Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Announcements- October 17th

The Boston College Career Center is hosting its annual Externship Program.
We are currently inviting employers in the Boston and New York areas who would be interested in hosting a student (or two or three) for a one-day job shadow experience during Winter Break. We would like to ask for your help in finding externship hosts who could provide Boston College students with a valuable career-related experience.The Externship Program is a one-day job-shadowing and mentoring experience during the week of January 9th-13th, 2012. By offering BC students the opportunity to participate in activities such as sitting in on staff meetings, observing client interactions, touring facilities, and conducting informational interviews, you help the student gain invaluable insights that could aid them in discerning their future career path.

If you are interested in participating, please visit our website for more details about the program and the application process. If you have any questions or know of other Boston College Alumni who may be interested in participating in the program, feel free to contact Gopi Dhokai at externship.employer@bc.edu.

Please note that the deadline for Externship Host applications is Friday, October 28, 2011.
Belize Study Abroad
The deadline for our great winter courses is October 31st.  Some of those courses are beginning to fill up, so please let Cynthia Reece, our Program Manager, know if you are interested, creece@isisbelize.com.  
Application forms and complete information can be found on our website,
http://www.isisbelize.com/apply-now/download-forms.html, or http://www.isisbelize.com/winter-courses-2011.html.

Summer programs application deadline is March 1, 2012.   There is still time to apply for the Gilman International Scholarship for summer, http://exchanges.state.gov/globalexchanges/gilman-scholarship-program.html. We look forward to welcoming you to Belize, where education is an

Growing Green
Majora Carter, eco-entrepreneur and president of Majora Carter Group
On Wednesday, November 2, the Museum of Science will be hosting Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and MacArthur "genius" fellow Majora Carter.  A pioneer of “green-collar” jobs and local eco-entrepreneurship, Ms. Carter will share her innovative ideas about the role sustainability should play in modern urban planning and her groundbreaking food distribution systems that improve public health and build economic opportunities in neighborhoods across America.
Wednesday, November 2; 7:00 p.m.
Admission $15

Health Hero. Prophet of Local. Eco-Industrial Strategist. Economic Pioneer. Intrepid Boundary Breaker. These all apply to one person—Peabody Award-winning radio broadcaster and MacArthur “genius” fellow Majora Carter.

 Tickets on sale beginning Thursday, September 1 (Tuesday, August 30 for Museum members). Purchase tickets in advance at mos.org/events

Whole Terrain, Antioch University New England's journal of reflective environmental practice. 
Position: Development/Communications Intern

EnvironMentors National Office, Washington, DC
EnvironMentors (EM) seeks a creative and committed individual for a part-time (10 hours/week) Marketing and Communications internship. The ideal candidate will have experience and skills in Internet research, writing and communications, program administration, and maintaining a sophisticated internal social networking website. The position will include working as part of a national office team located in Washington, DC and Boulder, CO, as well as with Directors and Coordinators at 13 university-based chapters nationwide.  The position’s primary emphasis is to assist with fundraising, communications research/development, maintain/update “EnvironMentors Online Community,” with occasional program support for EM’s university-based chapters.

To apply:
Send resume and cover letter to:
Jessica Soule
Subject/Attn: EM Intern Application
Electronically to: jsoule@ncseonline.org
Or via fax: 202-628-4311                                               

The Maine Humanities Council has awarded  the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust a $1000 grant for a community outreach project to  help Maine historical societies and the general public learn about and interpret early tide mills in their area. 
Working in collaboration with the Tide Mill Institute, the Trust will hold a conference November 18 and 19th at its headquarters in Kennebunkport, where tide mill historians from Europe and from Maine will present the heritage and technology of this example of the use of tidal power.   One presentation will lay out legal issues that affected early tide mills and confront those seeking to make use of tidal energy today.  An open forum will allow Maine’s coastal historical societies to share information and to study the tide mills that existed in their back yards.  Participants will also have the opportunity to hear about and see first-hand the current archaeological work being done by the Trust at its 1740’s James Perkins tide mill site in Kennebunkport.
 An informal reception will be held at the Trust’s headquarters in Kennebunkport from 6 to 8  PM Friday evening November 18, where displays and video presentation about tide mills can be viewed.  Saturday's activities start with registration at 8:30AM; presentations begin at nine o'clock.  There is a $20 conference fee.  For more information contact Bud Warren at budw@myfairpoint.net (373-1209) or Lisa Lassey at lisa@kctofficd.com.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Letter from Christchurch

Greetings from Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand! As most of you know, I am on sabbatical this academic year and living here with my wife and our two young sons. I will be back at BC next summer.

A few nights ago we had our first good shake after six weeks in Christchurch—a magnitude 5.5 earthquake just offshore of Sumner, the coastal town we had visited earlier in the day. We felt a 4.9 during our first few days here and many other small ones since then, but this one went long enough and was loud enough to give my wife and I a bit of a scare. It was the eighth largest earthquake since it all began on 4 September 2010, and the largest since June.

We are living in a city still recovering from a major trauma. For Christchurch, the big event was the magnitude 6.3 earthquake on 22 February 2012, which was followed by many more aftershocks later that day and on, including several large ones in June. The epicenter of the February quake was about 10 km southeast of the city and quite shallow, and it devastated the Central Business District. It also caused liquefaction (saturated sandy soil sometimes loses strength when subjected to shaking) in large areas on the east side of the city and massive landslides in the Port Hills suburbs (including Sumner) to the south. Many of those areas are now in the “red zone,” which is off limits, in some cases even to homeowners. The September 2010 quake was larger (magnitude 7.1), but on a different fault far enough (40 km) west of the city that the damage was less significant in Christchurch.

We live on the less-damaged west side of the city, in a little house owned by the University of Canterbury (UC) that is situated right next to campus. Several of the university buildings suffered structural damage to the point where they must be demolished, but none were knocked down directly, unlike many of the buildings in the CBD. Throughout the surrounding neighborhoods, the signs of the earthquake are there, mostly in the form of fallen-down brick walls and some blue tarps covering parts of damaged houses, but the roads are all intact and the vast majority of the buildings had only very minor damage, which has already been repaired.

Although local nerves are frayed by the aftershocks and by the uncertainty regarding the future of homes and neighborhoods, in my view as an outsider the impression is one of a city that is functioning and has a functional recovery process. New Zealand has a strong government that provides excellent social services, and the citizens largely lack the anti-government culture that pervades the United States. Importantly, the country has only two layers of government—national and city. About one month after the February quake, the two governing bodies created a new entity, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), which was tasked with managing the recovery effort. CERA is now working feverishly on a plan for how or whether to redevelop the red zone areas, and how to compensate property owners. The pace of the process is of course causing frustration, particularly to red zone homeowners, but from my perspective it is amazingly rapid. Already, CERA and the Christchurch City Council have sent mailings soliciting opinions on a draft recovery plan for the city. The plan was on display at an events tent set up next to the Rugby World Cup Fanzone in the city’s main downtown park. This week, the CCC is holding hearings on the CBD recovery plan.

This all stands in remarkable contrast to the best recent analogy in the United States, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. My wife and I watched first season of David Simon’s HBO series Treme during the first month we were living in Christchurch. We hadn’t planned it this way, but it was remarkable watching a television show about New Orleans six months into the post-Katrina recovery while living in Christchurch six months into its recovery. The narrative of Katrina is the failure of government, and that is one of the central themes of Treme. I don’t think any impartial observer would say that about the Christchurch case. There are certainly parallels. Treme has lots of conspiracy theories in it that were well covered in the national news after Katrina. Christchurch residents have aired out a few of these, too. Both cities also had some level of looting immediately after the events. However, in both of these instances, the similarities are in type, not degree.

My most direct view of the recovery process is at the university. I sat in on a presentation to the Geological Sciences Department by the Vice Chancellor of the College of Science one day in September. UC is facing difficult challenges. To house classes and offices displaced by the unusable buildings they quickly put up a new village of prefabricated buildings on a rugby field. More importantly, they face the near certainty of declining enrollment in 2012 (the February quake happened during the first week of classes for the 2011 academic year), which means a very difficult financial situation in the years to come. Like all U.S. universities, BC faced challenges after the 2008 financial crisis. However, the degree of belt tightening at UC will be far greater than was necessary at BC. The Vice Chancellor mentioned that they are looking at similar recovery situations, such as Cal State Northridge after the 1994 earthquake, and expecting 3-7 years before enrollments return to pre-earthquake levels.

The irony of natural disasters for earth scientists is that these events represent excellent learning opportunities. I have been guest lecturing in various undergraduate and graduate courses in the department (having a relief pitcher is most welcome at this time), as part of my UC Erskine Fellowship. The engagement of the students in the material is quite remarkable. Having lived through a geological event, they have little trouble seeing the importance of understanding how floods and landslides work. The spring semester here in the Southern Hemisphere ends this week. For the rest of our time in NZ, I will remain working out of the department and will be involved in some earthquake-centered research. I will also continue watch and learn about the process of a city recovering from a major environmental disaster.

I hope you are all having a good semester at BC. Until next time,

Director, Environmental Studies Program
Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Boston College

On sabbatical September 2011 - June 2012
Dept. of Geological Sciences
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand

Shipping containers protecting a Sumner street from continued rockfalls.

View from Sumner Head of the Avon River estuary, Christchurch city and the Southern Alps in the distance.