Heal the World
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impression is that Southern California is moving strongly that way.
In a sense, the public has always been out in front of the decision-makers.
And it's the public's priorities that ultimately determine whether
the political will exists to carry out these programs."
current study, funded by the U.S. EPA and headed by IoE founding
director Richard P. Turco, provides what may be the best illustration
of the IoE's raison d'etre. The Los Angeles Basin Watershed Project
is an effort to understand, in a more comprehensive way, the processes
that control water availability in a major urban setting. Turco,
an atmospheric chemist, is joined by eight IoE colleagues in an
ambitious effort to synthesize data and create a predictive model
that encompasses all aspects of water quality, availability and
management; regional meteorology and climatology; basin hydrology,
vegetation and land use; human water consumption and disposition;
runoff sources of sediments, toxins and nutrients; air pollutant
transport, transformation and surface deposition; downstream wetlands
ecology and impacts; and coastal water circulation, biogeochemistry
is one of the best integrated projects I've seen," says Brian
Sidlauskas, an environmental-protection specialist in the EPA's
Office of Research and Development, who assists the project director
in administering the grant. "In the past, a lot of these studies
have been very disciplinary. By working together in a more integrated
professors can examine what's happening in the watershed around
Los Angeles as a whole."
SCAQMD's Wallerstein notes that environmental pollutants tend not
to respect the boundaries of land, water and air that traditional
higher education has drawn. "Putting together multidisciplinary
teams is critical to ensure that our solutions don't simply transfer
the pollution from land to air or water, or vice versa," he
along with one of his key deputies and several staffers, is a product
of UCLA's 25-year-old Environmental Science and Engineering program,
an interdepartmental doctoral-degree program -- among only a handful
of programs of its kind in the nation -- whose mission is to prepare
professionals for environmental leadership positions by giving them
the well-rounded training that is increasingly required. That educational
philosophy has more recently been extended at the undergraduate
level, where the IoE began team-teaching a yearlong freshman course,
"The Global Environment: A Multidisciplinary Perspective,"
in Fall Quarter 1997.
IoE faculty hope the Report Card and the visibility afforded
by the SEJ conference and other high-profile events will help bring
the institute to the attention of those in government, industry
and the general public who have an interest in environmental issues.
"I'm very interested in letting people know that UCLA has knowledgeable
faculty covering all facets of the environment," says Berk,
"and that, through the IoE, we are anxious to work with these
leaders so that everyone can benefit."
Gordon is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.