Read the latest installment of The Commons, a bi-monthly newsletter for Nelson Institute alumni and friends.
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies University of Wisconsin–Madison THE COMMONS
Nelson 50th logo
As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nelson Institute and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we invite you to join us in celebrating Earth Day every day during the Year of the Environment. This special year-long celebration will feature lectures, films, performances, and special events that will honor the legacy of Earth Day founder and Nelson Institute namesake, Gaylord Nelson, while expanding the Institute’s mission to inspire and educate the next generation of environmental leaders. To learn more visit our 50th web site.
Join the Nelson Institute and its partners on Thursday, November 21 from 7-8 p.m. at Dejope Hall for a special Native November Everyone's Earth event with the Fall 2019 UW-Madison Elder-in-Residence, Mary Louise Defender Wilson. A nationally renowned traditional Dakotah/Hidatsa elder, storyteller, and traditionalist enrolled at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation of North Dakota, Mary Louise Defender Wilson has been honored for her artistry with multiple Native American music and spoken word awards. We invite you to join us for a special evening with Mary Louise Defender Wilson where we will explore the power of storytelling and traditional ecological knowledge. Read more.

As a part of Native November, the Nelson Institute and its partners are excited to host a 20th anniversary screening of the documentary film, The Return of Navajo Boy from 5-7 p.m. on November 15. Following the screening there will be a panel discussion with The Return of Navajo Boy Director and Co-Producer, Jeff Spitz, Elsie Mae Begay and John Wayne Cly who are featured in the film, as well as James Adakai, the President of Oljato Chapter Navajo Nation. While the event is sold out, we invite you to join us for a Facebook Live of the discussion that evening. To participate, simply go to the Nelson Institute Facebook page around 6:15 p.m. on Friday, November 15 to watch the discussion live, or visit the Nelson Institute Facebook page at any point after the event to view the discussion video. Additionally, The Return of Navajo Boy is available for purchase online.
As the newly named Director of the Nelson Institute Center for Culture, History and the Environment (CHE) and Bradshaw Knight Professor of the Environmental Humanities, Anna Vemer Andrzejewski is working to bring the Wisconsin Idea to the forefront through public humanities. A professor in the Art History department, Andrzejewski studies the history of North American vernacular architecture, especially of the post-World War II period, but is equally passionate about connecting the public with a greater understanding of how human cultures impact the natural world. Read more.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Wisconsin is home to 64,793 farms on 14.3 million acres. Of those acres, it’s estimated that about six percent are utilizing conservation agriculture methods such as cover crop. Although this number is continuing to grow, it remains hard to measure and even harder to know exactly why some farmers are choosing to utilize these methods, while others are not. To gain a greater understanding of these challenges, Nelson Institute Environmental Observation and Informatics (EOI) alumna, Alana Herro partnered with UW-Madison researchers and organizations throughout the state to test a new method for tracking conservation farming that links space observations with ground surveys. Read more.
As a part of the Year of the Environment celebration our fall events included a mix of films, storytelling, and discussions that highlighted topics ranging from climate change to public lands. In September, many of you joined us for Tales from Planet Earth and the premier of the film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, which aligned with the Climate Action Summit. We were also excited to have many of you join us for the Jordahl Storytelling Workshop series as well as the Jordahl Public Lands Lecture, Land Stories: Voices of the Past, Present, and Future, which featured diverse voices sharing personal stories about the importance of public lands. Overall, the Nelson Institute’s fall events have allowed for meaningful conversations regarding our environment and the ways in which we interact. Thank you to those who attended. We hope to see you again soon at a future event.
Join us in celebrating the Year of the Environment by participating in the Earth Day@50 – Arts Initiative. This initiative is part of a year-long celebration honoring the past fifty years of environmental stewardship and the power of artistic expression in connecting people, transforming perspectives, and igniting action. Our calendar is your guide to environmental art events on campus and in the greater community. We encourage you to browse the listings or submit an event. We also invite you to check out the Earth Day@50 Arts Spotlight in the Upcoming Events section of this publication. 
Cathy Middlecamp, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies professor and director for education and research in the Office of Sustainability, recently helped to lead the University of Wisconsin-Madison's first broad sustainability assessment through the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). Administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, STARS reporting is a “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. Read more.
In honor of our winter 2019 graduates, we encourage you to make a gift in support of the Nelson Institute Student Experience Fund. 100% of donations received are used to support fun, community-building experiences for Nelson students, such as ice cream socials, movie nights, spooky Science Hall nights, study brunches, commencement celebrations, and much more! Please consider making a gift that will benefit future generations of Nelson students. Gifts in any amount are gratefully welcomed!
The Nelson Institute recently welcomed two new faculty members, Grace Bulltail and Zuzana Burivalova. Bulltail, a member of the Crow Tribe and a descendant of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Tribes of Fort Berthold, North Dakota, focuses her research on water resource management, water policy, tribal sovereignty, and watershed impacts from natural resource development. Burivalova is a conservation scientist and ecologist who focuses on tropical forest biodiversity. Her research investigates which conservation strategies succeed or fail in tropical forest conservation. She uses new tools, such as bioacoustics, where traditional field methods aren’t sufficient. Read more about Bulltail's work at this link and for more on Burivalova's  work, click here
 During the Year of the Environment, as the Nelson Institute celebrates its 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Institute is also proud to celebrate all of the alumni contributing to environmental studies. As a part of this celebration, Nelson Institute Dean Paul Robbins traveled to San Francisco for the “Fighting Extinction” event where UW-Madison alumni from the Bay area came together to discuss how the environmental movement has transformed lives and how the next 50 years may determine the fate of our planet. Read More.
As cities and states move to increase renewable energy usage, two Nelson Institute alumni will be leading the way on Long Island. August Schultz, Environmental Observation and Informatics (EOI) alumnus and Jessica Price, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development (now Environmental Conservation) and Environment and Resources alumna, are a part of The Nature Conservancy’s Long Island Solar Roadmap Project, which is working to locate low-impact sites for solar energy installations on Long Island. The locations, which will be identified using a variety of data, will aid New York in meeting its goal of receiving 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Read more.
From October 21-25, 2019 Nelson Institute students attended educational sessions as a part of the career preparation event, Leveling Up: A week of tips and assists for your postcollege game plan.  This event helps students to jump-start their environmental careers while giving students an opportunity to connect with alumni. Thank you to our alumni and friends for continuing to support this event and future Nelson Institute alumni.
Upcoming Events
November 15, 2019
sold out event

November 21, 2019
7-8 p.m., Dejope Hall

Tuesdays, 3:30 p.m.,
811 AOS Building

Thursdays, 4:15-5:15 p.m., 1153 Mechanical Engineering

November 14 at 8 p.m.
November 15 at 8 p.m.
November 16 at 2:30 p.m.
Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space, Lathrop Hall

April 20, 2020
Monona Terrace
Join us in commemorating our 50th anniversary by purchasing branded merchandise, shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, bags, and more.

2019 Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement
Monica White >>

2018 Jordahl Lecture - Wild and Scenic Rivers: An American Legacy
Tim Palmer >>

2018 The Great Lakes to Great Lakes Initiative
Russ Feingold >>



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Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison · 550 N Park Street · Madison, WI 53706 · USA