Environmental Breakfast Club Creates Bridges Between Disciplines
Nothing goes better with your morning coffee than discussions on the environment and natural resources. At least, that was the thinking of some James E. Rogers College of Law faculty when they founded the Environmental Breakfast Club nine years ago.
Robert Glennon, Regents' Professor of Law and one of the club's founding members, said the club is a way for faculty from across campus to build relationships while participating in a series of fun, interesting talks.
"Academia traditionally is very siloed – everyone is working in their own space and focused on issued of concern to their discipline," he said. "Natural resources and the environment lend themselves to much broader, more interdisciplinary analysis. These presentations create bridges between different disciplines."
No preparation is required to attend the meetings. "There's no heavy lifting. There's no paper you have to commit to reading and critiquing. Just come in, have a cup of coffee and a bagel and meet some new people to find out what's going on from someone in another discipline," Glennon said.
Members met for the first time this fall on Sept. 6 to discuss the impacts of declining amounts of municipal water. Gary Woodard, associate director of hydrology and water resources at the Institute of the Environment, gave the presentation.
Glennon said the drought in the Southwest makes this topic especially significant to Arizonans.
As an example, he cited recent mandatory water conservation mandates in multiple Texas towns. Although the mandates helped water conservation efforts, they led to a decrease in utilities' revenue. He said he thinks the answer may be to enact price signals that would bump heavy water users into higher rate brackets.
"It would create incentives for people who use a little bit of water – they wouldn't have to pay as much – and disincentives for people who use a lot of water," Glennon said. "So ideally you would have the conservation message given to everyone by clearly stated rates that increase with the more water you use."
From water conservation to tree-ring science, Glennon strives to cover a variety of relevant topics when planning Environmental Breakfast Club meetings. In August, he announced the final schedule of the club's guest speakers. All speakers are currently working on various environmental projects for the University.
"They're all really terrific presentations this year. I expect we'll get a good crowd for all these talks," he said.
Meetings of the Environmental Breakfast Club are held the first Friday of every month from 8:30-9:45 a.m. in the James E. Rogers College of Law faculty lounge, Room 237. The schedule of presentations for the rest of the year includes:
- "A Possible Future for EPA and Environmental Regulation" on Oct. 4 by Paul Portney, professor of economics at the Eller College of Management
- "National Climate Assessment" on Nov. 1 by Jim Buizer, deputy director for climate adaptation and international development at the Institute of the Environment
- Tour of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research on Dec. 6 with Tom Swetnam, Regents' Professor and director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
- "Environmental Optimists and Pessimists" on Feb. 7 by Carol Rose, Lohse Chair in Water and Natural Resources at the James E. Rogers College of Law
- "Revisiting the Precautionary Principle: Infant Mortality and Environmental Risk Assessment in the Yaqui Pueblos" on March 7 by James Hopkins, associate clinical professor for the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the James E. Rogers College of Law
- "Place and Well-being: Towards a New Definition of Environmental Health, Beyond the Absence of Toxins and Disease" on April 4 by Esther Sterberg, director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine