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Tara Pisani Gareau To Be New Environmental Studies Program Associate Director

Juliet Schor

By Noah Snyder, Environmental Studies Program Director

It has been an exciting year for the Environmental Studies Program, highlighted by the Our Common Home conference on Laudato Si in late September. Our other big news is that the program was approved to search for and hire an associate director, which is a new position. In January, Tara Pisani Gareau accepted the position and will formally start this summer. Tara has been a temporary Visiting Assistant Professor with the program and the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department for the past three years. She is an agroecologist with a 2008 Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Prior to joining BC, she was a postdoctoral researcher in entomology at Penn State University.

The new position will involve taking a leadership role in all aspects of the program, from curriculum planning to student advising to organizing special events, as well as teaching courses in the program and Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. The new position is necessary because the program began offering an interdisciplinary major, in addition to the minor, in 2014.

This more permanent position will allow Tara to build on her many contributions to BC. In particular, she has been central in designing an innovative research project for the Environmental Studies senior seminar, in which student teams work with a campus or community mentor organization to address a specific sustainability challenge. Recent example projects include: Encouraging electric vehicle use in Newton, and Coffee energy audit: an analysis of coffee energy consumption and efficiency at Boston College.

Tara is also a key member of the Our Common Home working group. With her husband, Brian Gareau (an Associate Professor in Sociology at BC) and several undergraduate student assistants, she is currently conducting research on the impact of climate change on cranberry growers in eastern Massachusetts. This fall, she and Brian co-taught a new course called Global Implications of Climate Change, which was among the first offerings in BC’s new interdisciplinary core curriculum. Bringing Tara into a permanent position greatly strengthens the program and Earth and Environmental Studies Department, and offers wonderful opportunities for students, faculty colleagues, and the BC community to continue to work with her.

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