Tech News: The Student Newspaper of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Quick Navigation
Issue: Section:

Tuesday, April 10, 2001 A Publication of the Newspeak Association Volume No. 66, Issue 10

Front Page
-Student Pugwash conference calls for individual responsibility
-Tough Questions, Real Answers
-Student techniques for procrastination abound

News
-News Headlines
-NASA hopes to snap losing streak with Odyssey
-Scientists say precious metals originated in neutron-star
-Police Log

Opinions
-Extremists and the men who hate them
-Imposter rents videos, seeks psychiatric help
-China joins lengthening string of leadership tests for Bush
-Tax Cut Reminiscent of "Trickle-Down" Economics
-The little things...

Letters to the Editor
-Response to Mr. Sherman's Letter
-A spring scene at WPI

Features
-Free Stuff Anyone? lastest job fair supplies goodies
-New special interest housing approved

Arts & Entertainment
-Annual Metal and Hardcore fest stomps through Worcester again
-WWPI brings The Carla Ryder Band to WPI
-Shane Koyczan's poetry infuses audience with energy
-Vapor Transmission tour visits the Palladium
-What's Happening

Announcements
-Club Corner

Sports
-Women's Lacrosse flattens Framingham 19-2
-Kaufman named national coaching VP
-Score Board
-Upcoming Contests

Student Pugwash conference calls for individual responsibility


by Eric Tapley
Class of 2001

WPI Student Pugwash hosted a regional conference on Resources and Multinational Corporations during the weekend of March 30 - April 1. Participants came from WPI, Boston University, the University of Alberta, and Washington, DC, to engage in discussions about the impact of climate change on water and land, the difficult issues surrounding energy and alternative fuels, international concerns and equity problems, and to have fun.

Conference participants heard from speakers on various topics, and then met in smaller "working groups" to discuss these issues in greater depth. These working groups discussed energy issues, land and water resources, global environmental problems, and multinational corporations. After meeting twice the working groups made creative presentations to other participants consisting of tough questions in their issue area and a list of things students can do to make a difference.

The conference began on Friday night with a keynote speech by Dr. John Reed from TecMRKT Works. He encouraged students to "think differently" and make an impact on the world by developing and demanding new kinds of energy. Dr. Reed stressed the important role WPI students play in developing the efficient technologies needed for the future.

On Saturday Dr. Dann Sklarew of IW:LEARN gave a panel lecture on the increasingly constrained availability of fresh water and the impact that will have around the world. Pablo Suarez, a doctoral candidate at Boston University, gave a talk on the impact climate change will have on land resources around the world, and gave examples from his research on that impact in the Greater Boston area. Mr. Suarez was very eloquent in his belief that what we need to make a difference globally is not more technological efficiency, but a shift in values so we learn to live in a sustainable or sufficient, manner.

The afternoon session on Saturday consisted of two panel lectures, one by Dr. John Bush, a former Vice President at Gillette, and Dr. Raymond Scattone, a technological humanist from RIT. Dr. Bush spoke about the challenges faced at Gillette as they became an international corporation that wanted to stay a good environmental citizen. Dr. Scattone reiterated many of the issues brought to light by earlier speakers, focusing on the role students have as responsible members of our local and global communities.

Working groups assembled after the panel lectures on Saturday to talk further about the issues raised by the speakers and from students' everyday lives. These working groups generated a list of tough questions related to their issue area, and a list of things students, can do to make a change in that area. For a list of those tough questions and action items, please see the end of this article.

Following dinner the working groups - composed of students, faculty, and guest speakers - gave presentations based on their sessions. These were creative, often zany, and fun. The global environmental problems working group tried to underscore resource inequalities by playing a "bottles game". The participants were split into two groups to represent actual global inequalities, one with 80% of the people and 20% of the bottles, the other with 20% of the people and 80% of the bottles. The organizers then asked for these groups to give up 20% of their resources, or bottles, while making sure everyone had their hand on at least one bottle. After a couple of iterations this amply demonstrated the inequality problems with global resource availability. The game ended with 80% of the participants sharing just a few bottles, while each of the people in the 20% group had a few bottles to themselves.

On Sunday, we heard from WPI Professor Michael Radzicki about System Dynamics, a "major in problem solving" here at WPI. Professor Radzicki explained how System Dynamics could be used to find solutions to complex social and environmental problems, citing examples from past research he and others have done.

Discussions continued to take place between the panel lectures, during meals, and following the working group presentations on Saturday during a special "game night" event. A post-conference evaluation gave high marks to the amount of engagement and fun that was developed into the conference proceedings, casting an optimistic tone on potentially sobering topic.


[ Tech News | Latest Edition | Archives | Advertising | Submission Policies | About Tech News | WPI ]

Copyright © 1994-2001 by The WPI Newspeak Association. The contents of these pages may not be reproduced without permission.
All pages are maintained by the Newspeak Association. Contact technews@wpi.edu with questions, comments, or corrections.