EI Fellows to present at sustainability conference in New Zealand

Five Gettysburg College students will travel to New Zealand to present their public-policy research at a conference on sustainability.

With topics ranging from biofuels to the rights of indigenous peoples, they will be the only undergraduates invited to present at the On Sustainability Conference in Hamilton, New Zealand, which has been convened at sites in the Pacific Basin since 2005.

The trip will be part of the students' experience in the Undergraduate Fellows program of Gettysburg College's Eisenhower Institute.

"I am very excited to have this opportunity," said Chido Munangagwa '11, who hails from Harare, Zimbabwe. "It's an inter-disciplinary conference covering environmental, economic and social sustainability, involving relevant issues for today. I am looking forward to hearing about how these issues are addressed globally."

Economics Prof. Eileen Stillwaggon initiated contact with the conference, at which she herself has presented. As the College's Harold G. Evans-Eisenhower Professor, Stillwaggon's duties include the development of unique opportunities for the Eisenhower Undergraduate Fellows program.

Accompanying the students will be Library Director Robin Wagner and history Prof. Michael Birkner, the College's Benjamin Franklin Professor of Liberal Arts, who will conduct research and advise students during the trip.

Transportation costs posed a challenge until a generous alumnus, Andy Parker '79, stepped forward. Additional support is from a Mellon grant.

"Gettysburg does a marvelous job in providing students with global opportunities to serve or learn and also to offer students with the chance to share those opportunities with the campus," noted Munangagwa.

About the fellows' research

Anskar Fosse, a double major in English and film studies, examines how the environment becomes a tool for social commentary in Mohsen Makhmalbaf's film "Gabbheh". Makhmalbaf is one of several Iranian directors who experienced great success at film festivals during the 1990s. He is known for his films' strong political focus. In "Gabbeh", Makhmalbaf creates a quasi-documentary about a Farsi tribe migrating throughout Iran. During the film, he uses the environment in order to comment on women's rights.

David Curtis, an environmental studies major with minors in economics and biology, examines how diminishing fossil fuel stocks have resulted in substantial interest in alternative biofuels such as corn, sugarcane, switchgrass, vegetable oil, and algae. Studies have shown that algae may produce a higher yield than other biofuel candidates. Unfortunately large-scale algae operations have faced shortfalls due to contamination in open channel systems and high costs. Curtis identifies solutions for large-scale algae operations.

Gwen Brown, an environmental studies and political science double major, explores the connection between environmental legislation and the rights of indigenous peoples around the world, as well as the involvement of indigenous people in sustainable development initiatives. Brown examines the right of indigenous people to control their traditional lands, which are often valued by non-indigenous parties for the resources they contain.

Sara Cawley, a political science and environmental studies double major, analyzes trends in the United States' western half over the past two decades, as the region's economic base has changed from resource extraction to service industries and as ex-urban immigrants have created "New West" communities and landscapes. Cawley also suggests collaborative solutions for resource-management and socioeconomic issues.

Chido Munangagwa, an economics major with a French minor, examines the increasing presence of China in Africa. Not only is China involved in resource extraction, but also foreign direct investment, development aid, and immigration of Chinese workers. Munangagwa's research examines whether China's efforts can trigger growth in the region and what the new Sino-African relations mean for Western democracies, which have been key in African development efforts for 50 years.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Nikki Rhoads, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Posted: Tue, 21 Dec 2010


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