TELI-G 2015

TELI-G is the Tufts Environmental Literacy Institute for Graduate Students! This January TIE will be hosting the 2nd annual weekend-long workshop aimed at enhancing Tufts graduate students’ environmental literacy.

TELI-G 2015

Systems Thinking in Sustainable Development and Environmental Justice

Incorporating environmental economics, social justice, and sustainability to help graduate students apply systematic thinking into their own field and professional interests.

Tufts graduate students will participate in a simulation exercise, interact with peers, and acquire tools to interpret environmental issues through an interdisciplinary lens.  After participating in the TELI-G conference, students will be better equipped to integrate environmental topics into their teaching and to produce a cutting-edge thesis. Hosted by the Tufts Institute of the Environment (TIE) in the Chase Center, participants will define environmental literacy from an interdisciplinary lens.

This past December, 27 graduate students applied to participate in TELI-G. We have accepted 15 students from a variety of fields (English, Economics, Engineering, Public Health, Agriculture, and more) to participate in this extremely interdisciplinary workshop.

Workshop dates:
January 16 (1:30-7:30pm)
January 17 (8am-4pm)
January 18 (9am-2pm)

For more information on Logistics, Speaker Bio’s, Participant Bio’s, and Resources please navigate through the tabs above or links here.

15 Responses to TELI-G 2015

  1. The economics lectures on Friday were so informative and interesting, they really exceeded my expectations. I feel like after listening to Silvan’s lecture I would feel much more prepared to begin and engage with others in a dialogue about the economics of climate burden sharing, a fascinating topic. And Brian’s lecture changed my perspective on the issue by demonstrating that the climate problem is clearly a problem of marketing and politics rather than a lack of technology. One thing that has stuck with me over the past few days is the importance of international collaboration on controlling the global climate, particularly the idea that we should make an effort to reduce our own emissions not just to mitigate the effects of our emissions on the climate, but to encourage other countries to do the same. This principle is applicable across so many disciplines, but I had never really thought about it in such simple terms.

    I loved the systems approach to looking at issues; thus far in my program I am mostly exposed to more linear logic model-type approaches, but I think that the systems analysis is much more effective in capturing the critical overlap between environmental and human health. Thank you to everyone at TIE for a great two days and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s systems models tomorrow!

  2. While Sivan Kartha’s talk “Equity and International Climate Regime” was replete with fascinating numbers, I have repeatedly revisited and spoken to non TELI-G friends about a specific idea from his talk: differentiated responsibility for carbon emissions mitigation. The calculations of wealth that Sivan and his colleagues computed to determine a nation’s “responsibility” for carbon emissions mitigation were detailed and complex, but also intuitive in a way. I look forward to having access to his slides to study these calculations and their outputs further.

    Another concept that has interested me is that of scale. As I mentioned, I am interested in scales of inequalities, such as between nations vs. between individuals within a nation. I am also interested in scale in the sense of scaling up – how do you scale up more sustainable behaviors on an individual level to a community level to a national level? This is a half-hatched idea, but I believe that one mechanism for this scaling up is policy. I was intrigued by the information in Brian Roach’s talk “Rationality and Objectivity in Science and Policy” about behavioral economics in relation to climate change. His talk has given me new ways to think about approaching (and marketing) policy for more effective changes in behavior.

  3. Talks about climate change and capacities and responsibilities to reverse the way, objectivity and simplicity in the communication process, construction of economic democracy and systems thinking and model development can be really mind-blowing. Along the TELI-G I went through different moods while exercising the precious learning process. My takeaways come to be that, accepting the fact of climate change as it is, there are simple methods to determine how to allocate efforts in a fair way to fight back its impact. These methods can be tremendously complicated, but also so simple and logic. The key turns to be how to present the scientific findings to the people who are to taking the lead in the climate change fight, thus, the entire world population. Different countries, different cultures and values, different capabilities in the broad sense of the word. Robust communication skills are to be developed in present and next generation of professionals, introducing concepts of marketing. You can’t demand your neighbor to collaborate with you if your are not collaborating at the same time. It is time to begin seriously and it seems the best approach is the bottom-up one, where people with same interests and constraints aggregate at relative small scale and start acting, producing change and spreading the word. The system-thinking is not only necessary, but the only working one by now. Such a complex study object as the Earth and all in it requires to come to a conceptual model as simple and as soon as possible to kick off with the global efforts in this long coming task.
    I believe the TELI-G environment is the perfect arena to reach the multidisciplinary arena needed to learn and discuss about complex problems. Thanks for the opportunity to all the team!

  4. One of the best things about being part of TELI-G was to have the opportunity to interact with people with similar interests but from different backgrounds and fields with whom I might not have come across otherwise. It was also a very auspicious environment to plant new questions in my mind that I can easily see myself going into in depth in the future. Lastly the organization and the speakers were very interesting and led to participation from everyone. The time really flew in this exciting experience and we could not get enough of it (to the point that at lunch time, people were NOT flying to the food but rather carried on with their discussions).

  5. As I missed the lectures on Friday (which according to the comments above were riveting!), I can only comment on the later parts of the conference. However, I found that material covered was really helpful – just meeting people from other parts of Tufts, and learning about what their projects and ideas alone. It’s so rare to be able to step out of our small research groups and work with people from far-flung fields. It provided a chance for me to revisit the assumptions that were inherent in both my papers & experiments, and refine my project’s goals. Taken with the systems mapping exercise, the TELI-G conference was a great experience!

    For those who are interested in the glyphosate papers, here are a few:
    +The original MIT paper by Samsel & Seneff:

    +The true effects of glyphosate on chicken intestinal bacteria (increased susceptibility to pathogens):

    +Some human cell line apoptosis and p450 activation was found at 5 – 10ppm, directly applied:

    +A new case study on human ingestion of 20mL glyphosate (unknown concentration):

    There are currently no studies linking low concentration glyphosate exposure to gut bacteria community shifts in humans in situ – no matter what all the eco-news websites say, haha! It will be interesting to see when more studies come out, though.

    Also some good mind-mapping programs (STELLA without the math) are X-Mind and Coggle, both free:

    It was great to meet all of you & thanks to everyone!

  6. A message to all graduate students reading this: If you have the opportunity to participate in a TELI-G, do it. You will learn about important environmental issues in the traditional sense, which is perhaps reason enough, but you and an interdisciplinary group of peers and researchers will also enter into an insightful and meaningful three-day dialogue characterized by passion, motivation, and the spirit of collaboration. Although the 2015 TELI-G was largely focused on climate change, our discussions were more broadly applicable. Most of the urgent problems confronting our world today are so complex (or we would have already solved them, right?) that an approach comprised of interdisciplinary methods and holistic thinking is the only way forward. Much of our discussion revolved around topics like human behavior, the political system, the ideological landscape of America and the world, power structures, alternative economic models, and innumerable other themes fundamentally tied to “How do you change ____?” questions. Thank you to the wonderful speakers, coordinators, and fellow students. I cannot remember a more fulfilling experience.

  7. This entire weekend was incredibly eye opening for me. Friday night’s lectures on economics of dealing with climate change really opened my eyes to how technologically and financially feasible making changes really is. Saturday’s simulation of capitalism vs. economic democracy was equally eye opening. Although it was admittedly simplified, the basic concepts were ones that I didn’t fully realize impacted my purchasing decisions every day, and made me more aware that I don’t fully analyze the impact of decisions.

    Sunday’s exercise in systems thinking and creating a mental model for an idea was really interesting. Though we all realized throughout the weekend that our different backgrounds brought something special to the workshop, it was highlighted in the incredible variety and depth of topics that we all chose to make our models. Where climate change and making the changes to combat it may be something we all feel strongly about, our passions really came out in the modeling exercise.

    To any graduate student thinking of applying and participating, I would strongly recommend it. It was a really enlightening experience, and every discipline can contribute to the environment.

  8. The 2015 TELI-G program was a valuable opportunity to interact with graduate students from a variety of programs as well as professors and experts from around the Tufts community. I enjoyed the workshop’s combination of insightful lectures, a fascinating case study and a focus on the importance of environmental challenges for diverse research topics.

    Additionally, the TELI-G program brought together students and professors who probably would not cross paths otherwise and allowed for fascinating conversations about the roles of multiple academic disciplines in combating environmental problems. I highly recommend that graduate students from many areas of Tufts apply to participate in next year’s version of this unique program!

  9. Profile photo of scarls01 scarls01 says:

    The greatest aspect of this weekend’s event was the chance for inter-disciplinary dialogue. I think what I came away with was the sense that to truly understand and address issues as complex and daunting as climate change, we all need to examine these challenges from our respective disciplines and then share with each other. And that is just the first step – not only do we need to learn to talk to each other, but we need to learn to talk to those outside the academic world. We need to translate what we are learning into actionable information for politicians and CEOs, for community leaders and farmers. And we need to learn how to listen better as well, because not everything fits neatly into our favorite narratives.
    I am hopeful that after this workshop, we can continue, deepen, and broaden this conversation. I hope that we get the chance to bring in even more voices from the Tufts community and beyond. And I hope that we are able to take these conversations and translate them into action, or at least the seeds of future change.

  10. Profile photo of Yuchen  Huang Yuchen Huang says:

    I was surprised by the ideas and lectures in TELI-G. I just realized that so many people were interested in environmental issues and how our behavior could effect the whole world. Sivan’s amazing graphs, Brian’s lecture of predictable irrationals, Penn’s simulation game, Antje’s system thinking, Regina’s research method and Kyle’s STELLA were very helpful to us. They provided us an opportunity to learn different perspectives.

    I recommend any graduate to attend TELI-G regardless of your background and thank you for all the people to make this happen.

  11. I went into the conference knowing that TELIG would take and interdisciplinary approach to analyzing climate change and environmental/social justice. However, the group of students and speakers that was culled from various Tufts departments provided a far more integrative environment than I expected, and we were able to assess climate change through economic, engineering, policy and framing lenses. It was really amazing to see how many different seemingly unrelated backgrounds can come together to help solve global problems.

    Saturday and Sunday’s events provided a chance to delve into systems thinking and modeling through economic simulations, a workshop on available tools for modeling, and creating a map of our own research interests. The information I gained from TELIG will be an asset in my future endeavors, whether it be for a class, a job or for research purposes.

    If you have the chance, I strongly encourage you to partake in this amazing workshop!

  12. “TELI-G was a great experience! More than anything, I loved the variety of questions I heard over the course of the weekend. I so much appreciated being in a room full of people approaching the same issues from many angles. We began to see or were reminded of how these massive issues are surrounded by ideas. Many of the questions felt as if they could have been my own, but many more were ones that would never have occurred to me. On a related note, I was intrigued by our very different systems maps. Both in these projects and during the presentations, I was struck by what a difference visuals can make to our understanding, especially when they are accompanied by a compelling, caring storyteller. ”

    A comment from Emma Schneider

  13. The TELI-G 2015 afforded me the opportunity to broaden my outlook on climate change. Brian Roach was inspirational because the presentation not only promoted U.S. initiative but developing nations as well and I agree that we need collective adoption of economic policies and programs that reduce negative effects on the environment and poor people. Maybe environmental protection taxes? A duty tax for imports that may require collection of those funds and redistribute them to aid pollution control. This global challenge needs thinkers like my fellow workshop participants!

    In addition, The Building Economic Democracy, by Penn Loh and his assistant Rebecca Tumposky really painted a genuine simulation and the activity provided a “hands-on” impact about neighborhood food economics. I left the weekend workshop with what “can I do” attitude considering carbon emissions.
    Please continue this multi-disciplinary approach and I would recommend this to all the graduates in all the disciplines. Thank you all and I hope we continue to have formal and informal dialogues in the future about environmental sustainability and our work globally!

  14. Profile photo of Xiaojun You Xiaojun You says:

    The 3-day TELI-G workshop is quite an experience of lifetime. By saying this, I mean the integrated, systematic way of thinking as well as groups of smart people I knew from it. Interdisciplinary discussion is really thought-provoking, from which I got a chance to examine the old topic (like climate change, capitalism vs. economic democracy , customer behavior, etc.) with brand new perspectives and it always leads to some creative outcomes. As a student from Geographic background, I tried to contribute more opinions using geographic thinking during the heated discussion. Hopefully someone would benefit from that because I think sometimes interpreting issues in a spatial way and paying attention to factors embedded in the localities will enable researchers to comprehend issues comprehensively instead of isolatedly. And let myself standing in other people’s shoes is of great help when I conduct research.
    Also, I’ll forever appreciate the potential collaboration opportunities I earned after this workshop. It offered me a chance to meet people with same interest and promoted future collaboration in research, which is more beneficial and valuable. Participants, speakers as well as organizers in TELI-G workshop are indeed intelligent and awesome. As a new visiting PhD student from China, it benefits me not only academically but also socially. It’s the best thing I had in the beginning of 2015 and I firmly believe it’s the terrific event you shall never miss. Thank you, TELI-G 2015!

  15. I really enjoyed the TELI-G workshop. It is so inspiring to speak with people who are not necessarily scientists or engineers, but are genuinely interested in the environment and in climate change. It was very motivating to discuss such complex topics with so many different people from different backgrounds and explore solutions in ways I had not thought of before.

    A big topic of discussion I had previously been contemplating myself, and was really brought to the surface during the workshop was the need to better communicate scientific ideas to people who are not scientists. Or to “market” or “sell” scientific ideas depending on the audience you are trying to reach. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember not everyone has the scientific or engineering background that I do, just as I do not have much knowledge of economics or policy. That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that they are not interested in learning. This workshop helped to see the importance of bridging these gaps with a common language, even by drawing models, to help people in different areas of expertise understand each others’ ideas.

    Even within one university it was interesting to hear how people in different programs had similar work and could easily collaborate and share ideas, but their departments never had before. In a place like academia where it seems like it should be so easy for different disciplines to work together, it is still much easier said than done. I think TELI-G does a good job of exposing students to this concept so that we can work on getting others in the university to collaborate and work together. Maybe even someday we can get the rest of the world on board, too!

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