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ESF Joins Earth Day Teach-In on National Mall

Dr. Paul Hirsch leads session on ‘thinking together’
4/18/2017

ESF co-sponsored and participated in the Earth Day Teach-Ins this Saturday, April 22, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The college invited alumni, friends and anyone interested in learning about science to join the ESF session.

The topic was "Reducing Polarization and Thinking Together: How do we talk about environmental changes and challenges when differences divide us?" The moderator was Dr. Paul Hirsch, an assistant professor of environmental studies at ESF. Two panelists participated in the conversation:

' Neil Patterson Jr. (Tuscarora), assistant director of the ESF Center for Native Peoples and the Environment and a representative to the EPA Tribal Science Council

' Frank Sesno, author of "Ask More," founder of PlanetForward.org, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, and former CNN Washington bureau chief

Hirsch described the event: "Biodiversity loss, threats to water supplies, climate change, the loss of rainforests and honeybees, and lead-infused drinking water are complex problems with diverse causes and effects. And any solutions to these problems will also have diverse and not completely predictable impacts. To paraphrase Einstein, we cannot address complex environmental problems at the same level of thinking that created them. But the kind of thinking that is required to address these issues is a form of brilliance that emerges not from solitary genius but from people learning to think together across the barriers of political philosophy, social group, and cultural perspective. Our ability to think together is innate - it's what has made humanity as successful as we are, and we all use it every day. The main threat to our ability to think together to address the large-scale environmental problems we now face is increasing polarization. Polarization is leading people on all sides of the issues to expend energy on demonizing others and validating our own positions, and is impoverishing our individual and collective thinking just when we need it most. We can do better."

Closer to campus, members of the ESF community joined the March for Science at Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse. The event was a satellite march aligned with the national March for Science.