Big questions: Frontiers’ fresh look

big questions

This fall, the Institute on the Environment is refreshing our popular Frontiers in the Environment series. We’ll ask some Big Questions and host solutions-focused conversations about the next wave of research and discovery.

Each week, we’ll ask a pressing question such as, “Can we build a more resilient food distribution system?” Researchers and other experts from IonE and the greater University and Twin Cities’ communities will dive into the topic, sharing cutting-edge insights to move us closer to the answer.

Everyone from the University and beyond is invited to join us on Wednesdays at noon in St. Paul or via live stream. A Q&A will follow the presentations and refreshments will be served. Attendance is free!

The series kicks off on Sept. 24 with a discussion between researchers in the School of Public Health about the global food system and how computer models can predict and deal with foodborne disease outbreaks. On Oct. 1 you’ll get a peek at IonE’s recently launched Energy Transitions Lab, which is working to ease the transition to a clean energy future, from the lab’s executive and faculty directors.

On Oct. 8 a panel of urban planning experts will focus on cities of the future and how the Twin Cities might help catalyze much-needed global urban innovations. On Oct. 15 you’ll find the IonE’s Natural Capital Project lead hashing over whether society should place monetary values on the benefits we derive from nature, such as clean air and water — an appropriate introduction for the Oct. 22 forum about what Minnesota’s clean water future will look like, featuring water resource luminaries from the University and the state of Minnesota. We’ll round out the October talks on the 29th with a panel of political thought leaders discussing the role of the environment in the upcoming state elections.

November 5’s discussion between an agroecologist and a public affairs professor will center on the agricultural revolution taking hold in the U.S., which is expected to produce more goods and services while simultaneously improving the land that bears them. On Nov. 12 an expert from the U’s Extension service will tackle the conundrum over the health and well-being of children in this day and age when kids spend more time in front of a computer monitor than they do outside.

The series will come to a close for the semester on Nov. 19, with a panel debate of whether it’s enlightened or naïve for environmentalists and corporations to collaborate.

To view the schedule and plan your Wednesdays, go here.

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