The UW-Madison Environmental Breakfast Seminar
(Sponsored by the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies)
The chief goal of the seminar is to promote broad interdisciplinary
conversation among colleagues interested in any and all aspects of the
environment. We pride ourselves in having regular members representing
the full range of intellectual divisions of the campus, as well as members
from outside the university whose professional work involves environmental
issues on a regular basis. The format of the seminar is intentionally
designed to encourage regular participation in the hope of fostering genuine
collegiality, even real friendship, among colleagues who might not otherwise
cross paths with each other on a regular basis. It's a great place
to build and engage a genuine intellectual community, and we are eager
to involve new folks in our early-morning enterprise.
What perhaps makes the seminar most unusual is its early
hour: we meet for a 75-minute conversation over breakfast every two
weeks. We know the hour is early, but we've moved it up by 15 minutes
so that the sessions now run from 7:30-8:45 on (roughly) alternate Tuesday
mornings. The virtue of this hour is that there are rarely any conflicting
meetings or classes in this slot, and since one of our goals is to build
a strong sense of community among UW colleagues and Madison environmental
professionals, regular participation is something we try hard to facilitate.
How the Seminar Works:
- Although we occasionally make exceptions, we generally
prefer presentations by regular members as opposed to invited guests.
- We ask members of the group to serve as "discussion
launchers" roughly once a year.
- The job of the discussion launcher is to talk for 30-40
minutes with the goal of provoking lively discussion, not just lecturing.
- No prior reading is expected, so that seminar members
can show up with no advance preparation.
- Discussion launchers are asked to address their peers
as if they were speaking to intelligent undergraduates who are capable
of understanding anything that is well explained even if they have little
prior knowledge about it.
- Discussion launchers are asked to supply their own A-V
equipment because we have no budget to rent same and I have no clerical
staff to handle ordering it.
- The seminar is open to UW-Madison faculty and staff
members and invited members of the greater Madison community.
- We ask members to come as frequently as they can, ideally
not just for sessions on topics that interest them (though everyone is
If all this sounds intriguing and tempting to you, please come give
it a try. Who knows? You might get hooked, and we'd love to
have you join us!
Seminar Meeting Dates for Academic Year 2012-2013:
The Environmental Breakfast Seminar meets from 7:30-8:45am on alternate Tuesdays. We always gather at Memorial Union, in a room designated on the "Today in the Union" (TITU) bulletin boards near the entrances of the building. Meetings this year are on the following dates:
9/18: Launching the New Semester: Introductions and Brainstorms
10/2: Steve Brick, "High Voltage Electric Transmission Lines...High Voltage Controversy"
10/16: Paul Robbins, "No Going Back: How the Nelson Institute Can Help Convene a Transition to the Environment of the Future"
10/30: John Nelson, "Philanthropy's Role in UW-Madison's Environmental Future: What Are the Big Ideas?"
11/13: Roundtable Conversation: "Assessing the Environmental Significance of the 2012 Election"
11/27: Tom Heberlein, "Environmental Attitudes Revisited: How Does Something That Doesn't Exist Have Such Important Consequences?"
1/29: Roundtable Conversation: "Philanthropy's Role in UW-Madison's Environmental Future: Continuing the Discussion" (a follow-up to our session with John Nelson on October 30)
2/12: Sharon Dunwoody, "The Social Norms Path to Behavior Change"
2/26: Jim Feldman, UW-Oshkosh, "Sustainability in the Classroom and Curriculum"
3/12: Dave Cieslewicz, "Should Madison Secede from Wisconsin?"
4/23: Salvör Jónsdóttir, "Urban Agriculture: A European Perspective"
How to Join the Seminar:
If you would like to be added to the email list for the
seminar, just send a request to Bill Cronon at email@example.com.
Past Seminar Presentations:
For a complete list of past presentations to the seminar, click