Food for the future: A vision for New England farming and food production

Reposted from BrandeisNOW

By Julian Cardillo

Aug. 29, 2014

Cut down trees to benefit the environment and improve human health?

That may seem counter-intuitive, but Brian Donahue, professor of environmental studies, says in the long term converting some of New England’s forests into farmland and pastures could create a food system that is healthy, sustainable and prevents global warming. It also is a critical step in enabling New England to produce half of its food needs by 2060.

Donahue is the lead author of A New England Food Vision, a perspective on the future of the region’s food needs. Calling access to food a basic human right, he and co-authors, who include researchers from the University of New Hampshire, College of the Atlantic, University of Southern Maine and University of Vermont, propose changes in food production and distribution across the region.

At present, five percent of New England’s land is used to produce food while 80 percent is forested. The researchers call for using 15 percent, or 6 million acres, of the region’s land for food production.

“We are not talking about running out and cutting down a bunch of trees,” Donahue explains. “It would be gradual, happening over a half of century or more. We need adequate conservation. You want to be careful about how you go about this, as forests give us immense benefits.” Read more here!

Add comment September 17th, 2014

Waste Land Screening

On March 27, Latin American and Latino Studies, Environmental Studies, and Fine Arts UDRs hosted a documentary screening of Waste Land. Students came together from all disciplines to watch the film while eating South American food.

The film is about Vik Muniz, a famous Brazilian artist who currently lives in the United States. Muniz traveled to the world’s largest landfill near Rio de Janeiro to speak with catadores, or people who pick up recyclable material from the landfill for work.


Muniz took photographs of the catadores, then worked with the catadores to make artwork in the shape of the portraits with recyclable materials. After selling photographs of the artwork, all of the money went to the catadores. With the money, they bought equipment and a truck and built a learning center and a library so that people could learn about recycling.


The movie focused on the lives of the catadores and how they were moved by the experiences of creating art from recyclable materials then seeing their portraits become famous.

The screening was followed by a discussion about the lives of the catadores, recycling, and artwork. Overall, it was a meaningful film that brought students of many different disciplines together.


Add comment April 7th, 2014

Accepted Students Day

Accepted Students Day, the main recruitment day for the upcoming Class of 2018, was held this past Sunday, April 6th. By the time the Academic Fair opened, students flocked to the Environmental Studies booth where the UDRs, Esther Mann and Adam Krebs, stood. There was a line of eager students and parents in front of the booth for the two hours that the fair was held. The parents’  most common question was, “Tell me about the major” while the students asked, “Can I double major?” Most people were most interested in the experiential learning opportunities, the ratio of science and social science courses, and internships, yet they also asked about faculty, research opportunities, specific focuses in the major, study abroad opportunities, clubs and ways to get evolved, and future job options. Overall, the students were extremely excited to start learning Environmental Studies at Brandeis this upcoming fall.

Add comment April 7th, 2014

Brandeis NOW Features Nail Salon Study

Students in the Environmental Health and Justice Program, taught by Professor Laura Goldin as a part of the Justice Brandeis Semester program, went out to the field to study Volatile Organic Compound Levels (VOCs) in nail salons. They found that many out of the 15 salons they visited had higher than acceptable levels, and gave advice on measures that could be used to lower these levels. You can read more about the study here.


Add comment April 4th, 2014

Environmental Studies Meet the Majors Pumpkin Roast

The Environmental Studies UDRs, Adam Krebs and Esther Mann, are hosting an Environmental Studies Meet the Majors Pumpkin Roast on Wednesday, October 9 at 5 PM in SCC 313. It will be a unique opportunity for students to learn more about the area of study and celebrate the fall by eating roasted stuffed pumpkins. Vegan and Gluten-Free options are available so that everyone can enjoy the delicious foods, and anyone who is interested is more than welcome to come by.

Faculty members Dan Perlman and Brian Donahue will be attending as well as URDs Adam Krebs and Esther Mann. They are asking for RSVPs, but drop-ins are welcome. If you have any questions or concerns about the event, the major, or the minor, send one of the UDRs an e-mail and they would be more than happy to help you out!

Adam Krebs,
Esther Mann,


Add comment September 30th, 2013

TapBrandeis Initiative Awarded $25,000

The TapBrandeis initiative has been granted $25,000 by The Brandeis Sustainability Fund to install hydration stations throughout campus.

TapBrandeis started as a Greening The Ivory Tower project in Environmental Studies last semester by Alina Pokhrel, Emma Balmuth-Loris, Jamie Garuti, Jeremy Goodman, Sara Taylor. This semester the group is continuing on with the project with the help of the BSF fund to install new hydration stations and encourage a behavioral shift away from the purchase of bottled-water and towards students carrying their own refillable bottle. Another fabulous step towards making Brandeis a more sustainable campus!

Add comment February 27th, 2013

Thursday, 12/13, 6:30 p.m. Environmental Internship Symposium

Thursday, Dec 13, 6:30-8:30pm, Heller School for Social Policy, G-3

Refreshments served!

Come to support friends, network & learn about the many opportunities! Welcome for all or just a part. Recommended for all students hoping to do an internship!


Dena Ayzikovich: Zoo New England
Shanglai Shangguan & Jacyln Kellner: Healthy Waltham
Alisa Rosnerita: Waltham Recycling & Energy Department
Becca Richman: Waltham Fields Community Farm
Christine Amanda: Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
Liza Ansher: EPA Washington DC: Urban Waters Program
Anna Khazan: Environmental Health & Engineering
Iosefa Percival: Conservation Int’l: Ocean Acidification & the Pacific Islands
Rachel Usnik: Coalition on Environment & Jewish Life
Vivian Zeng: Queens, NY Botanical Garden
Lisa Purdy: Ride for the Future: A Better Future Project
Elliot Lustig: Maria Mitchell Association, Nantucket
Mikhail Kern: Ithaca, NY Hydrilla Task Force
Katherine Chin and Raquel Kallas: New York League of Conservation Voters
Caty Fairclough: Connecticut Audubon Society
Sam Porter: Cape Cod National Seashore

Add comment December 11th, 2012

Campus Sustainability Day Wednesday, 10/24

Tomorrow, October 24, is Campus Sustainability Day! Look for stands and events happening around campus to raise awareness about living sustainably at college. It is also National Food Day, so join in on The Big Apple Crunch on the great lawn at 11:50am to support local food choices! BYOA (Bring your own apple!).

Add comment October 23rd, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 10 a.m., Second Annual WATCH Out Run/Walk

On Sunday, April 22nd at 10AM, Brandeis University will be hosting the second annual WATCH Out Run/Walk on the Brandeis campus. The run/walk (depending on each individual’s fitness level) is roughly 5k (3 miles) around loop road, beginning at the Spingold intersection. Tickets are $10, and all of the proceeds from the event go to the WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic in Waltham, a free, drop in service staffed completely by Brandeis students open to anyone in the community who needs help with any sort of housing issues ranging from evictions to tenant/landlord relations. More specifically, the money will go into a fund to help those in need of emergency housing pay for first and last month’s rent, or security deposit.

Last year the WATCH Out Run was very successful, as we had just under 80 people show up for the run. However, this year we are hoping to easily break the century mark. It will be a great opportunity for students, faculty, staff and people from the Waltham community to get together for a great cause!

When? Sunday, April 22nd 10-11am (meet at the great lawn to start the run)

Interested? $10 to register (includes a free wristband, free snacks and motivation along the way!). Buy tickets at: SCC box office: open Monday-Friday 12-6pm and Saturday 12-4pm, or by calling 781-736-3400 or the day of the race!

Environmental Studies students have been very active in the WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic, as profiled here.

Add comment April 15th, 2012

Professors Laura Goldin and Eric Olsen Presenting at the Massachusetts Sustainable Communities Conference

Professor Laura Goldin, Director of the Environmental Studies Program, and Professor Eric Olsen from the Heller School and a lecturer for ENVS, are presenting (with ENVS students) at the Massachusetts Sustainable Communities Conference on April 20 at UMass Boston.

Their session:

College Student Projects in Communities – Learning While Doing

Student projects can elevate the sometimes theoretical learning process to real life learning experiences, connecting education to community and business interests. From research to action, students are important sustainability stakeholders. The Brandeis professors and students will share examples from the Environmental Health and Justice JBS Nail Salon Air Quality Study, the Brandeis/WATCH Housing Advocacy Clinic, and other community projects

Add comment April 12th, 2012

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