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UVa Center for International Studies Global Activities Grant Request Form

Please provide the following information when requesting funds from the CIS for global activities that are relevant to UVa's global mission:

1. Your name, title, department or unit, and contact information:

Vivian E. Thomson, Associate Professor, Dept. of Environmental Sciences,
Dept. of Politics, Director,
Environmental Thought and Practice BA Program (,
UVa Panama, Director Initiative (2007‐present,

2. The type of grant you are applying for:

Curriculum development

3. A detailed description of this project/activity including the purpose, participants, location, dates and other relevant information:

Bringing International Global Environmental Justice Experts Into the Classroom via Cisco Telepresence


In Spring 2013 I will teach two seminars, each with approximately 18 students. ETP/PLAP 4810, Class, Race, and the Environment, looks at class, race, and the environment in isolation and also as they intersect. ETP 4010, Environmental Decisions, the capstone seminar for the ETP major, considers the possible meanings of sustainable development in the US and elsewhere. ETP/PLAP 4810 has never had an international component. Both classes are interdisciplinary, incorporating reading material from politics, economics, environmental science, ethics, law, and history. ETP/PLAP 4810 typically draws students from Architecture as well as the College.

Environmental justice is a key issue in both classes. I would like to include for the first time international readings and guests in ETP/PLAP 4810. ETP 4010 has long had a strong international component and I have Skyped guests in from far away. But Skype has technical limits and reliability problems. I have never successfully Skyped a guest in by video, only through audio.

UVa has an exciting new virtual technology tool called "Cisco Telepresence," which is installed in two classrooms, one of which accommodates 18 people (the other room holds 5 people). This technology allows lecturers or guest class participants from thousands of miles away to have a virtual, real time presence in the classroom. Each participant in our classrooms has a microphone that allows her/him to ask questions of the guest.

Here's a short video showing Telepresence's launch at Duke University in 2010:

Telepresence has many advantages. Telepresence allows real time audio and video interaction between students and from guests thousands of miles away. Prominent guests are more likely to say "yes" to an invitation when they don't have to travel long distances. We almost eliminate the carbon footprint of their participation, since air travel involves high emissions of carbon dioxide. Telepresence reduces the
high absolute and transaction costs of having international visitors in UVa classrooms. When guests do not have Cisco Telepresence on their end, they can participate through Telepresence by downloading free software called "Jabber" onto their personal computers, or they can use conventional videoconferencing technology to link to our Telepresence technology.

With the funds from this grant, I would undertake the following activities in Spring 2013:

(a) Introduce new readings and subject areas into ETP/PLAP 4810 concerning the ways in which
environmental justice issues play out in other countries; and,

(b) Invite speakers from a different disciplines and countries to participate in ETP/PLAP 4810 and ETP
4010 through our Cisco Telepresence technology.

I plan to record these sessions so I can use them in future offerings of these classes. Readings introduced this year will stay in the curriculum, assuming that they work for the class. ETP 4010 is offered every year and ETP/PLAP 4810 is offered every other year.

Potential speakers and subjects:

Trash: Vik Muniz – Brazilian‐born artist and filmmaker of the award‐winning 2010 film Wasteland, which concerns trash pickers (cataderos) in Rio de Janeiro's largest (recently closed) landfill, Jardim Gramacho. I will show Wasteland in both classes, paving the way for Mr. Muniz's participation.

Climate change: Professor Nicholas Stern, IG Patel Professor Economics and Government, London School of Economics, Lord Stern of Brentford, Kent, former chief economist at the World Bank, lead author of the 700‐page Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, and author of The Global Deal: Climate Change and the Creation of a New Era of Progress and Prosperity. I will assign sections of The Global
Deal in both classes.

Tropical marine environments: Dr. Stanley Heckadon Moreno – anthropologist, author, and communications director, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama. Air pollution Dr. Oswaldo Lucon – Environmental official, São Paulo, Brazil, Adjunct faculty member, University of São Paulo, government environment official, CETESB (the state of Sao Paolo's counterpart to EPA). Dr. Lucon has written widely on environmental issues in Brazil.

4. A brief statement on how the project contributes to UVa Center for International Studies' mission,
and/or how it has the potential to deepen global learning:

"The mission of the Center for International Studies (CIS) is to advance global research at the University of Virginia with an emphasis on multidisciplinary and cross‐University efforts."

Both classes are already multidisciplinary in the material covered. ETP/PLAP is cross‐listed in two departments. The potential speakers represent several different disciplines across three different countries: visual arts, economics (London School of Economics), anthropology (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City), and public policy/natural sciences (University of Sao Paolo/state environmental regulatory agency, Brazil). The Panama Initiative is a well‐established, cross‐University effort, and the work of the Initiative dovetails with Dr. Heckadon's work in Panama.

5. An itemized overall budget and amount requested from CIS:


6. Sources of co-funding: