Depolarizing The Environment: Thinking Broadly About Science, Policy and Politics

SUNY Conversation in the Disciplines


Dr. Steven F Hayward, is the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Visiting Professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Public Policy, and was the inaugural visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2013-14. He is the author of six books including The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980, The Age of Reagan: The Conservative Counter-Revolution, 1980-1989., and the Almanac of Environmental Trends. He writes daily on, one of the nation's most-read political websites.
Dr. Sarah Pralle, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. She is the author of several articles on environmental politics and policy, and is author of the book, Branching Out, Digging In: Environmental Advocacy and Agenda Setting (Georgetown University Press, 2006).
Dr. Quentin Wheeler, is President of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Prior to joining ESF, he was professor of systematic entomology at Cornell University, director of the division of environmental biology at the National Science Foundation, keeper and head of entomology in London’s Natural History Museum, and vice president and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University. He writes a feature on recently discovered species for the Observer newspaper in London and is author or editor of six books, most recently What on Earth? 100 of Our Planet’s Most Amazing New Species.

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For those participants who are not employed at SUNY-ESF, complimentary parking is available in the SU Irving Garage. Please visit for a map and to locate the parking garage. Please view the walking map from the garage to the Gateway Center.


There are numerous hotels and motels in the Syracuse area and you are welcome to reserve space where you desire. The following hotels are suggestions:

  • Genesee Grande Hotel, 1060 East Genesee St., Syracuse, NY; (315) 476-4212
  • Parkview Hotel, 713 East Genesee St, Syracuse, NY; (315) 701-2600
  • Skyler Hotel (Certified LEED Platinum), 601 S Crouse Ave, Syracuse, NY; (800) 365-4663
  • More area lodging options

February 13, 2015, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Reception to Follow
SUNY-ESF Gateway Center

Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported this event!

Program Description

From land use conflict to climate change to hydrofracking, environmental issues often polarize our politics and culture. Why should this be? Is it political opportunism? Is it scientific ignorance? Is it an academic monoculture, insulated from the realities of the world? What avenues, if any, exist for constructive engagement across political divides? What can we, as academics, do to improve things?

Join us at SUNY ESF for a thought-provoking Conversations in the Disciplines on the topic “Depolarizing the Environment. Thinking broadly about science, policy and politics”. We will explore how the science of the environment can better engage the political and social realms we inhabit, and how to foster a culture of intellectual openness at the difficult interface of environment, politics, culture and science.

Please join us for what promises to be a stimulating day of formal presentations, breakout meetings and panel discussions.

Preliminary Program Agenda

February 13, 2015

8:30 AM Check-in
9:00 AM Introductions, Dr. Scott Turner
9:15 AM Dr. Steven Hayward, Plenary Presentation
9:45 AM Dr. Sarah Pralle, Plenary Presentation
10:15 AM AM Break
10:30 AM Dr. Quentin Wheeler, Plenary Presentation
11:00 AM Panel Discussion with Plenary Presenters: Drs. Pralle, Hayward, and Wheeler
12:15 PM Lunch
1:15 PM

Small Group Brainstorm Challenge:

What sorts of capacities can we train ourselves and our students in to better navigate the complexities of uncertain science, diverse values, and polarized politics?

2:30 PM

Panel Expansion and Large Group Discussion

What sorts of institutions can best support environmental problem-solving in a fractured world? What is the role of academia? What is the role of science?

4:15 PM Closing remarks from our Plenary Presenters: Drs. Pralle, Hayward, and Wheeler
5:00 PM Reception


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