Climate Change Documentary to Be Shown in Syracuse on October 16th

Over one billion people worldwide are dependent upon fish as the principle source of protein. Now, imagine a world without fish; the potential economic, social and environmental impact is enormous.  It is a terrifying premise, and it’s happening right now.

On Friday, October 16th at The Palace Theatre (2384 James Street, Syracuse), GreeningUSA and the Syracuse International Film Festival will sponsor a screening of the award winning, critically acclaimed climate change documentary, A Sea Change. Doors open at 5:15 p.m. and the film program will begin at 6:45 p.m. A panel discussion and Q&A session will be held immediately following the film. Panelists include Barbara Ettinger (documentary filmmaker), Sven Huseby (main protagonist in the film), and Bruce Monger, Ph.D. (climate scientist at Cornell University). Chris Bolt (WAER news and public affairs director) will moderate. Advance sale tickets for A Sea Change are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors (age 60+), students, and family members (at least one parent and child under age 18). Tickets prices at the door on the day of the event will be $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for family members. Free parking will be available in the rear of The Palace Theatre.

A global warming horror story, neatly wrapped up in a tender love story by a grandfather to his grandson, A Sea Change follows the journey of Sven Huseby on his quest to discover what is happening to the worlds oceans and the implications it will have on all of humanity. As Huseby discovers along his journey, and as Pope Francis reminds us, we must begin “…a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (Laudato Si’, paragraph 14).

For additional information on the documentary we suggest reading the New York Times article written by Elizabeth Kolbert entitled The Darkening Sea. This article was the inspiration for A Sea Change.

Three Awarded McDevitt Fellowships in Information Systems

The McDevitt Center would like to congratulate Jonathan Martial ’17, Steven Middleton ’16, and Jean-Phillipe Rancy ’16 on their selection as McDevitt Undergraduate Fellows in Information Systems for the 2015-16 academic year.  Each McDevitt Fellow will work closely with Dr. Martha Grabowski, Distinguished McDevitt Professor in Information Systems. Martial and Middleton will develop research projects around arctic search and rescue models and Rancy will continue his research developing Google Glass applications for ship navigation.  In addition, the Fellows and will participate in regular research meetings led by Dr. Grabowski. This fellowship includes a $4,000 stipend.

(Picture by Dr. Martha Grabowski.  From left to right: Jonathan Martial, Jean-Phillipe Rancy, and Steven Middleton)

Coyne to Speak on Science and Religion

20100111cnsbr00088On Wednesday, October 21st from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Moon Library on the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) campus, Fr. George Coyne (McDevitt Chair in Physics) will join Dr. Warren Allmon (director of the Paleontological Research Institution in Ithaca and professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University) to address Heaven and Earth: The Relationship Between Science and Religion.

The talk is part of SUNY ESF’s “Moonlighting” series. “Moonlighting” is a series of informal discussions, debates and interviews hosted by Dr. Quentin Wheeler, president of SUNY ESF. For centuries, the university has been the place where freedom of speech and thought are cherished, but also where ideas and assertions are freely challenged through open, respectful discourse that knows no disciplinary boundaries. Moonlighting is intended to foster such discourse and create an enjoyable, intellectually stimulating evening.

The event is free and open to the public but registration is required should you plan to attend. For more information and to register please visit the event website.

Behuniak to Speak on The “Demented” and the Undead

The very human yearning for immortality helps explain pop culture’s obsession with vampires and zombies. Such fantasies allow us to grapple – from a safe distance – with pressing questions of mortality, meaning, and personhood. But casual references to the undead can also harm.

photo-7-1Join us on Monday, September 21st at 5:30 p.m. in Le Moyne’s Panasci Family Chapel as Dr. Susan Behuniak discusses the implications of applying the zombie trope to people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

This lecture is the first in this semester’s McDevitt Center lecture series on the Future of Being Human and is being offered in conjunction with a class of the same name that examines the question of what it means to be human in the twenty-first century from a multi-disciplinary lens.

Dr. Susan Behuniak is the author of A Caring Jurisprudence: Listening to Patients at the Supreme Court and the co-author of Physician Assisted Suicide: The Anatomy of a Constitutional Law Issue. She is a professor emerita of political science at Le Moyne College, where she served as the Francis J. Fallon Professor. She volunteered for years at Hospice of Central New York as an instructor and as a family caregiver, and is now a member of the Tidewell Hospice Bioethics Committee in Sarasota, Fla.

To learn more about Dr. Behuniak and her work, we suggest reading this brief article,“Semiprivate”(The American Journal of Nursing Volume Number 109 (February 2009):11), this slightly lengthier review of her book A Caring Jurisprudence, or this article entitled The living dead? The construction of people with Alzheimer’s disease as zombies.

This lecture is free and open to the public. For additional information please contact the McDevitt Center at or (315)445-6200.


Assessing Pope Francis’ Call for an Integral Ecology

Join us on September 16th at 6:00 p.m. in Le Moyne’s Panasci Family Chapel as we host a set of three short talks discussing the recently released papal encyclical, Laudato Si’.

Dr. Christiana Peppard (Fordham) will address the contents of the encyclical itself; Dr. Lawrence Tanner (Le Moyne) will discuss the science of climate change; and Dr. Jame Schaefer (Marquette) will speak to our ethical implication in climate change and the action that Pope Francis is calling Catholics – and others – to take.

IMG_0279Dr. Peppard received her Ph.D. from Yale University, an M.A.R. in Ethics from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University. She is the author of Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis (Orbis Books, 2014) explores the problem of fresh water scarcity in an era of climate change and economic globalization. In addition to authoring numerous peer-reviewed articles, Peppard’s research has also appeared in TED-Ed,, the History Channel, Microsoft’s Global Innovators in Education blog, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post.

To learn more about Dr. Peppard we suggest reading this editorial she wrote entitled “What You Need to Know About Pope Francis’s Environmental Encyclical.”

TannerDr. Lawrence Tanner received his Ph.D. from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an M.S. from the University of Tulsa, and a B.A. from Williams College. He currently serves as the Director for the Center for the Study of Environmental Change at Le Moyne. Tanner has a passionate concern for the rapidly changing environment of our Earth.  He encourages solidarity between environmental action groups and faith traditions in addressing these issues. Tanner is also widely published, having penned over 90 papers, books, and meeting abstracts.

For additional information on Dr. Tanner we suggest this article entitled “Dr. Lawrence Tanner, Director of The Center For The Study of Environmental Change, On Papal Encyclical.”

SchaeferDr. Jame Schaefer teaches undergraduate and graduate students at Marquette University to engage in theological discourse informed by our contemporary scientific view of the world. Having received her Ph.D. from Marquette University, Schaefer specializes in Systematic Theology and Ethics, Religious Foundations for Ecological Ethics, and Theological Anthropology.

For additional information on Dr. Schaefer please read this short paper, “Anticipating Pope Francis’ Forthcoming Encyclical on the Human-Earth Relationship”.

This event is sponsored by the McDevitt Center at Le Moyne College, the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, and the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.  For more information please contact the McDevitt Center at or (315) 445-6200.

Understanding Laudato Si’

In Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Laudato Si’ (Praise Be or Praise Be to You), he issued an urgent call for all who dwell on our sustaining earth to act to confront the impending environmental crisis.

Join us on September 16th at 6:00 p.m. in Le Moyne’s Panasci Family Chapel as we host a set of three short talks discussing the contents of the encyclical itself, the science of climate change, and our ethical implication in climate change and the action for which Pope Francis is calling.

If you would like to engage in further discussions regarding Laudato Si’, you may wish to register for a free class offered through the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. This short course provides an overview of the main themes and messages of Laudato Si’ and encourages dialogue about one critical aspect of sustainable development: the moral responsibility to live sustainably. The course also provides a forum for participants to discuss, debate, and share their thoughts and ideas.

Ten Receive Prestigious McDevitt Fellowship in Natural Science Award

The McDevitt Center would like to congratulate the following ten students selected as McDevitt Undergraduate Fellows in Natural Science for the 2015-16 academic year.  Each McDevitt Fellow will work closely with a Le Moyne College faculty mentor while conducting hands on research in one of Le Moyne’s labs or in the field.  In addition, the Fellows and their mentors will participate in a monthly research seminar led by Father George Coyne, McDevitt Chair in Physics, at which they will present their research and discuss its progress. This prestigious fellowship includes a $4,000 stipend.

Daniel Bolster ‘16 (mentor: Dr. Donald McCrimmon)
Anna Curtin ‘17 (mentor: Dr. Hilary McManus)
Ronald Lowe ’16 (mentor: Dr. Devon Keeney)
Nicholas Macoretta ’16 (mentor: Dr. Hilary McManus)
Tiffany Meador ‘16 (mentor: Dr. Hilary McManus)
Xavier Schafer ’16 (mentor: Dr. Michael Masingale)
Joseph Shupperd ‘16 (mentor: Dr. Christopher Bass)
Andrew Tynon ‘16 (mentor: Dr. Patrick Yurco)
Anna Valentine ’16 (mentor: Dr. Donald McCrimmon)
Brian Wilson ’17 (mentor: Dr. Anna O’Brien)

This year’s award recipients will be researching a myriad of topics ranging from fish hybridization, green algae, electronic thin films, environmental pollution, and bird migration patterns as it correlates to climate change.

Call for Applications: Le Moyne College / Syracuse University Faculty Sustainability Fellows

Faculty from all disciplines at Le Moyne College (LMC) and Syracuse University (SU) are invited to apply for a new inter-institutional initiative:  Fall 2015 Sustainability Faculty Fellowships.  Each institution will award up to three Fellowships to promote learning, scholarship, and pedagogy related to the theme of climate change and social justice.

The remarkable Papal Encyclical on climate change, “Laudato Si’”, issued  in June, is an invitation to dialogue not only about the scientific, technical, and economic dimensions of climate change but about its moral, ethical, and social dimensions as well. A similar range of issues informs the book, This Changes Everything,  by journalist Naomi Klein (2014). In the coming semester, the LMC and SU communities will host leading experts about the Papal encyclical and Naomi Klein herself, as well as the trailblazing climate scientist Michael Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars (2012)  The Faculty Sustainability Fellows program will draw on this confluence of opportunities to bring together faculty from both institutions to explore issues of climate justice and brainstorm about ways to extend this important dialogue into the classroom and student research.

The SU Sustainability Faculty Fellows are supported by the office of the Vice President for Sustainability Initiatives.  The LMC Fellows are supported by the McDevitt Center. Fellows will receive stipends of $500, with the  potential for modest additional funding to support  collaborative initiatives. Fellows will be expected to attend three events, plus two additional meetings, and to submit a brief written report that relates the topics discussed to their respective disciplines and then lays out one or more specific ways they could be used to enhance the curriculum and opportunities for collaboration between SU and LMC. This could include a lesson plan, a new course description, ideas for student research projects, study abroad, as well as local or more broadly-based engagement opportunities. Faculty who are not already experts on climate change or sustainability are particularly encouraged to apply.

The application process can be found in the attached PDF.  The application deadline is September 1 and decisions will be announced no later than Sept.7.

Sustaining Earth Fellows App_P2

Bolster and McCrimmon Travel to Learn About Historical Bird Migration Data

Dan Bolster and biologist Jessica Zelt, Program Coordinator, review historical, hand-written records that have been digitized and entered into the Bird Phenology Program database.

Dr. Donald McCrimmon, McDevitt Research Associate and McDevitt Undergraduate Research Fellow in the Natural Sciences student Dan Bolster traveled to Laurel, MD July 21st and 22nd to the offices of the Bird Phenology Program (BPP) at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. McCrimmon and Bolster (’16), along with undergraduates Steven Houck (’14), Chris Klee (’15) and Anna Valentine (’16), have been investigating changes in the timing of spring migration during the 20th and early 21st Centuries. Their analyses of records compiled by the Cayuga Bird Club in New York (dating to 1903) and the Forbush Bird Club in Massachusetts (dating to 1932) show that 69 bird species have demonstrated statistically significant earlier yearly first observation dates in both regions, suggesting possible relationships to changes in temperatures over time.

In a blind overlooking a holding area for Whooping Cranes, Dan Bolster holds an adult crane model used by investigators during behavioral studies.

While they probe that linkage using data provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, they are also very interested in extending the migration observations further back in time. They will use BPP data for that purpose. The BPP is a collection of millions of migration card observations, dating back to the mid to late 1800s and illuminating almost a century of migration patterns and population status of birds. While there, McCrimmon and Bolster were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the PWRC’s other research projects including the Bird Banding Laboratory, endangered Whooping Cranes, and a variety of sea ducks.

Sustaining Earth: Insights from Science and Religion

On Thursday, the Vatican released Pope Francis’ 180+ page document entitled Laudato Si’ (Praised Be or Praise Be to You), which highlights the ecological crisis that is destroying our “common home.” In the encyclical, Pope Francis aligns himself with mainstream scientific thinking on climate change, declaring it a global problem with grave environmental, economic, societal, and political implications. Within that framework, he argues for a new partnership between science and religion, urging a global call to action and an ecological conversion for the faithful.

This fall, The McDevitt Center will launch a new series of public events engaging these same issues–Sustaining Earth: Insights from Science and Religion. Sustaining Earth is motivated by our sense of the urgency of the growing threats to our environment and by our conviction that our ability fully to understand and effectively engage with these threats must draw upon both scientific and broadly religious insights and perspective.  With this initiative we aim to provide all members of our campus community, area parishioners, and members of our regional community with accurate and up-to-date information about the threats, their causes, and measures that may help meet these threats.  But we also seek to ground and frame these issues within the context of broadly religious perspectives on our human relation to the environment and our ethical obligations to care for the environment—all with the intention of helping to foster informed and concerted action to sustain our earth.

The inaugural event in this new initiative, organized in concert with the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, is scheduled for the evening of September 16, 2015 and will bring together three speakers to consider Laudato Si’.  Dr. Christiana Peppard (Fordham) will address the contents of the encyclical itself and their place within the broader context of Catholic thought and Francis’ papacy.  Dr. Larry Tanner (Le Moyne) will discuss the science of climate change.  And Dr. Jame Schaefer (Marquette) will speak to our ethical implication in climate change and the action that Pope Francis is calling Catholics—and others—to take.  Additional information about this event and about Sustaining Earth will be available soon.

Additional information on the newly released encyclical may be found at the links listed below:

Read the entire papal encyclical: Laudato Si’

Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

Science, faith, policy: Excerpts from Pope Francis’ new teaching document on the environment

Pope’s encyclical generates responses from over-the-top enthusiasm to harsh dismissal

Top Ten Takeaways from ‘Laudato Si”

Supporting initiatives in Computer Science, Management/Information Systems, Philosophy, Physics, and Religious Studies at Le Moyne College.


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