Professional Development Courses & Workshops

Sustainability Presentation Recordings

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Sustainability Presentations

CSU, Chico’s Institute for Sustainable Development sponsors talks on campus by current faculty and guest speakers. In our continuing effort to bring more on-campus events to our online students — and to the community at large — we are recording these talks and putting them online. The Institute also features guest speakers at the annual This Way to Sustainability conference at CSU, Chico.

The online application allows the viewer to access the materials anytime, review the presentation multiple times, and print any handouts. Whenever feasible, especially for viewers with hearing impairments, we also provide links to transcripts — both with and without PowerPoints.


The Climate Crisis

Dr. Guy McPherson

Conservation Biologist, Author, and Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona

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Early in his presentation, Dr. McPherson states, “I’m concerned that ‘sustainability’ has come to mean sustaining Western civilization,” and adds, “This is sustaining the unsustainable.” The author of 10 books, including “Going Dark,” calls industrial civilization “an addiction we can’t seem to kick.” Dr. McPherson lives his convictions, as well – he left his tenured teaching position at the University of Arizona for ethical reasons and lives “off the grid” in a staw-bale house on a small homestead in rural New Mexico.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes

A Mindset for Change

Anya Fernald

CEO, Belcampo and Founder, Food Craft Institute

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Anya Fernald has combined her expertise in craft food making and business management into a force for change in California and around the world. She is a model for how a young professional can take her dreams and passions and turn them into something viable and sustainable.  Ms. Fernald started as a cheese maker in Europe and then honed her management skills by developing business and marketing plans for small-scale cheese makers in Sicily. Following that, she was engaged in other activities to support small, artisan food production in Europe. Since returning to her native California, Ms. Fernald has been involved in numerous sustainable food activities, most prominently as co-founder and CEO of Belcampo, a group of innovative agricultural companies in California, Belize, and Uruguay. She also works on slow food and farm-to-school activities.

Presentation Time: 49 minutes

This Way to Sustainability Conference IX: Keynote Speaker

Karen Ross

Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture

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Karen Ross learned about sustainability at an early age, while growing up on a farm in Nebraska. The word “sustainability” was not known then, but her father felt that his job was not just the food he produced that day, but to also leave the resources he had in a better state for the future.  “Sustainability is not fixed in time,” she states, “It is a value system of knowing how we do what we do affects a whole system. It includes treating the people who work for you well and connecting to the community.” Before her current position, Secretary Ross led a state-wide organization of wine grape growers in a large sustainability project, including documentation, self-assessment, and continual improvements in 214 practices. Now, as a high-ranking State official, she is challenged to apply sustainability to the public policy arena, especially around such difficult issues as water supplies and climate change.

Presentation Time: 53 minutes

The Wisdom of a 3.8 Billion Year-Old Story

Dr. Dayna Baumeister

Co-Founder, Biomimicry Guild Consulting

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Dr. Baumeister’s field is biomimicry – using nature’s designs to solve human problems. Accompanied by a slide show which features stunning photography, she begins her presentation by chronicling the evolution of Earth from its beginnings approximately 4.5 billion years ago to the present, using a calendar year as an analogy. The creation of the earth is listed as January 1 – human beings do not appear until December 31. Dr. Baumeister then asks some provocative questions, among them: Are we a species that will fit within this planet? Will human cleverness save us? What does it mean to be an inhabitant of Earth? The answers, she maintains, can be found in the natural world – and in the realization that “we are nature.”

Presentation Time: 49 minutes

Perspectives on 21st Century Agriculture

Michael Dimock

President, Roots of Change

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Michael Dimock refers to his organization, Roots of Change, as a “Think & Do Tank.” Roots of Change is working to align the food movement across California and create a sustainable food system by the year 2030. The organization provides staff and funds for the California Food Policy Council, so that 21 regions of the state can work together.  This talk focuses on Mr. Dimock’s belief that, in the last 100 years, Americans have lost their focus on agriculture. He contends that agriculture has moved from being a foundation of communities to a cheap source of food. He discusses the opportunity that sustainable agriculture provides to change that perception.

Presentation Time: 46 minutes

Northern Sacramento Valley Integrated Regional Water Management Plan Update

Vickie Newlin

Assistant Director, Butte County Department of Water and Resource Conservation

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Ms. Newlin, a CSU, Chico alumnus, serves as chair of the Technical Advisory Committee for the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan for the Northern Sacramento Valley.  The state-wide IRWM planning process was established by the California State Legislature in 2002. As Ms. Newlin explains, the IRWM creation was spurred by the fact that “water does not recognize political boundaries.” The IRWM includes: a collaborative effort to manage all water resources within a region; the crossing of jurisdictional, watershed, and political boundaries; the involvement of multiple agencies, stakeholders, individuals, and groups; and the goal of producing mutually beneficial solutions. The Northern Sacramento Valley Plan covers Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, Shasta, and Sutter counties. The governance board is made up of three appointments from each county chosen by their Boards of Supervisors.

Presentation Time: 51 minutes

California Water: Moving Toward a More Sustainable Future

Heather Cooley

Co-Director of the Water Program, Pacific Institute, Oakland, California

More Sustainable Future

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Ms. Cooley’s presentation begins with a look at California’s water – where it is found, how it is distributed, and water use patterns. She moves on to California’s water management challenges, including decaying infrastructure, limited availability/growing demand, declining water quality, collapsing ecosystems and fisheries, and climate change. She then focuses on new trends and sustainable thinking to tackle these problems, including a “rethinking” of demand, supply, and management. Conservation, waste reduction, and the “soft path of water” are among the key concepts she advocates.  Ms. Cooley received the U.S. EPA’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and earned an MS in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley.

Presentation Time:  52 minutes

Let’s Talk About Water

Panel Discussion

Let's Talk About Water Sustainability Play Button

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This panel draws together perspectives expressed throughout the day-long theme of Contemporary Water Issues at the seventh annual This Way to Sustainability conference on the CSU, Chico campus. The panel format provides an opportunity for conference presenters and participants to share ideas and concerns about water issues. The panelists include: Heather Cooley, Water Program Co-Director, Pacific Institute, Oakland, California; Marty Dunlap, Founder, Citizens Water Watch; Michael Jackson, Attorney at Law,specializing in water and environmental law; Shalini Kantayya, international water activist and producer of the film, “A Drop of Life”; and Melody Leppard, Co-Coordinator of the 2012 California Student Sustainability Coalition Convergence and staff at the Associated Students’ Sustainability Resource Center at Butte College.

We join the panel discussion already in progress.

Presentation Time:  48 minutes

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality

Richard Heinberg

Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Richard Heinberg is a Senior Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, a non-profit organization that provides tools and resources for sustainability. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators. During his talk at CSU, Chico, Heinberg lays out the prospects for our economy. He explores three growth-limiting factors: debt, energy, and the environment. He provides context to understand why the economy is doing what it’s doing and where it’s headed.  Heinberg also offers suggestions about what can be done to adapt to that reality. Starting with “The Party’s Over: Oil, War & the Fate of Industrial Societies” (2003), Heinberg has written 10 books.  His most recent book is “The End of Growth: Adapting to our New Economic Reality.” He has written numerous articles and appeared in many film and television documentaries.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

This Way to Sustainability Conference VII: Keynote Address

Dr. Wallace “J.” Nichols

Research Associate, California Academy of Sciences

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Dr. Nichols founded and co-directs Ocean Revolution, an international network of young ocean advocates. He is committed to building a strong, more progressive and connected environmental community. He has published articles in National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, and many other periodicals. This talk was the keynote address for CSU, Chico’s seventh annual This Way to Sustainability conference.  Among other topics, in this presentation he discusses “the connection between the planet and neuroscience,” a new field called “neuro-conservation.” He illustrates his talk with slides from his work as an oceanographer.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Cool Cuisine: Feed Your Body, Mind, and Planet

Laura Stec

Author and Corporate Chef for Pescadero Foods, Inc.

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Foods best for the health of our people are also best for the health of our planet. True or false? Why does it matter? And why should food-lovers especially take notice? Based on the book, “Cool Cuisine - Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming,” and a partnership between Harvard University and the Culinary Institute of America, this talk looks at how the four most common dietary habits which negatively affect human health (being overweight and eating too much sodium, simple carbohydrates, and red meat) are also ruining the health of our environment.  It addresses how agricultural practices can enhance or destroy the taste and nutrient-quality of food, and what inspires eaters (especially youth) to make changes. Understanding motivations and learning new tips will help us cook delicious, full-flavored foods more easily and more often. A discussion of the “energetics of food,” plus a mini cooking demo, complete the presentation. This talk was part of the seventh annual This Way to Sustainability conference at the CSU, Chico campus.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

The Causes of Recent Climate Change: Separating Fact From Fiction

Dr. Ben Santer

Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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Transcript with PowerPoint

Dr. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has spent over 20 years studying climate change. He has concluded that “the totality of evidence” shows that humans have affected climate change. He believes that natural causes alone cannot explain the observed changes. The bulk of Dr. Santer’s presentation is an explanation of the scientific underpinning of his conclusions. Among the topics he discusses are natural vs. human influences on climate, cause and effect relationships in the climate system, and debunking myths about climate change. This lecture is part of the Rawlins Environmental Literacy Lectures Series.

Presentation time: 1 hour

Origins and Environmental Impacts of Supervolcanoes

Dr. Clive R. Neal

Professor, Department of Civil Engineering & Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame

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Supervolcanoes can grow to the size of Greenland. They can form on land or on the sea floor. When they erupt, their environmental impact affects all living things on the planet! Learn about supervolcano eruptions of the Ontong Java Plateau, northeast of Australia, with Dr. Clive R. Neal, a professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame. “Origins and Environmental Impacts of Supervolcanoes” examines how large volcanic plumes form in the earth and the environmental impacts of these massive eruptions. The lecture is part of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturer Series and is co-sponsored by the CSU, Chico Institute for Sustainable Development and the Rawlins Endowed Professorship for Environmental Literacy.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 20 minutes