College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

News & Events

May 26, 2010

John Casazza Returns from a Volunteer Assignment in the Republic of Georgia


John Casazza, an agribusiness management consultant from San Francisco, CA as well as the Alumni Association Board President at the College of Natural Resources, recently returned from a volunteer assignment in the Republic of Georgia where he advised a farm on how to improve their asparagus growing techniques. Casazza’s trip was part of a project with CNFA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering people and enterprises in the developing world. Casazza, who owns and manages his own agribusiness consulting company, contributed his expertise in agribusiness management and sustainable agriculture to his host’s farm in the Village of Koda. His host, the owner of the large, multi-crop farm, was eager to begin growing asparagus to increase his profits. Even though Casazza found that the soil and climactic conditions in Georgia make it difficult to grow asparagus, he discovered that the native wild varieties that his host was using were adapted to these conditions.

Upon arriving at the farm, Casazza was surprised to find that the available equipment was of a lower standard than he had expected. However, both volunteer and host were eager to achieve their objectives. In fact, the host had even done his own research and proposed a few ideas that he needed Casazza’s help to realize. Casazza recalls that throughout his former experiences in developing countries, he has found himself in similar situations where resources are scarce or unavailable; he proposes that “you just have to be creative, fortunately my host in Georgia was like that too.” Casazza made suggestions that would not require sophisticated equipment and his host eagerly adapted his techniques, a sign of a “good farmer” according to the volunteer. Casazza describes himself as “adaptable to local cultures”, as a result of having lived and worked with farming communities in many different countries. He finds that he can “relate to rural farm life and how it works, especially how rural farmers think.” For instance, a former assignment in Tanzania where farmers are mostly engaged in low-level subsistence agriculture opened Casazza’s eyes to the situation of agriculture in developing countries. He realized that where people lack resources, “they become very resourceful and bank on the experiences and teachings
of past generations.”

In Georgia, Casazza stayed in the capital, Tiblisi, which he describes as a “picturesque” city. Hewas received warmly by his hosts who took great care to introduce him to Georgia’s delicacies and to show him some of its historic sites. He noticed that the Georgian people are “very proud” of their country and its rich culture.

Casazza chooses to travel on volunteer consultancy assignments because he derives satisfaction from the reception he receives from farmers in developing countries, “I like to go to new places in the world and meet farmers because they are always very respective and helpful.” Additionally, he finds that he oftentimes learns from his assignments too through sharing ideas with his hosts, because “the way we have learned to do things in the US is not necessarily the right way; it has to be tested in different circumstances.”

John Casazza travelled to Georgia under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Farmer-to-Farmer Program, which provides voluntary technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, and agribusinesses in developing and transitional countries to promote sustainable improvements in food processing, production, and marketing.

Founded in 1985, CNFA is dedicated to strengthening agricultural markets and empowering entrepreneurs in the developing world. CNFA is now recruiting for many similar volunteer assignments. Please visit for a list of available opportunities and to find out how you can become a Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer.

May 24, 2010

Agriculture Briefs: Presentation on pollinators


Three UC specialists will speak June 5 on the status of Sonoma County's bees and other pollinators.

The panelists will speak at 2:30 p.m. at the Bouverie Preserve near Glen Ellen. A cocktail reception with the experts will follow from 4 to 6 p.m.

Scientists have been studying causes for the decline in bee populations in the U.S., as well as the impact that the loss of bees could have on native ecosystems and food supplies around the world.

The three scientists are: Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley professor and research entomologist; Robbin Thorp, professor emeritus in entomology from UC Davis; and Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture at the UC Davis Arboretum.

Tickets are $45. Guests are asked to make reservations by May 28 by contacting (415) 868-9244 or More information is available online at

'Discounting' the future cost of climate change

By Julie Rehmeyer

To figure out how much we should spend fighting climate change, economists have some questions for you: How much would you be willing to spend now to make your child $100 richer in the future? What about your grandchild in the farther future, or your great-great-great-great-great-grandchild in the very distant future?

The health of the planet may hinge on the answers. Most economic analyses of climate change have concluded that we should be spending only small amounts to combat climate change now, ramping up slowly over time. This conclusion mystifies most climate scientists, who argue that immediate action is the only way to forestall dreadful consequences. And at the heart of the disagreement are these very questions, about the value of future generations’ welfare in monetary terms.

The worst consequences of climate change are likely to unfold only over decades or centuries — in other words, in our children’s or grandchildren’s or great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren’s lifetimes, not ours. The decision of how much to spend now to avert climate changes hinges on assessing how much it is worth to us now to prevent that future damage. Since most of us would prefer money now over money later, economists typically figure that we’re willing to spend only less than a dollar now to prevent a dollar’s worth of damage in a year, or in a decade. The percentage less is called the “social discount rate.”

The key is figuring out what this percentage should be. In the short term, there’s a straightforward way to do it: use the market rate on loans. After all, if you can get a bank loan at 5 percent, then getting a dollar in a year is essentially equivalent to getting a tad over 95 cents now. That means that, economically, it would make sense to spend 95 cents today if doing so would save you from a problem that would cost you at least a dollar a year from now. In other words, a dollar of future impacts has gotten discounted to 95 cents today.

Play this out over many years, though, and the consequences are peculiar. For example, at a 5 percent annual interest rate, a penny that belonged to Julius Caesar would have expanded to the bogglingly huge sum of 3 × 1041 dollars today — more than the entire world economic output over the last 2,000 years multiplied by the number of stars in the sky. So the brutal arithmetic of discounting (at a 5 percent social discount rate) would shrink any imaginable catastrophe today to far less than a penny in Caesar’s time, and an economist would have therefore recommended that Caesar not spend even so tiny an amount to avoid it.

Besides being absurd, this little calculation is a mute in the trumpet of economists alarmed about climate change. Any constant social discount rate (like the 5 percent rate used above) leads to exponential growth, which is explosive over the long term. So even at moderate social discount rates — for example, 2 to 3 percent — economists have a very difficult time justifying significant spending in the present to fight climate change. Invest the money instead, economists would advise, and our descendants will be rich enough to live well despite the damage from climate change.

One of the few exceptions is Nicholas Stern, now at the London School of Economics. In 2006, he wrote the The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review and concluded that we should immediately invest 1 percent of world GDP to combat climate change. Otherwise, he said, the resulting climate chaos could cost 20 percent of world GDP per year. In order to reach this conclusion, though, Stern had to set the social discount rate at near zero.

Many economists, even those sympathetic with the report’s conclusions, howled at this assumption. After all, people do much prefer a dollar today to a dollar next year or a dollar a hundred years from now.

So economists seemed to be on the horns of a dilemma: Either accept an assumption that many argue is economically unjustified (a near-zero social discount rate), or conclude that we should just accept climate change without much of a fight. (A third alternative is perhaps even less appealing to economists: accepting that their calculations simply can’t illuminate the question.)

Continue reading "'Discounting' the future cost of climate change " »

May 20, 2010

CNR Awards

In early May the College of Natural Resources held its annual Awards Ceremony and presented the CNR Citation, the CNR Staff Award, the Career Achievement Award and finally the CNR Young Faculty/CE Specialist Award to four outstanding individuals who have all had a meaningful impact on various aspects of the College community.

The CNR Citation recognizes those who have made a significant impact and have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to CNR and its mission.

This year it was presented to Dr. Roderic B. Park. A long-time UC Berkeley professor and administrator, Dr. Park started his career as an associate professor of botany at UC Berkeley, and worked on the reorganization of biology, combining areas of research interest on campus, in a move that greatly enhanced Berkeley’s strength in the biological sciences and has led to the outstanding scientific reputation of the College’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. Dr. Park has held numerous Academic Senate and administrative posts, most recently being coaxed out of retirement and named Senior Associate for Academic Development at UC Merced. He recently published a memoir of his years as an administrator, primarily at Berkeley, titled “It’s Only the Janitor; A Handbook for New Academic Administrators.”


Pictured: Professor Emeritus Russell Jones, lead nominator, CNR Citation Recipient, Professor Emeritus Roderic Park and Dean J. Keith Gilless

Susan Kishi was selected for this year’s CNR Staff Recognition Award, which honors the outstanding and noteworthy service of members of the College of Natural Resources staff. Kishi is well known throughout the college, as a very effective environmental Sciences Undergraduate Advisor and SPUR Program Coordinator.


Pictured: Associate Dean Stephen Welter, Staff Award Recipient, Susan Kishi and, lead nominator, Assistant Dean Kimberly Johnson.

Professor Gordon Rausser received The College of Natural Resources’ Career Achievement Award, which honors a tenured faculty member who has provided distinguished service as an educator and scholar over the course of his career. In addition to extraordinary scholarly achievement within his field and a distinguished teaching record at CNR, Gordon Rausser has served as Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Dean of the College. He continues to work with the CNR Advisory Board as a member of the Campaign Steering Committee.


Pictured: Professor Peter Berck, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Lead Nominator, Professor Gordon Rausser also in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Career Achievement Recipient, and Dean J. Keith Gilless

David Winickoff was honored with the CNR Young Faculty/CE Specialist Award which encourages and recognizes excellence in two of three areas: research and either teaching or service/outreach. Combining Science and Technology Studies and law to analyze complex problems in bioethics and society, especially as they pertain to issues of environment and human health, Dr. Winickoff has brought entirely new skills and expertise to the Division of Society and Environment, the Dept. of Environmental Science Policy and Management, and the College. Due to his interdisciplinary initiatives, he is already well-known on campus and has served as a co-director of the Center for Science and Technology Studies. His publications, on thorny bioethical issues such as genomics, are influential and accessible to both specialized and wider audiences. A committed teacher, his courses have attracted a large number of students from many disciplines.


Pictured: Professor Nancy Peluso, Chair Division of Society and Environment and lead nominator, Professor David Winickoff, Young Faculty/CE Award Recipient and Dean J. Keith Gilless

After the awards ceremony colleagues, friends and family celebrated the award winners at a special reception at Morgan Hall.

May 19, 2010

Ecologist urges caution in Gulf Coast oil cleanup

Photo by:

Article by: Heather Ishimaru

BERKELEY, CA (KGO) -- Once the Gulf Coast oil spill is contained, the next problem will be how to clean it up.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Ecology Department is led by Terry Hazen, who says after picking up as much oil as possible, "exercise extreme caution about whatever else you do."

Hazen has more than 30 years experience studying the effects of oil spills. He says the oil will be damaging enough; toxic dispersants will just make it worse. He points to the 1978 Amoco Cadiz Spill off the coast of Normandy as an example. He says areas where dispersants were used still have not fully recovered, while areas where there was no human intervention are now fine.

Hazen says oil is a biological, biodegradable product. In the Gulf alone, oil naturally seeps at a rate of twice the Exxon Valdez spill every year, and nature takes care of it.

"There are no magic bugs, no magic foo-foo dust, we should just rely on the environment to do what it can do best," he said.

There are scenarios where a dispersant might be called for, like if an endangered species is at risk from the short-term effects of a spill.

Thomas Azwell is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources. He designed an organic cleaning process used in the Cosco Busan spill. Natural fiber mats are used to collect the oil, then earthworms eat the microbes. The result is worm waste that can be used as fertilizer -- 10 cubic yards of it ended up on Presidio landscaping.

Azwell worked on off-shore oil rigs before his academic career.

He does not plan to seek a patent for his process; he just wants to provide a solution available to everyone.

"So if I really want to scale this and I really want this to disseminate across, not only geographical, but economical borders, then I would need this to be free," Azwell said.

Hazen and a team from the Lawrence Berkeley Lab could soon be on their way to the Gulf. It would be a research trip, possibly in collaboration with University of Alabama, Florida State University, Gulf Coast Research Lab (Southern Mississippi University), Louisiana State University, the DOE and BP.

May 17, 2010

UC Berkeley Has a Logging Team?

By Judith Scherr

When tree-loving activists spent twenty months trying to save a stand of oak trees next to UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, it made national news. The activists were attempting to block the university from cutting down the oaks to build a $125 million athletic training center. But just a short distance away, members of the Cal logging team were chopping down about a dozen or so live, healthy trees for sport — as they do every year — and no one protested. The reason? The students don't cut down oaks; they fell eucalyptus and Monterey Pine trees.

The UC Berkeley logging, what? you may be asking. Few people know that logging is a team sport — and even fewer know that Cal has such a team. More astonishing, perhaps, is that it consists of ten women and only three men — so much for stereotypes. The UC Berkeley logging team competes with other schools, including Humboldt State and Cal Poly, throwing axes, chopping, tossing logs, manual and chainsaw sawing, and more.

And nobody seems to care that when the Cal team practices, the students kill healthy eucalyptus trees and the occasional Monterey Pine. Their practice area is up above campus on university-owned land just west of Grizzly Peak Boulevard at the South Park Road intersection, across the street from East Bay Regional Parks District land.

Ariel Thomson is co-coordinator of the university logging team, part of Cal's forestry club, and she plans to declare a forestry major next year. Practice in the hills above campus serves a dual purpose, she said. They get ready for the three competitive events they participate in each year, and they "reduce the fuel load," she said. "We're helping by managing the property, by cutting down invasive species," she added. "Sometimes we'll take down a Monterey Pine. Monterey Pines are not native. We cut them down to usable sizes." The students re-use the logs they've cut to line trails and create hillside steps.

So, are members of the tree-sit-in riled up about the Cal logging team? Former Mayor Shirley Dean, 71 at the time of the Memorial Grove protests, was among the more celebrated tree sitters who rotated into perches in the trees under the TV cameras' glare as part of protests to call attention to the university plan to remove the trees. Would the diminutive former mayor scamper up a eucalyptus to save it? "No," she said firmly. "The eucalyptus is not native — it's an invasive species." Dean added that blazing eucalyptus trees were one of the causes for the 1923 Berkeley hills fire that burned 584 structures in two hours.

Not even the local Berkeley and Oakland governments, which have ordinances to protect trees, take a stand for the eucalyptus. Berkeley municipal law addresses only the Coast Live Oak and says people who want to cut down oaks whose trunks are larger than six inches must go through a difficult permit process. But any other tree, including eucalyptus and Monterey Pine, are fair game. Oakland also consciously leaves the two non-natives unprotected: "A protected tree is Coast Live Oak four inches or larger in diameter, measured four and a half feet above the ground, or any other species nine inches in diameter or larger, except Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine trees," the law states.

Dan Grassetti of the Hills Conservation Network usually speaks — and fights — in defense of eucalyptus trees, but even he says cutting down a dozen of the fast-growing Australian natives every year is inconsequential. He and the Hills Conservation Network say the problem is clear-cutting the trees.

UC Berkeley began such a program about five years ago before Grassetti and his group helped stop it, and he said he fears clear-cutting eucalyptus may be on the horizon again. That's because on April 20 the East Bay Regional Parks District board of directors approved a fuel-reduction plan for 19,000 acres of district parkland: the EBRPD Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan Environmental Impact Report. And according to Grassetti, the district plans to clear cut eucalyptus as part of the plan.

Stephen Stoll, director of the UC Berkeley's Office of Emergency Services and Homeland Security, is among those who believe that eucalyptus fueled the 1991 and 1923 fires. Eucalyptus trees create "a huge fuel load," Stoll said. "It's one of the fastest growing trees." He added that it burns easily due to its oil content.

But Grassetti's Hills Conservation Network argues that the eucalyptuses are not responsible for the large Oakland-Berkeley conflagrations, and that eucalyptus groves can actually help prevent fires. "Removal of the shade canopy ensures that all manner of invasive weeds, flammable brush and chaparral ... will move in," states an article in the Hills Conservation Network's February 2009 newsletter, also noting that the chips left behind from clear cutting "pose another level of fire risk." Up where the students practice cutting trees, there is evidence of the campus' clear-cutting effort — tree stumps, some surrounded by their chips, stand out in the grassy areas.

Grassetti said the Hills Conservation Network plans to sue the park district over its approval of the April 20 environmental document. As for the logging team, its members enmeshed in final exams for the moment, will continue to cut down trees and practice chopping logs up in the hills, leaving to others the debate on the flammability of the eucalyptus and pines.

May 13, 2010

In Memoriam: ARE Alum David Edward Buschena

by David Zilberman

Last week I lost a dear friend, collaborator, and one of our most beloved alumni as Dave Buschena past away after a valiant struggle with cancer. I first heard about Dave when his professor at University of Minnesota and our alumni, Claudia Parliament, called me to recommend him for our graduate program. She described Dave as “super bright, hard working, and a really nice guy that really cares about agriculture and the world.” This was an apt description. Dave took my first year class and even though he lacked in mathematical training, he caught on really fast and was one of the best students. I was teaching risk at the time and he would always approach me after class to ask me questions about risk management and what the theory implies for trading and farming. Many times I didn’t understand his questions and in most cases I couldn’t answer what he asked. It was clear to me that I was teaching risk, but he was managing risk. And indeed he was a practitioner of risk management, and he was a wonderful advisor to people who were interested in agricultural risk management.

Dave has had incredible intellectual curiosity and he was interested in many topics, including industrial organization of agriculture, consumer preferences for food and what affects it, and international trade and international relationships. His dissertation was on the economics of risk management. Dave realized the limitations of traditional expected utility theory that was being used to manage risk and was fascinated by new behavioral theories that modified it. He got the insight that people make different choices when alternatives are similar or dissimilar, they use more rigorous rules between choices that are different, while using almost random choices when things are similar. His dissertation was set to test this theory. While he came with this idea, it started appearing in the literature so his main contribution was to show that the similarity approach really worked empirically. In order to do it, he became an expert on experimental design working with Barbara Mellers in the psychology department to develop an “industrial strength” experiment to test his hypothesis, and indeed the data proved him right, and he went on to publish several influential papers. His work on risk was so good that one of the papers that we submitted to Journal of Risk and Uncertainty was accepted “as is,” the only time that it ever happened to me. Dave was one of the key people to introduce modern behavioral and psychological risk analysis to agricultural economics and at the same time was crucial in developing practical and simple rules for risk management. `

Continue reading "In Memoriam: ARE Alum David Edward Buschena " »

Professor Awarded Prestigious BREAD Grant

The National Science Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have awarded Professor Brian Staskawicz a BREAD Program grant. Staskawicz is the current chair of the department of plant and microbial biology at the College of Natural Resources. He is one of 15 grantees in the US being funded by the NSF-Gates partnership. He will receive a $1.3M grant to support his project on the bacterial blight disease of cassava.

BREAD is a new five-year program jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The two entities are partnering to support innovative scientific research designed to address key constraints to smallholder agriculture in the developing world.

Bacterial blight disease of cassava (CBB) incited by the pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis (Xam) has become a serious threat to cassava production in several developing countries in both Africa and South America.

Currently, bacterial blight of cassava is extremely difficult to control, as it has been very problematic to breed for resistance. The genomic sequencing of naturally occurring strains of Xam will identify conserved effectors proteins that will be employed as molecular probes to identify new sources of resistant germplasm. The development of novel and durable resistant varieties that recognize the PthB effector will have a broad impact on farmers in developing countries as the novel transgenes that Staskawicz’ team propose to construct can be introduced into the many different varieties that are currently being planted. The development of CBB-resistant varieties will have enormous implications for food security in countries in which cassava is a major staple food.

The work of the Staskawicz lab will also train a new generation of scientists to work on developing bacterial blight resistant cassava and provide novel approaches that could be applied to other crops in developing countries.

May 6, 2010

CNR Homecoming 2010

510-642-6707 or

Friday-Saturday, October 8-9, 2010

Come back to campus and enjoy all the festivities being planned for CNR alumni parents, friends and students.

Join us in the lovely Giannini Hall lobby and enjoy continental breakfast with Peets coffee, fresh pastries, and other refreshments during the State of the College Address by Dean J. Keith Gilless Giannini Hall Lobby 9:30a.m.

CNR Faculty & Alumni Homecoming Lectures

There are a variety of faculty lectures to choose from all across campus, including current CNR Faculty! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the wonderful research being done at CNR and the opportunity to ask questions during the interactive Q&A session following each.

Friday, October 8, 2010 11am
Banatao Auditorium,
Sutardja Dai Hall

Professor Peggy Lemaux, Plant & Microbial Biology
“Food, Famine and the Future of Farming”

Friday,October 8 4:00-5:30 pm
Bancroft Hotel
2680 Bancroft Way

Neal Ewald '78, Green Diamond Resource Company
S.J. Hall Lecture
"Declaring Peace in Timber Country: Sustainable Forests in a Perpetual Business”

Saturday, October 9 10:30 am
Alumni House

Professor Andreas Stahl, Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology
“Fat Chance:How exploring the mechanisms of cellular lipid uptake may change the ways we treat obesity related diseases”

Saturday, October 9 1:30 pm
Banatao Auditorium Sutardja Dai Hall

Professor Kimberly Tallbear, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology and Environmental Policy
“'Our DNA is Your Property?' Reconfiguring Ethics in Genome Research”

CNR Alumni Association Picnic

Giannini Hall – outside on the lawn 11:00 am

RSVP for the Picnic

The CNR Alumni Association is also hosting a community picnic. Come on by Giannini Hall and enjoy the festivities on the lawn and toast to one another with the following spirits donated by CNR alumni:

-Aetna Springs Cellars
With thanks to Jim Watson, B.S. ’48 Forestry

-Gundlach-Bundschu Winery
With thanks to Jim Bundschu, B.S. ’66, Agricultural Sciences

-Cooper Garrod Estate Vineyards
With thanks to Vince Garrod, B.S. ’42, Agricultural Sciences

-Gordon Biersch Brewery
With thanks to Dan Gordon, B.S. ’82, Political Economy of Natural Resources

-Charles Spinetta Winery
With thanks to Charles Spinetta, B.S. ’63, Forestry

-Talley Vineyards
With thanks to Brian Talley, B.S. ’88, Political Economy of Natural Resources

- Casa Lola
With thanks to John Casazza, B.S. ’77, Soil and Plant Nutrition

For more information on our wine partners visit CNR Wine Partners.

For more information on the Homecoming festivities, please contact Donna Chan at 510-642-6707 or

Dr. Athanasios (Sakis) Theologis has been selected to receive the 2010 ASPB Stephen Hales Prize


Sakis Theologis is recognized for his sustained and outstanding contributions to plant science for more than 30 years. Until his recent retirement from active research, Sakis was an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, and a research scientist at the United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service–UC Berkeley Plant Gene Expression Center. Sakis established a superb record of professional service, including being a founding instructor of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Arabidopsis summer course and a key member of a small group of scientists who imagined, developed, and led the multinational Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI). His enthusiasm for science is evident and pervasive, and he has been a truly inspiring mentor and colleague to many plant biologists.

During his career, Sakis made fundamental discoveries relating to the physiology of fruit ripening, the mechanism and regulation of ethylene synthesis and action, and the molecular basis of auxin action. For example, he was the first to isolate the gene for ACC synthase, which catalyzes the rate-determining step in ethylene biosynthesis, and he was the first to clearly show that auxin rapidly stimulates transcription of specific genes. Those in the field acknowledge that Sakis’s early work laid the foundation for our current detailed knowledge of auxin signaling. During the last part of his career, he was a pioneer in the effort to move plants into the genomics age. In 2000, the sequence of Arabidopsis chromosome 1 was published in Nature in the same issue as the complete genome sequence. The chromosome 1 paper had multiple authors, of course, but Sakis was both the senior and corresponding author of this landmark paper.
In short, Sakis effectively integrated the qualities of research scientist, educator/mentor, and leader in the field of modern plant hormone biology and genomics, and in so doing he served the science of plant biology in a most noteworthy manner. Sakis Theologis is therefore highly deserving of this honor.

Stephen Hales Prize

This award honors the Reverend Stephen Hales for his pioneering work in plant biology published in his 1727 book Vegetable Staticks. It is a monetary award established in 1927 for a scientist, whether or not a member of the Society, who has served the science of plant biology in some noteworthy manner. The award is made annually. The recipient of the award is invited to address the Society on a subject in plant biology at the next annual meeting.

May 4, 2010

UC Berkeley launches Master's in Sustainability

By José Rodríguez, UC Berkeley Marketing & Communications


Recognizing the proven leadership of campus faculty and students in addressing climate change, poverty and public health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today (Tuesday, May 4) selected the University of California, Berkeley, as one of 10 universities worldwide to launch a new master’s degree program in development practice.

UC Berkeley and UC Davis were the only two U.S. universities given MacArthur grants this week to set up the program. They and the eight foreign universities also selected are now part of a global network of 20 schools offering advanced degrees in sustainable development practices. Last year, five U.S. and five foreign universities became the first to join the network. The MacArthur Foundation gave grants today totaling $5.6 million; UC Berkeley will receive $800,000 to support this program.

The UC Berkeley program will provide rigorous, cross-disciplinary professional training for future leaders in sustainable development, enrolling 50 students in a two-year master’s degree program that will welcome its first 25 students in fall 2011. It will be housed in the College of Natural Resources and combine the work of faculty across the campus in fields including engineering, business, public health and public policy.

The campus’s success in establishing innovative programs and institutes that cut across diverse disciplines – including the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program and the Blum Center for Developing Economies – coupled with the strong interest of about 200 UC Berkeley faculty and hundreds of students in pursuing sustainable development studies, contributed to its selection by the MacArthur Foundation, said David Zilberman, professor of agricultural and resource economics in the College of Natural Resources. Zilberman helped spearhead the effort to establish the program on campus.

“Berkeley is already a leading center of education and research on development and the environment, and always has been a ‘world’ university with concern and emphasis on global issues, the future of humanity, the future of the planet, issues of justice and sustainability,” Zilberman said. “The MDP will take advantage of the resources of the campus and provide an effective avenue to educate the environmental and development leaders of the future.”

The program will give students managerial and leadership skills, as well as a broad understanding of natural and human systems, so they can pursue development projects in a sustainable way.

Because UC Berkeley will be part of a worldwide network of universities providing this graduate degree program, students here will be able to collaborate with others around the globe and participate in projects in different countries. These include the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (Costa Rica), the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study in Agriculture (the Philippines), and St. Petersburg State University (Russia).

About 50 UC Berkeley students a year will work in internships as part of the program, gaining a hands-on, “real-world” foundation in sustainable development projects.

The MacArthur Foundation selected UC Berkeley through a competitive process that included reviews by experts outside the foundation. Universities were selected based on five criteria, including support from top university leadership, excellent infrastructure and academic programs, and the ability to serve as regional hub; geographic representation among students and exceptional faculty across the four core competencies of the natural, health, and social sciences and management; and a timeline and business plan for financial sustainability when funding ends in three years.

To learn more about the other universities around the world that will also launch this exciting program click here


CNR Calendar

Monthly Archives

Recent Posts

John Casazza Returns from a Volunteer Assignment in the Republic of Georgia
Agriculture Briefs: Presentation on pollinators
'Discounting' the future cost of climate change
CNR Awards
Ecologist urges caution in Gulf Coast oil cleanup
UC Berkeley Has a Logging Team?
In Memoriam: ARE Alum David Edward Buschena
Professor Awarded Prestigious BREAD Grant
CNR Homecoming 2010
Dr. Athanasios (Sakis) Theologis has been selected to receive the 2010 ASPB Stephen Hales Prize


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