Friday, December 2, 2011

NCSE conference in DC, Jan 17th to 22nd

Dear students:

With the generous support of the President’s and VPAA’s offices, Unity College is offering a conference field trip to Washington DC for up to six students in early January 2012, 17th to 22nd.

The purpose is to attend and participate in the National Council for Science and Environment’s 2012 conference “Energy and Security.”

Read on for application instructions. (Applications that do not conform to the instructions will not be considered.)

Why would you want to go to this conference? Well, because you’re a serious student of environmental issues and concerns. Read on:

The National Council for Science and Environment (motto: “Improving the scientific basis for environmental decision-making”) is a non-profit environmental organization representing scientists and students of the environment in Washington, DC. It advises the federal government and engages in lobbying and advocacy work for science solutions to environmental problems. Unity College is an affiliate organization, and we are regular participants in several NCSE activities, including programs in curriculum design for climate and sustainability, as well as a program of support for college leaders in climate and sustainability education (CEDD)

Every year there’s a national conference. NCSE conferences are very hands-on in the sense that students are participants, not mere audience members. At NCSE conferences you get to talk, present, make points, and influence the final proceedings, which are widely circulated (in full glossy format) to policy makers and scientists around the country. Past highlights have included a Unity College student asking a pointed question of former Science magazine editor Dr. Donald Kennedy, in full plenary session, at the microphone, with an packed auditorium of roughly 400 scientists and policy makers, a private, conference-room held discussion with the World Bank’s Environment staff in the World Bank building itself (one of DC’s modernist architectural wonders), a night out with dinner and conversation (partially) en le français de Belgique in a DC mansion on “Embassy Row” and so on, in addition to the routine (for NCSE) student participation in break-out and workshop sessions with everyone from congresswomen and men to senior federal agency managers. Unity students have met and shaken hands with environmental science greats such as E.O. Wilson, Herman Daly, Peter Raven, and so on.

An important tradition for this field trip is the final Museum Day, in which students get a full day in, as Forest Gump so memorably stated, “Our Nation’s Capitol,” with free time to explore museums and monuments and/or the National Zoo (which some feel is at its best in winter when tourists are absent). At least one fiendishly hot ethnic dinner is also on the cards, de rigueur, no pepper wimps allowed, a rite of passage.

Routinely this college provides one of the largest and most visible undergraduate student delegations. Student visibility like this, when combined with obvious high academic ability, improves the value of each and every Unity College degree by helping make our name as a college where finding smart solutions to difficult 21st century environmental problems is the curriculum.

Obviously, we’re looking for good intellectual ambassadors for the college.

Students will stay with the two conference faculty (Dr’s Ongley and Womersley) in the Capital Hill Presbyterian Church seminar center, which is youth-hostel style accommodation, men’s and women’s separate dorms and bathrooms, a sitting room, and a catering kitchen. We will partly self-cater, primarily breakfasts and some dinners. A sleeping bag is required, as is suitable clothing for a professional conference. You will also need, at minimum, a few tens of dollars of pocket money. The Presidents Office and the conference faculty will work to get you out of class for that period so you may freely attend. A required pre-trip meeting will be arranged if possible, before the end of this semester, to answer any further questions you may have.

There is a student fee of $50. All other expenses of several hundred dollars per student will be met by the college. We seek student volunteers to be “lent” to the conference to act as staff for short shifts, to help keep our expenses down.

The dates for the trip are as follows:

Tuesday January 17th Leave campus early (7am!), drive to DC, arriving late at night at the Capital Hill Presbyterian Church seminar center
Wednesday January 18th: Moderately slow start, recover, conference registration, attend opening keynote Session (by sustainable energy guru Amory Lovins)
Thursday, Friday, attend conference
Saturday: Museum Day
Sunday: Return to Unity College, arriving back late at night.

To apply, send a paragraph addressing the following prompt to and

  1. Go to the conference agenda page
  2. View the choices for Symposia “A” and “B” and the Thursday afternoon “Breakout Workshops”
  3. Choose which of the many Symposia A and B sessions and which Breakout Workshop Session you wish to attend (three choices total)
  4. Write a short application essay (one to three paragraphs) explaining why these choices are interesting to you. You may also include why any particular plenary sessions are interesting. (Hint: Be specific, or Lois and I may think you just want a field trip to DC, or are looking for a way to get out of class for a week.)
  5. Submit by email to and

If accepted, you will be required to pay the $50 conference deposit at the Business Office before that office closes on the last day of Fall Term (December 16th, 2011)


Dr. Michael W. “Mick” Womersley
Center for Global Change and Sustainability
Sustainable Energy Management Program
Unity College
90 Quaker Hill Road,
Unity, Maine 04988

207 948 3131 ext 259

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