Voinovich School understands importance of solving environmental issues

In recent years it seems as if natural disasters have become more prevalent on American shores, plains and country sides. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and thousands of volunteers offered help after Hurricane Sandy slammed the east coast this past October, it seems like this hurricane was just one of hundreds more to come.

With mega-storms becoming common occurrences, the cleanup stage after Sandy almost seemed routine. For example, despite the shattered well-being of thousands of people and an outstanding financial burden, we’ve already “moved on” from Hurricane Sandy.

But it is important to ignore the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to destructive forces such as Hurricane Sandy. It is especially easy for Midwest folks to send the storm to the back of their minds considering they don’t feel any direct effects. However, at the Voinovich School, we find it crucial to face these issues rather than ignore them.

The Ohio University’s Environmental Studies Program’s mission statement and purpose is “to equip students to understand and solve environmental problems, by integrating perspectives of biological sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and humanities.”

The part of the mission that sticks with me the most is the idea of understanding environmental events. No matter how many preventative measures we take, there will still be severe after-effects and destruction as a result of extreme weather. That being said, it is important to focus on causes of such disastrous storms.
Dr. Geoff Dabelko, Professor and Director of Environmental Studies explains, “While adapting to these new realities is key, it is also critical to ask and understand what forces are driving the troubling trends we see in extreme weather events in the United States and around the world.”

Whether the increase of mega-storms is a rising surface temperature or pure coincidence, students, scholars and practitioners, such as those at the Voinovich School, understand the need to further analyze extreme weather. If we fail to do so, I personally fear that storm by storm, we will lose sight of the negative consequences each one brings to our nation and those directly affected.

Hurricane Sandy, a storm responsible for thousands of flooded homes, razed neighborhoods, millions of power-outages and over a hundred deaths should not just be the next natural disaster in a line of many. Instead, it should act as motivation to explore alternative research on extreme weather and possible ways to hinder it. Luckily, programs such as the Environmental Studies Program are doing just this!

For more information on national and global weather changes, check out the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee’s 3rd National Climate Assessment at http://ncadac.globalchange.gov/.


Hopeful Week 8

This week started with a bang, to say in the least. I had originally planned to be out of town mid-week for my mother’s birthday and a dentist appointment (need to get that in before the move!), which made

the week crazy enough. Now, I have a job interview Wednesday morning in Washington D.C.—super exciting? Yes. Totally messed with my plans this week? Also yes, but I’ll take it! Now, I’m gearing up for a drive this afternoon to Washington D.C., and I’ll be back in Athens (900 miles and roughly 16 hours of driving later) on Friday—Wish me luck!

Aside from the crazy travel schedule, classes are beginning to come to a close. We have our Economic Development Policy presentation next Wednesday, where I’m focusing on rural economic development—there’s also a paper component that I need to start drafting. I have to start thinking about my fundraising plan, also due during finals week. Also on my plate is my portfolio defense on next Tuesday (Eeeep!!).

To make things more complicated, we have to start thinking about the move. If I get a job, when it will happen; if I don’t have a job, when it will happen; renting a truck; finding an apartment; getting settled; yadda yadda yadda.

One thing at a time. Travel, school, move. If I focus on more than one at a time, I might go crazy.

Remember when I said I was ready to get out of school? Looks a little scarier now that it’s almost here!

Hope everyone has a less stressful Week 8 than I do!


Immortality by Proxy

Building 21 at the Ridges seems to have a distinct smell ofacademe. Though this smell is difficult to express in words, it has left an indelibleimpression in my mind. Entering graduate school in 2010, my introduction to the Master’s of PublicAdministration program began in building 21. On a hot September day I walked into the lobbyof its historic building and was captivated with its beauty. The wood floors gleamed under afresh coat of lacquer and the white crown molding provided brilliant contrast to thenatural tan walls. Needless to say, this environment was unlike any academic setting I had everexperienced.

It was during this introduction that I met some of mygreatest friends and companions. I also committed myself to writing a thesis. Looking back, I can’tunderstand why I had such a strong desire to write a something of that enormity. Perhaps it wasthe history of Building 21 or the challenge of intellectual betterment. Either way, somethingdeep inside bubbled to the surface that day and set my fate for the next two years. Though I am the only person who elected to write a thesis, I have found the process to be quiteenriching and transformative. Prior to entering graduate school, I had very little understanding ofresearch. Now, I much more knowledgeable of scholarly research and I have honed my abilities as anacademic.

Writing a thesis changes you. It opens your mind and pushesyou to work harder. As the first MPA student to write a thesis under the Voinovich School, I have experienced tremendous mental pressure. I often tell peers that writing a thesis isunlike anything I have ever done before. Deadlines are self determined and the final draft isconceived with little oversight from faculty members. Adding to this stress is the pass or fail nature ofthesis writing. Though I feel confidant in my work, failure consistently lingers in the back of mymind. Undoubtedly, I will work hard and complete my thesis on time, but I do not know how mycommittee members will receive my work. That, is stressful…

-Andrew Miller

“For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’msurprised where the journey takes me.” -Jack Dann

“Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – thewords live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It isimmortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.” -J. Michael Straczynski