The Environmental Movement in Alberta (Part V)
Environmentalism in Alberta’s Universities
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People who drain slews and clear bush need not study wild flora and fauna in minutiae. Wildlife trivia is useful only to those wishing to thwart improvement of wasteland.
Conservation Biology and Ecology are pseudo-scientific political ideologies. Conservationism is a policy platform for restraining resource extraction and frontier settlement. Conservation Biology is the study of life forms in furtherance of conservationism. Conservation Biology is as much a warping of science as would be a Libertarian Physics or a Communist Chemistry.
Ecology from its 19th century inception to the present has been a value-saturated creed cloaked in scientific jargon. Ecologists have always trafficked in population and energy crises. They have always romanticized and deified Nature. Ecologists have long boasted that theirs is the “subversive science”, inextricably tied to undermining entrepreneurial industrialization.
Alberta’s universities do not offer degrees in Ecology, Conservation Biology, or Environmentalism, nor are any faculties so named. Subversive agendas must be smuggled amidst practical programs.
Alberta’s universities are primary social carriers of environmentalism. In the late 1960s Alberta’s Biology students were instructed to place flies in terrariums, observe their population growth, and extrapolate this into neo-Malthusian commentaries on human over-population. Psychology classes discussed the behaviour of monkeys in overcrowded cages. U of Calgary Geography students were instructed to report on local environmental problems.
An academic party line was evident in a 1968 guest lecture on overpopulation at Lethbridge U given by U of Alberta Dean of Agriculture, C. F. Bentley. He predicted mass famine by 1975 and fuel exhaustion by 2000. Billions would die! Bentley chastised as irresponsible local critics who said there was plenty of vacant land around Lethbridge. (88)
In 1971 Dr. Walter Worth, chair of Alberta’s Commission on Educational Planning, declared “environmentaleducation therefore must dominate the future horizon—if there is a future horizon.” (89)
In keeping with the de-industrialization agenda, universities proliferated and ballooned. There are now many universities in Alberta, each hosting warrens of eco-activists.
Edmonton’s University of Alberta has 37,000 students. Of its 18 faculties three are environmentalist bastions: Science; Native Studies; and Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences. U of A subsidiary, the 988-student Augustana College, also hosts a green platoon. (90)
U of Calgary has 29,000 students, 2,761 academic staff, and 17 faculties divided into 60 departments. U of C greenies are nested in: Environmental Science; Earth Sciences; Science, Technology and Society; and the Faculty of Environmental Design. Coming on stream is the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy whose new ultra-green building will provide space for 1,000 students. Announced in 2010 was U of C’s Carbon Management Canada. With $25 million in funds from the federal ecoTrust Fund, Carbon Management will hire 100 energy, environmental, and sociology profs from 21 universities for CO2 reduction research. (Another $25 million from this Fund went to U of A for clean oilsands research). (91)
Mount Royal University has 9,793 full-time students and an annual budget of $174 million. Mount Royal’s Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning won a gold LEED certificate. The university itself won the 2007 City of Calgary’s Blue Sky Award for Environmental Achievement. (92)
Lethbridge University now has several faculties (Nursing, Management, Fine Arts, Education, etc). In Arts and Sciences one finds the greenish Departments of Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences. (93)
King’s University’s 630 students enjoy an environmentally conscious campus managed from a creation-stewardship perspective. The King’s website links to 80 Christian ENGOs. (94)
Sales pitches are revealing.
U of A’s 108-prof Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Science (ALES) advertizes 11 types of B.Sc. degree. ALES’s View Book boasts about their unique skill in “valuing environmental goods and services.” Plastered with photos of models enjoying the great outdoors, the View Book looks unmistakably like an ENGO brochure. Professors in Tilly hats pose before iconic wilderness backdrops.
ALES’s Renewable Resources Department self-describes as:
“...a diverse group of academics united by a passion for wise management of natural resources based on understanding the integration of landscape elements and the biota with which we share our planet. Never has the need for our sort of science been more crucial…”
ALES’s Rural Economy Department, self-describes as:
“...a unique group of applied economists and sociologists” focusedon “agriculture, forestry and issues of the environment.”
ALES’s bizarro Human Ecology Department probes “an interdisciplinary socio-ecological field that uses a holistic systems approach.” They study the “near environment,” like clothing. The main source of pride for Human Ecology’s 40 academics (95% female) is a vast collection of exotic garments.
Augustana U’s Enviro Science and Enviro Studies departments:
“Both explore issues related to our growing human population, use and overuse of resources, damage caused by pollution and disturbance and the endangerment and extinction of species and natural ecosystems… Without informed and caring citizens the deterioration of our natural environment will continue. In addition, society has great demand for Environmental Science graduates as employment in the environmental sector is growing faster than overall employment.”
U of C’s Faculty of Environmental Design crows:
“...a long history and an international reputation in areas related to architecture, environmental design, ecologically sensitive intervention and sustainability.”
U of C’s Earth Sciences program takes a multi-disciplinary approach to globalization, climate change, and biospheric interaction because “environmental issues facing our planet are related to the interaction between natural systems and society.” Students are promised careers doing environmental impact assessments, reclamation, and enviro-monitoring.
Lethbridge U’s Enviro-Sci dean claims:
“There is no better time or place to study environmental science.”
Mount Royal U’s Enviro-Sci Department’s pitch is:
“As the third wave of environmental concern spurs global environmental awareness and green job growth, MRU continues to offer environmental programs to keep pace… the environmental profession is Canada’s fastest growing and most diverse field of employment.”
Mount Royal’s Earth Sciences Department lures with:
“A recent United Nations report proclaimed that Earth Scientists are today’s key players in building a sustainable world… Prepare for a career where you can make a difference.”
Both departments promise careers in conservation, land use planning, and “environmental industries”.
Most university students enrol in pre-professional programs, like pre-medicine, to gain entry into professional colleges. They endure a purgatory in Arts and Sciences where the course menu is divided between the general and profession-specific. As enviro-propaganda courses are sown throughout this menu, all students are subjected to a modicum of indoctrination. Special programs train enviro-movement cadre.
For instance, U of C’s Natural Sciences program is the “flagship B.Sc.” for pre-professional students and is not very eco. The Natural Sciences program is much larger than the Environmental Science program, which offers a social/science approach to environmental/political issues. The Enviro-Sci program (est. 1996) is a small “hands on” school: five profs, 40 students. Courses are restricted to Enviro-Sci majors. The emphasis is on field research. Similarly, U of C’s Earth Sciences program employs only four profs. Most Earth-Sci courses are from the Arts and Sciences menu.
Again, U of C’s Faculty of Environmental Design offers two Masters programs: Architecture and Environmental Design. The Architecture program is practical (however, it increasingly emphasizes solar power, green buildings, and spirituality). On the other hand, Environmental Design’s 15 profs include luminaries like Dr. Getachew Assefa whose specialties are sustainable development and eco-efficiency, Dr. Cormack Gates (bison and rattlesnake conservation), and Dr. Marco Musiani (conservation biology and landscape ecology).
U of C’s Science, Technology and Society is part of its Faculty of Communications & Culture (C&C). Students must take one natural science discipline up to the 400 level and supplement this with C&C courses such as Development 201 where they can learn of “thedevastating effect globalization can have on developing countries.” In Development 403 Inuit scholar Dr. Apentik lectures on climate change.
Augustana’s two enviro departments employ 12 profs; among them: a bird-watching conservation biologist, a bat conservationist, a herbal medicine expert, a sociologist specializing in globalization’s impact on gender, and a theologist preaching on the divinity-environment connection.
Lethbridge U’s Bio-Sci Department’s practical function is teaching life sciences to nursing students. Those pursuing a Biology B.Sc., if not bound for professional college, are directed towards careers as environmental protectionists, ecologists, or aquatic specialists. The department’s 15 profs teach 39 courses of which four are deemed Enviro-Sci. Among the Biology courses are: Principles of Ecology, Ecology of Health, Evolutionary Ecology, Conservation Biology, Prairie Conservation, Field Biology, Ecosystems and Community Ecology, Aquatic Ecosystems, Environmental Physiology, and Molecular Ecology. Lethbridge’s Enviro-Sci Dept. claims a faculty and staff of 21, but these overlap with Bio-Sci. Enviro-Sci students take mostly Biology and Geology classes from the main menu plus the four Enviro-Sci classes.
On the Athabasca U course menu are: Intro to Environmental Science, Environmental Science Projects, Humanity and the Ecosphere, Environmental Change in Global Context, Environmental Change, Environmental Assessment, Community-based Environmental Protection, and Political Ecology & Global Environmental Change. (95)
Of the 19 profs employed in U of A’s ALES Faculty’s Rural Economy Department, five list their specialties as: environmental economics, resource politics and environmental risk, environmental and resource economics, environmental sociology, and social responses to ecological change.
ALES’s Renewable Resources Department’s 38 profs claim specialties like: conservation biology, endangered species ecology, reclamation, environmental risk, sustainable agriculture, wildlife management, forage crops, forest ecology, applied ecology, restoration ecology, northern environmental conservation, watershed management, and forest conservation. Half this department’s courses have “Conservation”, “Ecology”, or “Environmental Sustainability” in their titles. Overlapping Renewable Resources is the new Forest Science Department. Of its 30 courses, four have “Ecology” in their title.
U of A’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department shuffles a deck of practical Geology courses with enviro-propaganda cards like: Environment Alberta (appreciation of the province’s environmental problems), Environment Earth (pollution, global change and shoreline development), Mass Extinction (human impact on the biosphere), Intro to Global Change (environmental change caused by humans), Human Dimensions of Global Change (deforestation, climate change, pollution), Human Dimensions of Environmental Change, Environmental Change (anthropogenic impact), Resource Management and Environmental Policy (how ENGOs address scarcity and policy).
With 74 profs, 270 grad students, 120 support staff, and a research budget of $16 million, U of A’s Biological Sciences Department is the largest department on campus and one of the largest bio-sci institutions in North America.
“Ecology” is not a U of A Bio-Sci undergraduate course category. “Biology” is a course category and accounts for half the department’s courses. Of 40 Biology classes, 11 have “Ecology” in their title. Biology classes include: Conservation Biology; Wetlands Ecology; Problems in Conservation Biology; People, Pollution and the Environment; Population Ecology; and Eco-toxicology. Among the few “Botany” courses is: Global Change and Ecosystems. The “Zoology” course category offers: Wildlife Population Dynamics, Wildlife Disease, Behavioural Ecology, and Problems in Behaviour Ecology.
Nor is “Ecology” a U of A Bio-Sci graduate course category. “Ecology” is one of six informal “research interest groups” (RIG). Thirty-two full-time profs, 15 adjunct profs, and 11 professor emeriti are in the Ecology RIG. Their specialties are: parks management, wetland management, climate change, human disturbance as a conduit for ecological invasion, forestry-wildlife interaction in north-eastern Alberta, ecological modelling for conservation, wildlife management, ecological impacts of climate change on northern mammal conservation, ecological impacts of logging, climate change and planetary breathing, pollution and wild fish, modelling habitat fragmentation on wolf territoriality, forest fragmentation’s impact on insectivores, invasive species ecology, biodiversity in provincial parks, and game ranching’s negative impacts. Eco RIG’s current star, Dr. Colleen Cameron St Clair, supervises teams of grad students working on wildlife corridors and on the ecology of CO2 emissions.
King’s U’s Environmental Studies Department is divided into enviro-social and enviro-science programs. Twelve enviro classes are offered to students who must also take general biology, chemistry and sociology classes. Classes include: Humankind and the Biosphere, Environmental Impact Assessments, and the eco-creationist All Things Theology.
The symbiotic relationship between eco-activism and eco-study is endemic.
The Pembina Institute received $30,000 from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation in 2009 to enhance leadership skills of university enviro-students. Shell Canada funds a $500,000 a year program paying enviro-students to work on Nature Conservancy Canada land. Each enviro-student at King’s U is promised internships at Nature Alberta, Nature Conservancy Canada, CPAWS, etc. Lethbridge U promises enviro-students “an opportunity to work with local researchers at Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy and Alberta Conservation Association.” A seminar course designed by Prairie Conservation Forum has been taught at Lethbridge U since 1998.
Enviro-students are channelled into activism. ALES’s internal news bulletins are entirely taken up with green activism. U of C’s Environmental Design Faculty’s news postings feature stories are about solar power weenie roasts and eco-awards won by students. U of C enviro-students are pressed into the Environmental Science Students Association (ESSA) which “brings environmental awareness to our community and encourages the debate of current environmental issues”. ESSA is run by “dedicated” enviro-students. ESSA’s website links to 40 ENGOs.
Curriculums direct students into activism. U of C enviro-students monitor the “ecological integrity” of Calgary’s parks. U of A Bio-Sci grad students are “strongly encouraged” to enrol in the activist Advanced Ecology course while nine other grad courses require students to involve themselves in professor-approved “ecological topics”. Two Athabasca U environmental courses require students to become active in local environmental issues. Their Case Studies in Environmental Protection is of a “participatory educational model” wherein “a key to the design of the course is the contribution of groups involved with environmental controversies.”
Student eco-activists are not amateurs. These days “learning a living” is common. In addition to standard loans and grants, there are perks for greenies. Talisman offers seven $10,000-a-year grants to U of C Enviro-Sci students. U of A Bio-Sci Masters and Ph.D. students are guaranteed funding for three to five years at annual rates of $18,500 and $19,100. There are many greenies among U of A’s 550 “post docs” (people with Ph.D.s but without jobs earning $40,000 a year picking scraps of teaching and research). (96)
Eco-activism is not confined to students.
U of A’s Dr. David Schindler is billed by his university as “an outspoken critic on environmental issues.” Schindler rose to stardom as director (1969-89) of the Experimental Lake Project, Ontario (a highly successful environmental movement “capacity building” action within academia). Schindler is often quoted in the media in connection with anti-oilsands or anti-hydro dam activism and is usually identified as an ecologist. (His personal blurb mentions neither Ecology nor activism—here he is all ‘science guy’.) In 2008 the Gordon Foundation gave Schindler $80,186 to “study of the contamination of the Athabasca River from oilsands mining.” In May 2010 he appeared in Fort Chipewyan accompanied by Natural Resource Defence Council’s Dr. Solomon for a “pre-publication release” of his paper alleging oilsands extraction poisoned natives. A week later Schindler toured Scandinavia on Greenpeace’s anti-oilsands bandwagon. (97)
U of C professor emeritus Stephen Herrero began pushing the Y2Y mega-park at a 1994 conference where he claimed that only after the public were excluded from Y2Y lands could ecologists “build outward from them ecosystem management strategies based on long term grizzly and other mobile species viability.” In a 1970 paper Herrero expressed “soul-deep love of nature” adding “my biases and values have significantly influenced even the scientific or factual data I have collected.” Herrero influenced park policy for decades. Between 1994 and 2002 his Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project consumed $1.4 million in public funds before concluding: “sustainable human caused [grizzly] mortality will involve designing and managing people’s activities and facilities with grizzly bears in mind.” (98)
Firmly wedged into Alberta Conservation Association’s executive is U of A Biologist Dr. Lee Foote. He co-chairs ACA’s Grants in Biodiversity program which, in collaboration with the multi-university Cooperative Conservation Research Unit, doles out $20,000-a-year grants to enviro-students. ACA gives this program $225,000 a year. U of A Biologist Dr. Mark Boyce, as ACA Chair of Fisheries and Wildlife, administers a small fund for grad students doing field research. Boyce, a Safari Club International ‘Conservationist of the Year’, is often quoted in the media as a grizzly expert.
U of A’s Dr. Greg Taylor is on the board of the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI). Four of ABMI’s 20 employees have Biology Ph.D.s. ABMI’s Science Centre is on theU of A campus. (99)
On Alberta Lake Management Society’s board are two Biology Ph.D. candidates and one Stephanie Neufeld who, with an MA in Enviro-Biology, serves as Society spokesperson when not too busy at her main gig as EPCOR’s in-house watershed expert. (100)
On Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) board sits Dr. James Campbell of Queen’s University’s Western Canada Division. From 2000 to 2003 he was a development director for Nature Conservancy Canada. Joining him on AWA’s board is retired prof and environmental specialist Dr. Herb Kariel who “maintains a number of affiliations and memberships in environmental organizations.” Also on AWA’s board are U of C’s Drs. Cliff Wallis and Owen McGoldrich. Wallis worked for Alberta Parks for years before setting up a consultancy specializing in audio-visual presentations. Wallis has been on AWA’s board since 1982, serving as president from 1992 to 2002, and presently as vice-president. He received awards from CPAWS, Nature Conservancy Canada and Defenders of Wildlife. On AWA’s staff is biologist Dr. Ian Urquhart who publishes their Wildlands Advocate. Urquhart is author ofAssault on the Rockies; The Last Great Forest; and Costly Fix
U of A Biology prof Dr. Ellie Prepas’ Forest Watershed and Riparian Disturbance group chronicles the negative impacts of timber harvesting. U of A’s Dr. Naomi Krogman directs the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance and is a member of Edmonton Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Task Force. Colleague, Dr. Debra Davidson won TD’s Go Green Challenge.
Recycling Council of Alberta board member Sarah Begg is on Mount Royal U’s Enviro-Sci advisory committee and U of C’s solid waste advisory committee. Her full-time job is managing the Emerald award winning Clean Calgary Association.
U of A’s ALES Faculty runs the Ecosystem Management Emulation of Natural Disturbance. This consists of a 60-strong team of profs and grad students “striving to find the formula by which forest fibre production can fall within guidelines established by Mother Nature.” Other ALES projects partner with ENGOs to: help rural folk adapt to climate change, derive alternative energy from animal fat, and market organic products. ALES recently attracted $36 million in outside funding including money from the Scottish Forestry Trust.
U of C Environmental Design profs recently won acclaim for a report on bison conservation funded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Faculty then brought in an IUCN official to lecture on wildlife management. In 2010 an Enviro Design sponsored study on wolf genetics achieved wide media exposure.
Chair of Mount Royal’s Earth Sciences Department, Barbara McNichol is a former parks manager. Her academic specialty is population growth/commercialization’s impact on parks. She designed the curriculum.
Kings U’s Dr. John Wood is currently on sabbatical at the eco-Christian Au Sable Institute while their in-house enviro-sociologist, Dr. Randolph Haluzah-De Lay, basks in the praise arising from his groundbreakingSpeaking for Ourselves: Environmental Justice in Canada
This eco-academic-activist milieu is girded by ENGOs like: Alberta Lepidopterist’s Guild, Calgary Zoological Society, Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists, and Soil and Water Conservation Society. The “rabid moth enthusiasts” in the Lepidopterists Guild are mostly profs and wilderness-involved civil servants campaigning to protect bug habitat. Calgary Zoological Society monitors land conservancies and reintroduces species to the wild. Canadian Society of Environmental Biologists (CSEB) seeks to conserve natural resources via ecological methods. CSEB was founded by the Canadian Wildlife Service in 1958 as Canadian Society of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologists but changed its name in 1974 to incorporate the trendy “environmental” term and to welcome zoologists, limnologists, and botanists. CSEB members must have a biology degree and be employed in the field. US-based Soil and Water Conservation Society (est. 1943) represents the 7,000 conservation professionals currently implementing a “Beyond T” experiment in mass consensus building.
Miistakis Institute of the Rockies’ (MIR) board is dominated by U of C profs like Dr. Mike Quinn who co-chairs MIR and is their university liaison. Dr. Musiani sits on MIR’s board while teaching conservation biology and landscape ecology at the Environmental Design Faculty. Of the 15 students integrated into MIR, 13 are from Environmental Design. MIR is a key ENGO within Albertan environmentalism.
MIR has a staff of eight and draws annual revenues of about $700,000 from public and private sources and boasts partnerships with 76 organizations. Wilburforce Foundation is a reliable source of funds ($40,000 in 2008 and $25,000 in 2009) as is the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which bankrolls Crown Managers Partnership for which MIR functions as secretariat. (This Partnership unites 12 ENGOs fighting to conserve a 42,000 sq km chunk of western Alberta and Montana.) MIR is in the Canadian Biosphere Reserve Association and the North America Wetlands Management Program. In 2007 MIR reached out to movement allies concerned with land use policy. Consequently, a year later the following ENGOs agreed to collaborate with MIR regarding the province’s new Land Use Framework: Ecotrust Foundation, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Water Matters, Tides Canada, CPAWS, Defenders of Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Federation of Alberta Naturalists, Alberta Stewardship Network, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club Canada, and Environmental Law Centre. (102)
Enviro-academic activism is not confined to science departments. The Parkland Institute is a research network in U of A’s Arts Faculty. Their publications are uniformly environmentalist, anti-oilsands, and anti-neo-liberalism (code for anti-capitalism.) (103)
(As an askance example of enviro appropriation of academia: Peter Robinson is chairman and chancellor of British Columbia’s 2,000-student Royal Roads University. Robinson is also president of the David Suzuki Foundation.) (104)
- Bunner; Volume 10 p 88-9
- Ibid; Volume 10 p 142
- ualberta.ca (unless otherwise noted all facts about universities are from their websites)
- Edmonton Journal May 16, 2010
- Calgary Herald May 5, 2010; and Edmonton Journal May 5, 2010 and Edmonton Journal May 10, 2010
- Bunner; Volume 12 p 74
- davidsuzuki.org and royalroads.ca
William Walter Kay, Ecofascism.com