxicology, environmental history and much more. A select group of students working on masters and doctoral degrees will provide quick overviews of their work.

    MODERATOR: Carol Barford, Director, Nelson Institute for Environment Studies, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, UW-Madison

*Conference concurrent sessions subject to change. Speaker confirmations will be posted as received.

3:00 PM

Refreshment Break, Exhibits and Posters

3:30 PM

Innovative Local Leadership: Climate Mayors Sound Off

How do municipalities plan for and respond to major climate-related events? What are the most pressing environmental issues faced by cities? What types of innovative strategies are being implemented to help citizens adapt to the effects of environmental degradation and climate change?

Founded in 2014 with start-up funding from the Clinton Global Initiative, the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda ("Climate Mayors") is an association of United States mayors with the stated goal of reducing greenhouse emissions. This organization has promised its commitment to upholding the emissions goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change even if the United States withdraws from the agreement.

MODERATOR: Paul Robbins, Director Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Jim Brainard, Mayor, City of Carmel, Indiana

Annise Parker, former Mayor, City of Houston, Texas; founding member of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda

Paul Soglin, Mayor, City of Madison, Wisconsin

Karen Weaver, Mayor, City of Flint, Michigan

5:00 PM