From OHIO to OU: Three Bobcats Represent at Environmental Journalism Conference

November 4, 2015

Ohio University past, present and future appeared last month in Norman, Oklahoma for the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalism (SEJ). Three OHIO Bobcats: a student, an alumnus and a faculty member, participated in the multi-day conference of the country’s leading environmental journalists hosted by Oklahoma University. 

Cassie Kelly is a senior journalism major earning an environmental studies certificate while editing the online College Green Magazine.  She attended the SEJ Conference to learn from fellow environmental journalists and find the next internship.

Currently writing for Environmental Monitor, Kelly said, “SEJ has given me a strong network of professionals to turn to. I feel as though the conference has made me much more equipped with the tools I need to be an environmental journalist. My passion was made even stronger by attending the conference and I plan to attend many more in the future.”    

Craig Butler, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, came to Norman to speak on a panel entitled, “Trouble at the Tap: Beyond the Toledo Water Crisis.”  Butler, who earned a Master of Science in Environmental Studies from OHIO, described his adaptive management strategy for tackling Lake Erie algae blooms and similar water quality challenges around the state. 

Policymakers are “trying to build an airplane as it goes down the runway” in order to respond to today’s crisis while simultaneously working to answer many outstanding scientific questions and to adjust policy responses to evolving problems, Butler said. This two-step strategy, according to Butler, is designed to keep people safe today while attacking the root causes of the problem.

Geoff Dabelko is a professor in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and director of the Environmental Studies Program. It was Dabelko’s fourth SEJ annual meeting, an opportunity to connect with environmental journalists he has come to know after two plus decades working on international environmental issues. 

“During my 15 years at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, we regularly connected with environmental journalists who wanted to go beyond the day’s headlines to investigate the more complex stories behind environment, development and security,”  Dabelko said. 

Dabelko spoke in a session entitled “Meltdown: Climate Change and Political Instability” where he highlighted insights from a recent effort to support the Group of 7 foreign ministers.  A New Climate for Peace, the product of an author team from Germany, France, Britain and the United States, outlined compound risks created by climate change and suggested practical steps to address climate and fragility risks. Dabelko was part of this author team through his continued work with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program, a program he directed for 15 years before joining the Voinovich School faculty three years ago.