Students and faculty gathered in the CUB Lair Tuesday at noon for an Under the Big Tent debate to discuss the relationship between humans and the environment.
During the debate the public had the opportunity to ask a panel of students, faculty and a community partner questions about environmental issues, as well as discuss the human influence on natural disasters.
“Humans need to find way to accommodate the environment; the environment should not accommodate humans,” said Robi Nilson, the Environmental Task Force chair and Under the Big Tent panelist.
Also on the panel was senior history and political science major Alexander Smith.
“If you want to change the way the world operates you have to get involved,” he said. “I expect that an open forum would provide a more intellectual and academic setting to discuss these environmental issues, and allow people to get involved outside of the classroom.”
The panelists included Nilson and Smith, as well as instructor and geophysicist Katie Cooper and community partner Aly Lamar, from the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute.
When discussing the human influence on the frequency of natural disasters, Cooper spoke about the impact of human induced stress on the earth’s plates.
“Dams increase the amount of weight sitting on a region area,” she said. “Some regions are under more stress than others, so understanding where these stressed areas are is important.”
Other questions the public asked included the panel’s opinion on business regulations, how natural disasters can be avoided, as well as what role the government plays in averting potential natural disasters that are avoidable.
Under the Big Tent is a project aimed to involve the campus and extended community in the debate of critical issues, according the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) website.
The debate is put on by the CCE about three to four times every semester, CCE assistant director Michael Schwartz-Oscar said.
While questions were answered and discussed, a clipboard was passed around for participants to sign up for Under the Big Tent’s Facebook discussion group, for those that wanted to stay involved.
Schwartz-Oscar said the group discusses pressing concerns and debates topics about the environment, and he hopes that more students start talking and respectfully debatingits these important societal and environmental issues.
Facilitating the discussion was Cailin Huyck Orr, an assistant professor of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.
“It’s the students’ responsibility to be well informed, and it’s students more than anyone who have access to information and need to make use of it,” she said. “They will be making policies and regulations in the future.”
To follow the Big Tent Debate, join their Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/269710386382982.