FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 4, 2007
Scholarly Presentation Focuses on Environment
With a passion for environmental issues and a strong desire to change the way people go about making their daily consumer choices, two like-minded college English professors will cross the traditional boundaries of their discipline to co-present the 2007 College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation, entitled "The Environment, A Daily Decision."
Sponsored by the College of the Canyons Foundation and the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees, the presentation will take place Tuesday Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons. The roughly hour-long multimedia presentation will focus on some of the environmental responsibilities of global citizenship and point out some of the environmental effects of many daily consumer choices, while also examining the consumption, disposal and recycling habits of Santa Clarita citizens, with a goal to change the way people think about those daily decisions.
Convinced that concerns about environmental protection, energy conservation and climate change brought about by global warming should no longer fall solely on the shoulders of the government officials and scientists who have for too long been burdened with the task of staving off environmental crisis, event co-presenters Dr. Jia-Yi Cheng-Levine, a COC English and humanities professor and chair of the college's Sustainable Development Committee, and Dr. Will McConnell, assistant professor of the writing program and assistant director of the writing center at Woodbury University, have worked together for more than a year to develop their presentation.
"Usually people tend to say, 'Oh,that's a scientist problem,' " Cheng-Levine said, explaining the all-too-typical way of thinking the presentation is designed to change. "So we need a way to have people start to think about the fact that it's no longer just governmental and scientific expertise that can solve these problems. Instead it should be everyone's daily concern."
McConnell, who is no stranger to COC students after having been a regular guest speaker in several Cheng-Levine-taught courses, is also looking forward to using the presentation to bring about a more environmentally friendly way of thinking, but also hopes to clear up the popular notion that environmental issues are just too big for individuals to tackle.
"I've had people actually come up to me and say things like, 'The problem is just too big,' " McConnell said. "I think a lot of people really want to do something, but many of us are not quite sure exactly what to do. There are a lot of sources of information out there, but I think we need different conversation venues to be able to deal with the sheer volume of the issue. We really need to decide what we can do individually, but we also need a more concerted communal effort, and I think that's what events like this give."
And with energy conservation, recycling and sustainable development movements gaining momentum in communities across the country, and the concept of global warming now widely accepted -- thanks in part to former Vice President Al Gore's venture into documentary movie making with "An Inconvenient Truth" and the emergence of more and more environmentally consciousness advertisement campaigns -- McConnell and Cheng-Levine both feel the timing of their presentation is perfect.
"When we first proposed the idea to present, these environmental issues were not as prevalent as they are today. But now everywhere you turn businesses are trying to do something good for the environment," Cheng-Levine said. "So the approach we want to take now is a little different. We don't have to really convince anybody that we have a problem. Now we want to make those global issues relevant to everybody's home and everybody's life, to the point where it just becomes part of our daily consciousness."
As a tool to reach that result, Cheng-Levine and McConnell plan to share a number of Santa Clarita-specific consumption facts during the presentation, before taking that idea a step farther and specifically identifying some everyday consumer choices and examining their environmental costs, by looking at a typical Santa Clarita Valley child's room.
"We're going to take a picture of a typical kid's room and show the audience the common everyday items -- computers, electronics, video games, dolls, toys -- that will show up in almost every kid's room, and then show you not just how much it costs at retail outlets but instead emphasize the environmental cost brought about by packaging materials, shipping and fuel costs and energy use," Cheng-Levine said. "Right now, most of us are just too overwhelmed with our daily activities to even take the time to consider these things, so why not help people think environmentally about the things we buy, the foods we eat, the things we recycle or don't recycle and the kinds of toys we should buy (for our kids) or avoid."
In addition, the presenters plan to shock audiences by revealing some startling statistics regarding the amount of trash SCV citizens produce, by creating a hypothetical visual image of the College of the Canyons campus as a massive landfill.
According to data gathered by Cheng-Levine, Americans produce an average of 5 pounds of trash per person, per day. Using that formula, in a single year a group of 10,000 people would generate enough trash to fill an acre of space 10 feet deep. Using the roughly 150,000 Santa Clarita population mark provided in the 2000 census, it would then take less than 10 years for Santa Clarita's population to fill the 153-acre College of the Canyons Valencia campus with trash.
"And that's something we just don't consider, so we'll be making a lot of localized connections like that for people to think about," Cheng-Levine said.
The College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation is an annual event designed to showcase to the community the many varied interests, talents, academic scholarships and areas of research of the college's faculty, while providing a highly informative and entertaining series of events for community members to experience and enjoy.
"We always look forward to sharing our knowledge, research and varied interests, with the community so we eagerly invite everyone to come and see some of the really talented faculty we have here at College of the Canyons," said David Stevenson, chair of the COC Scholarly Presentation Committee. "Each year we select something that we believe will be of interest to the community, and the presentations are usually very informative, highly visual and quite entertaining."
Traditionally attracting somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 audience members, Stevenson is expecting this year's presentation to be even more highly attended because of the topic's wide-ranging appeal to various segments of the community.
Immediately following the presentation, the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees will host a guest reception in the PAC theater lobby, where audience members will have the opportunity to meet, greet and ask questions of the presenters.
Community members wishing to attend the Scholarly Presentation are requested to RSVP to the College of the Canyons Foundation, Shannon Muñoz at (661) 362-3737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.