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Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water Tackles Regional Environmental Problems

Bard students and Water Lab staff make up the teams that collect and
analyze water samples from the Saw Kill. Photo by Sarah Wallock.
The new Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water is an interdisciplinary program that connects Bard faculty, staff, and students with grassroots efforts to protect the environment. The center looks to address a variety of challenges, from access to clean drinking water to the effects of climate change, using quantitative research and other tools that span academic disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, humanities, and the arts. 

“Our goal is to develop accessible, applicable, community-centered solutions to local and regional environmental problems,” says M. Elias Dueker, center director and assistant professor of environmental and urban studies. “Currently, we tackle these problems in courses throughout the College, in faculty-directed student research, and through community- and student-run environmental monitoring programs.”

The Center leverages the interdisciplinary platform of Bard’s Environmental and Urban Studies Program to bring social and political issues together with scientific study, to create effective solutions to complex environmental issues. “In an age where we can’t depend on national-level resource management, we’ve become more and more aware—as community members, as academics, as students, and as professionals—that environmental change must begin, literally and figuratively, at the grassroots,” says Dueker. In response, the Center is developing a Land Lab to bring science to the vibrant agricultural communities that surround the College, and its Sustainable Solutions Lab is bringing rigorous scientific testing to bear on efforts to mitigate human impacts on natural resources.

The Center also engages with citizen scientists from across the Hudson Valley through the Bard Water Lab, and participates in local efforts to protect our drinking water and scenic waterways. Through the Water Lab’s partnership with the Saw Kill Watershed Community, Bard faculty and students have been able to collaborate with community members to do research with a real impact, both on campus and within the surrounding area. Ongoing projects include amphibian and eel monitoring, and a comprehensive water quality–monitoring program powered by citizen scientists. For more information, visit waterlab.bard.edu and sawkillwatershed.wordpress.com.

“Community-driven science is key to successfully addressing the pressing issues surrounding access to clean water. From Flint to Hoosick Falls to Newburgh, we are daily being reminded of the importance of community members working to maintain water quality—from the tap to the treatment plant to our local waterways,” says Dueker. “We look forward to continuing to build our capacity to connect community members, decision makers, and the academic community as we all struggle to meet the environmental challenges of climate change—of ensuring clean water, clean air, and equitable food access both in the Hudson Valley and beyond.”

For more information on the Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water, visit landairwater.bard.edu.
Post Date: 01-29-2019