The Environmental Law Program, with the assistance of several professors throughout the University System of Maryland (USM), began a long-term project to create a durable interdisciplinary initiative by bringing together environmental scholars from the University’s 12 campuses and three environmental research centers.
Professors Rena Steinzor and Mike Pappas led the effort to organize the inaugural USM Environmental Summit, held at the law school on February 17, 2014, and designed to foster an enduring, collaborative, inter-disciplinary community of more than 300 environmental scholars.
The summit’s over-arching goal was to bridge the gaps between disciplines and campuses to develop research, teaching, and student-recruiting opportunities for environmental scholars. The one-day conference focused on enhancing interdisciplinary curricular opportunities, improving scholarship through building research and teaching relationships, addressing challenges to stated goals, and building administrative support to sustain this effort into the future.
The conference featured three-to-five minute “lightning” presentations from 20 participants about their current and future research; a course design workshop where groups of scholars created models for future interdisciplinary courses addressing climate change topics; and a concluding keynote address from USM Chancellor Brit Kirwan, who recognized the extraordinary opportunities presented by this initiative. Due to the event’s success, plans for the 2015 USM Environmental Summit are already underway.
The Steering Committee is now pursuing and enlisting University support for an “Interdisciplinary Environmental Boot Camp” to enhance interdisciplinary environmental education by creating unique courses and learning environments. The boot camp project would bring students from across disciplines together in intensive, week-long “mini-mester” courses during summer or winter break periods. These courses will be team-taught by interdisciplinary faculty and will give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in multi-faceted environmental issues and engage in collaborative problem-solving.
Donald Boesch, President, Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Antonio Busalacchi, Director, Univ. of Maryland Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center; Professor Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, Univ. of Maryland
Scott Farrow, Professor of Economics, Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County
Joanna Goger, Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy, Univ. of Maryland Environmental Science and Policy Program
Ali Ishaque, Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Univ. of Maryland Eastern Shore
Bruce James, Director, Univ. of Maryland Environmental Science and Policy Program
Jon Kramer, Director for Interdisciplinary Science, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center
Thomas Miller, Director, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and Professor, Univ. of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Donald Milton, Professor and Director, Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health; Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Affiliate, Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics and the Maryland Pathogen Research Institute
Margaret Palmer, Director, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center; Professor of Entomology, Univ. of Maryland
Michael Pappas, Assistant Professor, Univ. of Maryland Carey School of Law
Rena Steinzor, President, Center for Progressive Reform; Professor, Univ. of Maryland Carey School of Law
Christopher Swan, Associate Professor, Geography and Environmental Systems, Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County
Jane Wolfson, Professor of Environmental Studies, Towson University