Weissman Center Spring Series Examines Water's Crucial Role in Life

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 - 12:00

For immediate release
February 1, 2005

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - This spring, Mount Holyoke College's Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts will bring together leading environmentalists, educators, artists, activists, and scientists to explore the political, environmental, and cultural meanings of water.

The series, titled Water Matters: Survival for the Twenty-First Century, begins on February 10, when leading environmentalist Sandra Postel, the director of the Global Water Policy Project, and Tina Clarke, the campaign director of the Massachusetts Clean Water Project, will discuss the major questions guiding public debates on water use, conservation, and accessibility.

"We want to inspire the Mount Holyoke community to see water differently," said Karen Remmler, codirector of the Weissman Center and professor of German studies. "Instead of taking water for granted, we hope that facing the finiteness of water will give us new insights on its role in all aspects of life. We also want to explore the cultural aspects of water in this series."

Water Matters includes lectures, art exhibitions, public conversations, and two symposia. Among the scheduled participants in the March 31-April 2 symposium, titled The Place of Water in the World: Ritual, Beauty, and the Environment, are Gay Tischbirek, director of international relations at EFP Ecole d'Ingenieurs in Sceaux, France, and coordinator of the International Institute of Women in Engineering; Dai Qing, a journalist who has been outspoken in her opposition to her Chinese government's plans for the Three Gorges dam project; acclaimed experimental filmmaker James Benning; and Margaret Van Deusen, deputy director and general counsel for the Charles River Watershed Association and a 1976 graduate of Mount Holyoke.

Two exhibitions connected with the series open on February 1. Eye on Water, which will focus on water as a subject for artists, runs through July 3 in the Rodney J. White Print Room of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, and Water Ways, which features photographs and books that historically depict ways in which water has been used and viewed at the College, runs through June 13 in the fourth-floor hallway of Williston Library.

In conjunction with the series, nearly a dozen courses related to water are being offered this spring. From visiting artist in art and art history Ann Rosenthal's Ecological Art: Imaging and Writing Water and professor of Russian studies Stephen Jones's Oil and Water Don't Mix: Geopolitics, Energy, and the Environment to professor of geology Lauret Savoy's Human Dimensions of Environmental Change, students can explore the artistic, political, and geological aspects of water in more depth.

The Place of Water in the World will examine the relationship between water and place in scientific and artistic expression. "The symposium is open to the public and will feature a day of special events for alumnae and students," Remmler said.

Events in the Water Matters series include:

"Thirst and Abundance in the Twenty-First Century: The Politics of Water"
Format: Public conversation
Date: Thursday, February 10, 2005
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Art Building, Gamble Auditorium

Leading environmentalist Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project, and Tina Clarke, campaign director of the Massachusetts Clean Water Project, discuss the major questions guiding public debates on water use, conservation, and accessibility.

"Water: Its Ecological, Civic, and Cultural Meanings"
Format: Roundtable
Date: Thursday, February 17, 2005
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Art Building, Gamble Auditorium

This discussion explores the characteristics of water from its role as a basic element of life to its influence on community activism and social movements. Tom Miner, former executive director, Connecticut River Watershed Council, Daniel Ross, executive director, and Hilda Colon, organizing director, Nuestras Raices, Holyoke, Massachusetts, Hilary Noll '05, and Giovanna Di Chiro, visiting assistant professor of women's studies at Mount Holyoke College, discuss how water works in a community. What are the infrastructures that get water from its origin to a community? Why does water matter for creating a community?

"Water: The Oil of the Twenty-First Century?"
Format:
Panel discussion
Date: Thursday, March 3, 2005
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Art Building, Gamble Auditorium

"Many of the wars of this [twentieth] century were about oil, but the wars of the next century will be about water." --Former World Bank Vice President Ismail Serageldin. Ian MacDonald, professor of environmental science at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Elizabeth Wilson, petroleum geologist, and Stephen Jones, professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at Mount Holyoke College, discuss the ecological and economic relationship between oil and water and their significance as (re)sources of power in the twenty-first century.

Outdoor Sculpture Presentation
Speaker:
Mary Miss
Format: Lecture: "The Art of Engagement"
Date: Thursday, March 31, 2005
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Art Building, Gamble Auditorium

A presentation by public artist Mary Miss, whose works have often focused on water. Miss has been selected by Mount Holyoke's Outdoor Sculpture Committee as a candidate for a commissioned piece for the campus.

"The Place of Water in the World: Ritual, Beauty, and the Environment"
Format:
Symposium
Date: Thursday, March 31 - Saturday, April 2, 2005
Location: Art Building, Gamble Auditorium

This public exchange explores the relationship between water and place in shaping human existence and survival. Within a framework of visual renditions of water, the symposium addresses the following questions: What is the place of water in our physical and metaphysical lives? How do sacred and profane uses of water flow together or diverge in the world? Leading artists, scientists, and scholars will discuss their work and specific local and global water sites.

Undine Goes
Format:
Performance
Date: Saturday, April 2
Time: 4-5 PM
Location: Atrium, Williston Library

A performance with Hannah Bailey and the Mount Holyoke College dancers directed by Holger Teschke, visiting professor of theatre arts, and James Coleman, professor of arts. This experimental performance piece explores the myth of mermaids and other water creatures.

"Making Waves: Projects and Presentations on Water"
Format:
Student symposium
Date: Friday, April 8
Time: TBA
Location: TBA

Linking with the 2005 Mount Holyoke Student Science Symposium, this event celebrates a college-wide presentation of leading student work on a variety of topics including a focus on water.

Water Matters is sponsored by the Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts, together with the Center for Global Initiatives, the Center for the Environment, the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, the Dean of Faculty's Office, and many departments and programs on campus.

On the Web:
The Weissman Center for Leadership and the Liberal Arts
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/go/wcl

The Water Matters series
http://www.mtholyoke.edu/go/water