Posted: March 22, 2010
Professor Timothy Farnham, Leslie and Sarah Miller Director of the Center for the Environment, engaged students in a conversation about environmental policy March 2 at a “Fireside Chat” conducted by MHC’s chapter of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network.
The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network is a student policy organization that engages new generations in unique progressive activism, empowering them as leaders and promoting their ideas for change. Since the group’s founding in 2004, Roosevelt members have presented student policies on Capitol Hill, testified to city council, implemented legislation, and worked directly in their communities. The Roosevelt Campus Network is a division of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of their namesakes for future generations.
As a new student organization on campus, the group creates opportunities for students to participate in discussions with faculty on different areas of social and political thought. This past event was part of the Roosevelt Institute’s community discussions dubbed “Fireside Chats” after a series of evening radio speeches given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“Fireside Chats have been a big part of creating space on campus for open discussions with professors on topics that may not be covered on syllabi or with a group of students interested in topics in which they haven't taken classes,” said Emily Wazlak ’12, director of the Roosevelt Institute at MHC.
“I think the Fireside Chat with Professor Farnham was a great example of this, as we brought together students from multiple academic departments to discuss issues concerning environmental policy. It was exciting to be a part of a stimulating discussion on environmental policy with emphasis on what has been done and what can be done,” Wazlak added.
For the Center for the Environment, this collaboration connected to their spring theme “Policy in Action: Implications for Environmental Education, Literacy, and Leadership” which explores the multidisciplinary connections between environmental policy, citizen participation, and diverse perspectives.
The discussion touched on such topics as the cap and trade bill for carbon, Copenhagen, and the effects of partisanship and special interests on environmental legislation. Farnham, who also teaches an environmental issues course, challenged students to explore the systems that make policy.
“We need to think not just about the content of environmental policy and what we think it ‘should’ be, but also about the influences and character of the institutions that play roles in policy formation,” Farnham said. “The stories behind how legislation and regulation come into existence are often fascinating.”