Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Class Log 2/10/2010

Is it possible for someone to be connected to a place and not feel a responsibility towards it and the surrounding world? We began today's discussion by reading from Kolbert, page 60, and discussing how little people in America today tend to notice the world around them. There are certainly exceptions, such as the Citizen Science Center at Beaver Creek Reserve, but the spread of cities has made it really difficult for people to make connections with specific places, as has been common at other times and places.

From there, we dove into the transportation section of 2008 CNT report.

Most of the general "readability" issues in the section were in regards to the large volume of numbers present. Laura thought it would help to have more examples of the actual equations used. Jason liked the tables, but felt charts or graphs would be useful as well. A number of people also suggested that a better system of explaining what everything actually meant was needed - for example, having a mini conclusion at the end of every section. Problems were also found with the conclusion that is given; Wally pointed out that it begins with a number never before seen, despite the standard rule of not giving new information in conclusions. Finally, Professor Hale pointed out that the transportation section is just one part of a much larger document. Formatting, style of conclusion, etc., ought to be the same throughout the entire document.

At some point, we also went into a discussion of the actual methods and data of the survey. The biggest complaint was with the category of "university-related travel by personal vehicles." This began with Teresa's comment that the difference between university-related travel and commuting ought to be better defined, and I added that knowing exactly what university-related travel consisted of would help both and those taking the survey. At this point, Professor Hale pointed out that breaking down the numbers into smaller categories would also help individual colleges within UWEC determine their carbon footprints. The problem with lack of data regarding air travel was also brought up, at which point Robyn explained that trying to find it would have meant going through four large filing cabinets full of data, which there simply wasn't time to do. Hopefully this year, and in future years, we'll be able to collect data directly from Fox World Travel instead.

At the end of the class period, we also briefly discussed our findings about other campus' surveys. A fair number of far more in-depth analyses have already been posted, and the rest likely will be soon. As such, I won't bother to post here the very brief summaries presented in class, but will instead end this post simply by reminding everyone to register for the Clean Air Cool Planet Carbon Calculator and download the Campus Carbon Calculator spreadsheet. Professor Hale has also suggested reading the New York Times "Ecopsychology" article. See you Monday!


  1. Thank you, Heather, for a great job! I especially appreciate the embedded links. If any of you want to chime in with additions from your own notes, please do so!

  2. One thing that I want to add in relation to clarity: we did attempt to define what "university-related travel with personal vehicle" included in the survey.

    The survey question was phrased like this: In a typical year, how many miles do you travel (round-trip) for University-related business (i.e. conferences, meetings, teaching, research)? ONLY include mileage from personal vehicles and/or airlines.

    There are other purposes, but it we felt that these were the most important and easily quantifiable.

    Transportation group, you have the most challenging task!


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