China in Africa: Challenges for Sustainable Development

This week on It’s Hot in Here, hosts Amanda Kaminsky, Neal McKenna, and Brendan Wu discuss China-Africa relations with Dr. Omolade Adunbi, an Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan’s Department of Afroamerican and African Studies. Amanda, Neal and Brendan are all students in Dr. Adunbi’s new winter course, When China Comes to Town: Environment and the Politics of Development (AAS 458). The course covers Chinese foreign development policy in Africa and across the Global South.

Our show features a conversation about the social and environmental implications of Chinese infrastructural investment across the African continent. We begin by discussing Dr. Adunbi’s research on wealth distribution in the Niger Delta, which he investigates extensively in his new book Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria. Our conversation focuses on urban reconstruction in Lagos and Chinese investment in a new project called the Lekki Free Trade Zone. Next, we examine the cultural dynamics of South Africa’s longstanding Chinese communities, drawing from a lecture given by Dr. Yoon Jung Park in New York in 2012 (watch the full lecture here). Finally, we explore the economic and environmental implications of China’s rising middle class through the eyes of Amanda, Neal, and Brendan, each of whom spent several years living in China. For more information on China-Africa relations, including podcasts and the latest news stories, check out The China Africa Project.

The show features music from artists who have embraced global cultural exchange, including Beijing-based Mongolian rock band Hanggai, Nigerian singer Stephen Uwechue who has become a pop sensation in China, and dub/reggae group Laohei from the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. Continue reading China in Africa: Challenges for Sustainable Development

Learning from the Locals: Community-Based Conservation with Nils Christoffersen

This week’s It’s Hot Out There segment features an exclusive interview with Wallowa Resources Executive Director Nils Christoffersen. Our guest visited the School of Natural Resources and Environment for the Wyss Speaker Series to share his experiences with community based conservation in the American West.  Nils shared the Bundy militia standoff in Oregon as an example of how these conflicts represent the broader tensions between conservation and communities in the West.  Wallowa Resources has been working to provide communities with an alternative process for community-based management that helps overcome these conflicts.  With the final militia men turning themselves in on February 11th, this interview comes at an extremely relevant time. Continue reading Learning from the Locals: Community-Based Conservation with Nils Christoffersen

Food, Love, and Money

In this episode, we spoke with movers and shakers in Southeast Michigan’s local food and land conservation scene.  With the 8th Annual Homegrown Local Food Summit recently behind us, we discussed its growth over the years, and its developing importance to the community.  Lindsey Scelera shared with us some of this year’s food victories as well as the victories that have come about in years past, including current Ann Arbor staples like Mark’s Carts.  Keith Soster tells us more about U-M’s goals for locally sourced food and what they’re doing to get there, as well as how students can get involved.

There are many ways to access and start making a difference for a more food sovereign Ann Arbor, with more just access for everyone, such as the UM Sustainable Food Program, volunteering through WWOOFing, the Michigan Young Farmer’s Coalition and more.

We also learned about the importance of preserving Michigan farmland and helping our threatened farmers with succession and business planning to hand their farms off to the next generation of food growers, instead of losing them to development. Legacy Land Conservancy is just beginning a program called FarmNext to accomplish just that.

Join Keith Soster, Director of Student Engagement for UM Dining Services, Robin Burke, Land Protection Manager at Legacy Land Conservancy, Lindsey Scalera, MI Farm to Institution Campaign Manager from the Ecology Center, Nathan Wells, Master’s Candidate and food warrior at SNRE, and your hosts, Andrea Kraus and Alex Truelove for the love of food.

Reciprocity With the Living Land: Braiding Sweetgrass with Dr. Robin Kimmerer

This week’s show wraps up a series of events at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment featuring Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, author, teacher, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. A prominent voice in botany and restoration practices, Dr. Kimmerer is the author of the books Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss. As the focus of our show this week, Braiding Sweetgrass informed our conversations about the interweaving of the traditional knowledges of science, ecology, and the teaching of plants.

Dr. Kimmerer beautifully articulates the importance of recognizing multiple knowledge sources and discusses the privileges and challenges of collaborations between different ways of knowing. The dialogue addresses how we415GI3IIIgL._SX354_BO1,204,203,200_ might work towards environmental restoration: grieving the destruction of beloved land, respecting one another, and getting our hands in the earth to move toward healing and restoring our relationship with the land. Dr. Kimmerer reads an excerpt from her book, explaining the principles of reciprocity and the responsibility of language to promote that message. Continue reading Reciprocity With the Living Land: Braiding Sweetgrass with Dr. Robin Kimmerer

The Power is Yours! Popular Environmental Narratives and the Legacy of Captain Planet

This week we took a break from the exciting-but-heavy subject matter that has occupied the It’s Hot in Here crew as of late, in order to mull-over the legacy of Captain Planet–perhaps the most recognizable environmentally-themed character of the 21st century, the product of a children’s television show no less!

Gaia - Captain Planet Dunkin Donuts Card (Photographed by Mark Anderson)
Gaia – Captain Planet Dunkin Donuts Card (Photo by Mark Anderson)

Although the show ceased production in the mid-90s, our blue-skinned, green-haired hero still pops-up at Halloween parties and climate rallies to this day.  What should we make of Captain Planet’s legacy?  Is the show just a cheesy relic from the heyday of Saturday morning cartoons or can it also offer us a meaningful glimpse of popular environmentalism’s past and present?

To this end, we sat down with three environmental thinkers to ponder clips from the show: Continue reading The Power is Yours! Popular Environmental Narratives and the Legacy of Captain Planet

Financing Biodiversity Conservation: The Case of the Bird’s Head Seascape

This week’s broadcast debuts a new partnership between IHIH and Michigan Sustainability Cases (MSC), a new case-based learning platform which integrates podcasts into sustainability curriculum. Hosts Katie Browne and Andrea Kraus first speak with Laure Katz of Conservation International about her role managing the transition of the Bird’s Head Seascape, from donor-supported to fully financially self-sustaining — in four short years. Suffice to say the demands of such a challenge live little time for sleep.

We are then joined in studio by Peter Pellitier, a student of both coral and soil, who conducted research in Papua New Guinea and the Coral Triangle a year ago. Peter speaks to the importance of protecting marine biodiversity, as a foundation of livelihoods and buffer against climate change, and the difficulty of sustaining homegrown conservation initiative. Continue reading Financing Biodiversity Conservation: The Case of the Bird’s Head Seascape