Thursday, 28 January 2010

From Paris, France

Although I promised myself to limit my travels during the first three months of 2010, I couldn’t resist the temptation to attend - with the generous support of the Rachel Carson Center - a meeting this weekend at UNESCO about a new Japanese conservation initiative. Having a ‘no-fly time’ is aimed at reducing my carbon footprint and increasing my writing productivity, but the Global Workshop on the Satoyama Initiative – organized by the Ministry of the Environment of Japan and the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies – promised to be stimulating experience for the special issue of the International 
Journal of Heritage Studies I am co-editing on “Preserving Biocultural Diversity on a Landscape Scale: the Roles of Local, National and International Designations”.  Satoyama is a Japanese term for ‘human-influenced natural environments, such as farmlands and secondary forest, that people have developed and maintained sustainably over a long time.’  As the Japanese are hosting the 10th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2010, this will be their flagship initiative to demonstrate their international commitment to protecting the environment.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Arrival in Munich

From Munich, Germany

I have arrived in Munich to take up the first part of a research fellowship at the Rachel Carson Center, a joint initiative of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and the Deutsches Museum. The GDF Board granted me ‘mini-sabbaticals’, and I was fortunate to have my proposal accepted to spend the first three months of 2010, 2011 and 2012 here in residence - my first northern winters in a long, long time. The Center is a ‘think tank’ that brings together researchers from Austria, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom who are involved in the field of international environmental studies. I am looking forward to dedicating time to various writing projects that have been on the back burner as I spent time teaching and traveling to GDF field sites over the past years. The sojourns in Munich will allow me to broaden my intellectual horizons as there is a focus at the Center on the role of the humanities in the current political and scientific debates about the environment. After witnessing the decline in government support for universities in the UK, I am impressed that the German Ministry for Research and Education has provided generous support for the Rachel Carson Center and its academic projects.

Monday, 4 January 2010

A New Year of blogs

From Marrakech, Morocco

After an experimental year writing The GDF Director’s blog, I have made a resolution to become a regular blogger in 2010. This renewed enthusiasm comes not only from a desire to communicate the rapidly evolving developments of GDF’s field programs, but also through my reading of Friends with Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook. Authors Julie Szabo and Darren Barefoot, whom I met when they were traveling in Morocco, provide an accessible and entertaining introduction to the world of web 2.0, from blogs to interactive websites, and from Facebook to Twitter. They inspired me to follow good blogging practice, including posting at least two reflections a week.  With the help of GDF International Program coordinator Erin Smith and new intern Heather Leach, we have been revamping the GDF-UK and GDF-US websites, sending eNewsletters and becoming present on Facebook through a GDF page and cause. Our Biocultural Diversity Learning Network, launched in October 2007, has a content-rich website and now sports a FB group that is growing daily.  Twitter is up next…