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Middlebury-Monterey Lecture Series welcomes Helen Young

7058147953_56c837a1d5_mMiddlebury biology professor Helen Young will give the first of two M-squared lectures this spring, on March 5 from 12-1:30 in MG 100.  Her topic is “Saving what we ‘value’: the limitations of ecosystem valuation.”

To increase public interest in biodiversity conservation in the late 1970s, “ecosystem services” provided a framework to assess the beneficial functions that ecosystems provide.  This “assessment” rapidly shifted to an economic valuation of ecosystem services to humankind, making these services into commodities with real cash value.  This talk will explore what we and the earth lose when only commodities in natural systems are valued – what biodiversity and evolutionary phenomena will be lost and the importance of these metrics to ecosystems.

Helen is a field biologist interested in plant reproductive biology, pollination biology, and the conservation of native bee pollinators.

Her studies of plant-pollinator interactions examine how floral traits affect pollinator behavior, which, in turn, influence plant reproductive success. In Vermont, she has worked extensively with jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and its pollinators. This system is also characterized by nectar-robbers (bees that remove nectar from flowers without pollinating them), which has led to her investigating the causes and consequences of robbing. In addition, she is examining the effect of habitat fragmentation on bumblebee pollinators in Addison County. In this project, she is examining what features of the landscape are associated with bumblebee abundance with an eye toward conservation of these landscape features to maintain healthy and diverse pollinator communities.

In addition to her lecture, Helen will also be attending classes, meeting with faculty and students… and visiting the garden!



Online learning at MIIS (?)

elearning_TreeOfKnowledgeOnline learning has been much discussed lately, from MOOC explosions and implosions, to questions of value and affordability. Middlebury has launched a working group to explore the roles online learning might play in the Middlebury of the future, from broadening access to our educational programs, to widening our network of connections and resources for learning, to sharing educational resources among Middlebury sites. Online learning is already happening in many corners of MIIS, so we have an important role to play in these discussions.
The Digital Learning Commons, in partnership with the Provost’s office, will host two brown bag lunches this spring, to hear from and share with two explorers of the online learning landscape:

Wednesday, March 6, 12:15 – 1:45pm
Holland Center
Brown-bag Lunch and Conversation with Jean du Preez, former MIIS faculty member now at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. Jean will share his experiences with developing educational opportunities online.


Thursday, April 4 12:30 – 1:30
DLC Design Space
Brown-bag Lunch and Conversation with John Elder, professor emeritus at Middlebury, who recently taught an online course on Robert Frost for Middlebury’s alumni College.

Bring your lunch, and your ideas, plans, dreams, fears and questions related to online learning.

(Dessert and drinks provided.)