On Thursday, February 4, Colgate students and faculty as well as numerous members of the Hamilton community participated in the National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions, a daylong series of events held around campus. The day’s activities, which focused on both local and global environmental issues, culminated with a dinner at the newly remodeled Donovan’s Pub, which was followed in turn by a show put on by the Colgate band Earthman Embassy.
The National Teach-In, which has been known as Focus the Nation in previous years, included a wide variety of programming – from film screenings to panel discussions – that provided a forum for members of the Colgate community to share their concerns about global warming. Topics under discussion ranged from future energy possibilities to the local, regional and global effects of climate change, to how Colgate can become more environmentally sustainable in the future.
Despite having a similar format as in previous years, and occurring in conjunction with Colgate’s 13 Days of Green, the Teach-In saw an overall drop in attendance at the day’s various events.
“Attendance was pretty low, especially in comparison to last year’s Focus the Nation event,” Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Bob Turner, who helped organize the event, said.
Students also commented on the small audiences.
“I went to a panel discussion and ended up being the only one there other than the panel,” sophomore Emily Sabo said.
The panel was able to improvise though, holding a less formal, low-key conversation. Sabo said she was still glad she attended, since the ensuing conversation was relaxed and informative.
“It was still a ton of fun,” Sabo said. “I got to make personal contacts and hear firsthand about research Colgate faculty are doing in climate change fields.”
This sentiment appeared to recur through the day’s other events. Turner said that while attendance was low, enthusiasm was high.
“I got repeated reports of wonderful conversations at session after session, which might also have been due to the small groups at each session,” Turner said. He added that he would prefer lower attendance and active participation at the events to high attendance and dead discussions.
Senior Mitri Wohns, a student active in environmental initiatives on campus and a member of a student-led panel discussion, agreed.
“I think the day was successful insofar as people came together to discuss important issues and ideas,” Wohns said. “While the turnout was not great and certainly a bit discouraging, the people that did show up were passionate and the discussion was lively.”
This feeling was shared by speakers at the dinner at Donovan’s Pub Thursday evening, including Student Government Association President senior Dave Kusnetz, who called for students and faculty to change their habits.
“You find Colgate in the D+range on sustainability,” Kusnetz said. “We have to change our goals and outlooks … so that we can make actual tangible change.”