The Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water Aims to Develop Accessible, Community-Centered Solutions to Local and Regional Environmental Problems
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— Building on its longtime dedication to the environment, science, and social change, Bard College announces the establishment of the Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water, an interdisciplinary program to connect Bard faculty, staff, and students with local and regional communities to develop accessible and applicable solutions to pressing issues affecting vital natural resources. 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. Many of these issues are currently tackled in courses throughout the College, in faculty-directed student research, and through community- and student-run environmental monitoring programs, such as the Bard Water Lab and Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC). The new center also seeks to shift the understanding of “environment” to include humans and the urban ecosystem, and to recognize that effective solutions to environmental problems must also address the issues of race, class, and gender to create lasting change.
“We are hoping to work together with local and regional communities to address complex problems like protecting drinking water sources, achieving equitable food access, breathing clean air, and surviving the effects of climate change,” says M. Elias Dueker, center director and assistant professor of environmental and urban studies. “We bring together sociologists and local policy makers, citizen scientists and climate physicists, microbial ecologists and artists, and other exciting combinations of people concerned about hunger, lack of clean water and air, and inequitable distributions of wealth to craft innovative approaches to long-standing issues now exacerbated by climate change.”
A key mission of the new center is to conduct quantitative research in the natural and social sciences. New research by Dueker and collaborators, including Shaya R. French ’15, on the transportation of microbial aerosols and its potential implications on urban air and water quality was recently featured in an article in Frontiers in Microbiology. That work is directly related to a similar study on the microbial composition of fog in Maine and in the Namib Desert, in which Dueker and collaborators found that fog particles lift microorganisms off the surface of water, and deposit them inland, increasing the microbial diversity. That study was featured in articles in The Atlantic and on the Atlas Obscura website.
Dueker said the center is starting a land lab to work with local farmers and communities to assess sustainable responses to climate change and will continue to build on the work of the Bard Water Lab and SKWC. Located on Bard’s Annandale campus, the water lab conducts water quality monitoring of the Saw Kill, Roe Jan, and other regional waterways and leverages the interdisciplinary platform of Bard’s Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) to improve the understanding of, and create effective solutions to, regional water quality issues. The SKWC works to study, protect, and teach others about the Saw Kill Creek and its watershed. Participants include watershed residents; Bard faculty, staff, and students; members of the conservation advisory councils from the towns of Red Hook, Rhinebeck, and Milan; county and state officials; representatives of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Hudson River Estuary Program, and Cornell Cooperative Extension (Dutchess County); and several nonprofits, including Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance. For more information, visit waterlab.bard.edu and sawkillwatershed.wordpress.com.
For more information on the Bard Center for the Study of Land, Air, and Water, please visit landairwater.bard.edu.
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Bard Press Contact:Darren O'Sullivan
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