Hope and Renewal in the age of the Apocalypse

Conference Program

Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center


7:30 AM

Check-In Opens

The check-in/registration counter will remain open throughout the day.

Exhibit Area Opens

Continental breakfast will be available in exhibit area from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m.

9:00 AM


Lynn Broaddus, President, Broadview Collaborative; Chair, Nelson Institute Board of Visitors

9:05 AM

Everyone's Earth: Sharing Experiences on a Restless Planet

Everyone owns a stake in the future of our rapidly changing planet, yet each of us sees and interacts with the world in different ways. This session will explore different cultural and historical perspectives on our relationships with nature.

Kimberly Blaeser, Wisconsin Poet Laureate; Photographer; and Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Carolyn Finney, Author of Black Faces, White Spaces; Assistant Professor of Geography, University of Kentucky

10:30 AM

Refreshment Break and Exhibits

11:00 AM


In December, 196 nations agreed on a global climate accord that has been called "historic, durable and ambitious." It requires both the developed and developing countries to limit carbon emissions in order to keep global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F). Four experts will explore what must happen for the world to meet this goal, and what it will mean for energy policy and development, economics, human rights and other critical factors. Watch the video of this session.

MODERATOR: Tia Nelson, Managing Director for Climate, Outrider Foundation

Andrew Revkin, environmental journalist and author; writer of The New York Times "Dot Earth" blog

Michael Shellenberger, coauthor of An Ecomodernist Manifesto; co-founder of and senior fellow, the Breakthrough Institute (View presentation)

Sumudu Atapattu, Director of Research Centers and senior lecturer, University of Wisconsin Law School

Jonathan Patz, Director of the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison; lead author, U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (View presentation)

12:30 PM


1:30 PM

Concurrent Sessions


    Earth has entered a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene, the Age of Humans. In "An Ecomodernist Manifesto," Michael Shellenberger and co-authors argue that we can use our growing social, economic, and technological powers to make life better for people, stabilize the climate, and protect the natural world. They say we need to intensify farming, energy extraction, forestry and settlement and essentially decouple them from the natural world. This session will explore this provocative concept and include perspectives from experts on climate change, ecosystems, development and business. Watch a video of this session.

    MODERATOR: Paul Robbins, Director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

    Michael Shellenberger, Co-author of An Ecomodernist Manifesto; Co-founder, The Breakthrough Institute (View presentation)

    John Nelson, Chief Technical Officer, Global Infrastructure Asset Management, LLC (View presentation)

    Elizabeth Hennessy, Assistant Professor, History, UW-Madison (View presentation)

    Jack Williams, Director, Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research; Professor, Geography, UW-Madison

  2. New Generation: The Changing Energy Landscape

    The rapid growth of solar energy, battery technology and other non-carbon sources of electricity generation and storage is good news in the effort to limit climate change and promote self-sufficiency and resilience. But the expansion of fossil-fuel alternatives raises a number of issues, including the design and maintenance of the electric grid, successful utility business models and the role of nuclear energy in a de-carbonizing economy. This session will explore these opportunities and challenges.

    MODERATOR Sonnet Edmonds, Attorney, Southern Power Company, Atlanta

    Ruchi Gakhar, Research Associate, College of Engineering, UW-Madison (View presentation)

    Tyler Huebner, Executive Director, RENEW Wisconsin (View presentation)

    Gary Radloff, Director, Midwest Energy Policy Analysis, Wisconsin Energy Institute (View presentation)

    Bob Gough, Secretary, Intertribal Council on Utility Policy

  3. Wisconsin Ideas: A Creative Look at Graduate Research in the Nelson Institute

    Nelson Institute graduate students conduct research on a wide range of topics: future energy resources, health, wildlife habitat, food systems, toxicology, environmental history and much more. A select group of students working on masters and doctoral degrees will provide quick overviews of their work.

    MODERATORS: Anne Pearce M.S. Candidate, Water Resources Management; and Tim Allen, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison

    Aimee Crittendon, Alix Jacobson, Anne Pearce, M.S. Candidates, Water Resources Management, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Habitat Improvement in Agricultural Drainage Ditches in Central Sands, WI

    Vaishnavi Tripuraneni, Ph.D. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Crop choices under conditions of water scarcity and indebtedness, in semi-arid rainfed smallholder agriculture in India (View presentation)

    Vera Pfeiffer, Ph.D. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Bumble bee research in Wisconsin cranberry production landscapes

    David Abel, Joint M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources and Mechanical Engineering, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Emissions and Air Quality Co-Benefits of High Penetration Solar Energy Generation (View presentation)

    Mike Braus, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Algae, microbes, how microbes influence climate change, and public opinion of nuisance algae in freshwaters (View presentation)

    Katie Laushman, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Vegetation and earthworm community changes in hardwood forests of the UW Arboretum with the invasive Amynthas earthworm

    Elisabeth Schlaudt, Joint M.S. Candidate, Water Resources Management and Geoscience, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Identification of groundwater flowpaths and recharge zones to sloughs of Sauk Co., WI

    Alysa Hinde, Ph.D. Candidate, Biological Systems Engineering, Certificate in Energy Analysis and Policy, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Biogas cleanup from anaerobic digesters

    Regan Dohm, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Will the raptors return? Displacement of raptors from a wind farm (View presentation)

    Olivia Sanderfoot, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison, How birds are impacted by air quality

    Riley Balikian, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Agua(cate): Agriculture, Water, and Policy in San Diego County, California

    Ryan Thompson, M.S. Candidate, Environmental Conservation, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison; Conserving the Corridor: Stories and Impacts of Sustainable Livelihoods Initiatives in the Amazon (View presentation)

  4. New Pathways to Clean Air and Water

    In efforts to achieve and maintain air and water quality, a variety of strategies and partnerships are evolving among public and private entities. This session will explore several approaches and examples, drawing from the Yahara Lakes and Green Lake, the Native Nations of Wisconsin, and the Great Lakes region. Watch a video of this session (See part 2).

    MODERATOR: Carol Barford, Director, Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, UW-Madison

    Stephanie Prellwitz, Executive Director, Green Lake Association (View presentation)

    Amy Callis, County Conservationist, Dane County Land & Water Resources Department (View presentation)

    Tracey Holloway, Professor, Environmental Studies and Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, UW-Madison (View presentation)

    Sara Drescher, Attorney, Forest County Potawatomi Community

  5. Climate Change, El Niño and Infectious Disease

    The recent explosion of Zika virus in the Americas has raised concerns about the possible role of climate change in the spread of this and other infectious diseases. In this session, experts on climate, public health and veterinary medicine will explore connections between environmental change and Zika, ebola and other pathogens.

    MODERATOR: Jason Vargo, Assistant Scientist, Nelson Institute and Global Health Institute, UW-Madison

    Daniel Vimont, Assistant Professor, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, UW-Madison

    Jonathan Patz, Director, Global Health Institute; Professor, Environmental Studies, UW-Madison

    David Quammen, Author, Ebola, Spillover, and The Chimp and the River

  6. The Nature of Business: Innovative Approaches to Sustainability

    A growing number of businesses are using cutting-edge environmental science to help guide their decision-making. This session will explore examples from companies that employ this knowledge to become more resilient, environmentally friendly and profitable.

    MODERATOR: Tom Eggert, Senior Lecturer, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison

    Joseph Gates, Enterprise Catastrophe Management Director, American Family Insurance

    Jeff Crawford, Attorney General, Forest County Potawatomi Community

    Clay Nesler, Vice President for Global Energy and Sustainability, Johnson Controls

    Raj Shukla, Director of Programs, Cool Choices

    Additional speakers to be announced.

  7. Close to Home: Building Food Security and Sovereignty

    From inner cities to small towns to tribal communities, people around Wisconsin are gaining more control over what they eat and how and where it's grown -- through local farmers' markets, school and community gardens, and other projects that increase food security and sovereignty. This session will explore several examples of community efforts to grow healthy foods close to home.

    MODERATOR: Dadit Hidayat, Ph.D. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison

    Lydia Zepeda, Professor, Consumer Science, UW-Madison (View presentation)

    Joanie Buckley, Division Director, Internal Support Services, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin (View presentation)

    Chris Brockel, Executive Director, Healthy Food for All (View presentation)

    Robert Pierce, Manager, South Madison Farmers Market

  8. Wildlife Conservation: Stories from the Field

    This session will explore wildlife research and conservation projects ranging from tigers in Laos' forests to primates in the coastal regions of Brazil, and from elk reintroduction efforts in Wisconsin's north woods to research on coyotes and foxes in and around Madison.

    MODERATOR: Nathan Schulfer, Assistant Director for International & Professional Programs, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison

    Karen Sexton, Wildlife Biologist, Ho-Chunk Nation Department of Natural Resources

    David Drake, Professor, Forest & Wildlife Ecology, UW-Madison

    Karen Strier, Professor, Anthropology, UW-Madison

    Arlyne Johnson, Senior Conservationist, Wildlife Conservation Society

  9. Everyone's Outdoors: Broadening the Environmental Experience

    This session will explore several programs working to ensure that people from all communities -- especially kids -- have opportunities to experience nature and the outdoors.

    MODERATOR: Dantrell Cotton, M.S. Candidate, Environment & Resources, Nelson Institute, UW-Madison

    Maria Moreno, Multicultural Outreach Specialist, Earth Partnership, UW Arboretum (View presentation)

    John Francis, Author of Planetwalker and The Ragged Edge of Silence

    Diane Schwartz, Founder of Outdoors 123 (formerly Get Kids Outside) (View presentation)

    Amy Kesling, Program Director, Step Up: Equity Matters, Sustain Dane (View presentation)

    James Mills, Author, The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors

3:00 PM

Refreshment Break and Exhibits

3:30 PM

Alumni Awards

3:40 PM

Yellowstone and Beyond: The Paradox of the Cultivated Wild

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, totaling more than 18 million acres, represents the wild heart of America. Over the past 144 years, Yellowstone has suffered major disturbances and remarkable rebounds. Throughout, its value to America and the world has been complicated by "the paradox of the cultivated wild" -- that is, how is it possible to manage a great ecosystem so that, to the four million annual visitors and the people who view it from afar, it seems wild and … unmanaged? This lecture will explore this paradox, which applies not only to Yellowstone, but to the difficulties of managing protected areas all over the world.

David Quammen, Author of Chimp and the River, Monster of God, Spillover and other books