Former UT scientist calls for climate change action

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Dr. Dan Terpstra, climate change activist and retired UT senior scientist, issued a call to action and a reevaluation of opinions at the East Tennessee History Center Wednesday while speaking at this month’s Books Sandwiched In. Terpstra advocated for a social tipping point he believes is necessary to end the climate crisis.

“Your generation is the one that is going to deal with the consequences of climate change,” he said, “so it’s up to you to figure out how to get those of us in the power structure accountable. This is your fight.”

As climate change begins to make more noise on the world stage, Terpstra urged those who disregard the controversial issue to look at science.

“98 percent of the climate scientists say unequivocally that (climate change) is happening. It’s been turned into an ideological, political hot potato in the U.S. and it doesn’t need to be. The science is clear,” he said.

While discussing the book This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus Climate Change by Naomi Klein, Terpstra covered issues that he and the author identify as major climate problems. Klein identifies climate change as a holistic issue to be dealt with. However, Terpstra noted his specific concern with fossil fuels.

“The way we use energy is what drives our relationship to climate change. I’m in the place where I feel like fossil fuels trump everything. That’s what we have to deal with somehow if we’re going to get our hands around this whole issue of how we are going to slow climate change.”

Terpstra further noted Klein’s opposition to globalization and unregulated free trade of capitalism.

“First world nations started exporting their manufacturing, and along with their manufacturing they started exporting their pollution, and therefore also exporting their guilt,” he said.

Terpstra mentioned several economic policies that prevent the U.S. from doing more about climate change. He cited TransCanada’s current lawsuit against the U.S. for $15 billion over trade loss because of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The basis for the suit lies in a clause that is present in the North American Free Trade Agreement about enacting policies that restrict trade.

“Love of place has to trump love of corporation,” said Terpstra. “We have created a crisis by not acting.”

“In years past the answer would have been something like drive a Prius, change your lightbulb, weather strip your windows. These days, everything has shifted. We have to go beyond that. We have to act collectively in community otherwise we aren’t going to have the power to change institutions, only lightbulbs.”

Executive director of Tennessee Clean Water Network Renée Victoria Hoyos will lead the discussion about the novel Cool It!: The Skeptical Environmentalists Guide to Global Warming by Bjørn Lombørg at 12 p.m. on Feb. 17 at the East Tennessee History Center.

Featured image courtesy of creativecommons.org

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt

McClung Museum curator discusses Civil War history

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Knoxville had little fire in the Civil War fight until people were forced to choose a side, according to Joan Markel, UT McClung Museum’s curator of Civil War history. For the first half of the war, the city of Knoxville sided with the Confederacy until Union troops moved in and its alliance reverted back to the North.

“It wasn’t our fight, but it became our fight,” Markel said.

Markel addressed approximately 80 guests at the afternoon lecture on Sunday, Jan. 24. The lecture was a part of the McClung Museum’s 6th annual Civil War Lecture series titled “An All-American City Endures: Knoxvillians at War 1860-1865.”

Since 1995, Markel has been compiling a database from census data, deeds, taxes, birth records, death records and historical letters from the Civil War. Markel has also been working alongside the East Tennessee Civil War Alliance and University of Tennessee Honors Students to transcribe regimental records.

The fact-filled lecture provided a substantial overview of the data Markel used to uncover 300 accounts of Knoxville residents who participated in Civil War activities.

Because there are more complete, historical records, the lecture focused on white male land owners. However, there were special cases where Markel managed to uncover accounts of both African Americans and women.

One of the only accounts Markel had of an African American woman was that of Knoxville’s first African American school teacher Laura Ann Scott Cansler. Records of “She-Rebels,” or staunch southern women who taunted Union soldiers, were also identified.

Markel believes that it is important for students to know about Civil War history.

“I think that human nature is such that democracies have to be about compromise and when you reach a point when you aren’t willing to talk to the other side, serious things can happen,” Markel said.

Markel hopes that the Civil War Alliance and UT’s Honors Students will help garner more insight into local Civil War figures.

The next lecture in the Civil War series, Politicians and Lawmakers: Attempting to Maintain Control, will be on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. in the McClung Museum auditorium.

Featured image by Thomas Delgado

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt and Jessica Carr

Sex Week lecture discusses if ‘Selling Your Body’ is morally right

“I don’t think it’s morally wrong at all to engage in sex work,” said Nora Berenstain, assistant professor of philosophy.

Berenstain’s lecture titled, “The Ethics of Sex Work,” was held on April 10, at University Center Crest Room as part of Sex Week 2015.

Dr. Nora Berenstain, assistant professor of philosophy, delivered a lecture titled "The Ethics of Sex Work" at the University Center Crest Room on April 10th. She discussed the negative perception and mistreatment of sex workers by society.
Dr. Nora Berenstain, assistant professor of philosophy, delivered a lecture titled “The Ethics of Sex Work” at the University Center Crest Room on April 10th. She discussed the negative perception and mistreatment of sex workers by society.

The issue of sex workers, perceived negatively and treated unfairly, surrounded the discussion.

Berenstain offered insight into understanding their mistreatment.

“The term sex worker was coined by sex workers as a way to make people start to reconceptualize sex work as just in line with conventional service industry,” Berenstain said.

As sex work is a conventional service, Berenstain added that it is often a last resort to surviving in our capitalist society.

Berenstain used the example of Janet Mock, a black and native Hawaiian trans woman, who engaged in sex work as a minor to pay for her transition surgery.

“Mock says that frequently your body is the only asset that marginalized people have.  One of the things you have is your body that can be used as an asset to make money for the purpose of survival,” Berenstain said.

Isaac Sherman, senior in computer science, provided a first-hand account of sex worker’s treatment.

“I had a friend who was a stripper and she was just treated terribly and I started looking into it, and that seems to be the case anywhere you go in this country with sex workers,” Sherman said. “It’s one horror story after another.”

To read a description of the event’s topics click here.

Edited by Jessica Carr

School board debates budget spending on instructional coaches

Superintendent Dr. McIntyre, far left, discusses the importance of instructional coaches at the Knox County School Board work session Monday, March 30.
Superintendent James McIntyre, far left, discusses the importance of instructional coaches at the Knox Co. School Board work session Monday, March 30.

The Knox Co. School Board met Monday, March 30 in the First Floor Board Room of the Andrew Johnson Building for a work session, where members were able to express uncertainties with elements of the preliminary $440 million budget.

With the discussion of the General Purpose budget for the 2016 federal year, some board members considered the need to spend over $4 million on instructional coaches.

Amber Rountree, ninth district representative, worried whether instructional coaches are beneficial in the academic sphere.

“While I’m not saying that these coaches are a waste, I am just concerned that with our limited funds, is this the best way to spend money for our students?” she asked.

Knox Co. superintendent James P. McIntyre responded to Rountree by addressing the need for instructional coaches as a valuable asset to the classroom.

“Instructional coaches are a valuable investment; they are effective in helping to build capacity and to make us collectively better at what we do in educating kids,” he said.

Further, Tracie Sanger, second district representative, defined instructional coaches as “former teachers assigned to certain schools to help teachers refine their teaching skills.”

“The coaches help teachers plan and come up with small assessments or can be very specific as in an ELA coach or a math coach,” she said.

Sanger said she feels the budget is providing enough for the instructional coaches and that she would be saddened to see them go away.

For more information about the General Purpose budget, click here.

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt 

McClung Museum holds lecture on archaeology in Cumberland Gap

McClung Museum held a lecture on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap Wednesday, March 4.

Charles Finney, president of the Archaeology Institute of America (AIA) East Tennessee Society, introduced speakers Tom Des Jean and Martha

Tom Des Jean and Martha Wiley give a lecture on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap at McClung Museum.//Photo by Ryan McGill
Tom Des Jean and Martha Wiley give a lecture on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap at McClung Museum.//Photo by Ryan McGill

Wiley, whom began with the history of the Gap.

Des Jean, who was with park services at Big South Fork for 28 years, began the lecture by giving information on the location and the formation of the Cumberland Gap.

“The importance of the Gap is that it opened up an access corridor across the Appalachian Plateau,” he said.

Wiley, a historian at Cumberland Gap, talked about several people passing through the Gap because it allowed for easier colonization.

“We also know that Abraham Lincoln’s father and mother came through the Gap westward bound when they were children,” Wiley said.

The speakers then led into the Civil War, where both armies battled for control of the Gap.

“The Confederacy were the first to occupy the Gap,” said Des Jean. “…but soon they were

Tom Des Jean and Dr. Aleydis Van De Moortel speak after a lecture at the McClung museum on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap. // Photo by Ryan McGill
Tom Des Jean and Dr. Aleydis Van De Moortel speak after a lecture at the McClung museum on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap. // Photo by Ryan McGill

dislodged by the federal army in the Ohio.”

The Confederacy continued to control the Gap until the Union forces gained control.

“It was through this tug of war that both armies established campsites in the saddle of the Gap and artifacts were found here in abundance,”

said Des Jean.

Such artifacts found include flint, cannonballs and soldier graffiti.

“We know a lot more about our Civil War history through graffiti found within the Gap,” said Wiley.

Although many artifacts have been found, Des Jean described the difficulty deflation and debris fields cause when attempting to find and excavate artifact locations.

Martha Wiley and Tom Des Jean have fun after their lecture on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap.//Photo by Ryan McGill
Martha Wiley and Tom Des Jean have fun after their lecture on archaeology in the Cumberland Gap.//Photo by Ryan McGill

Because of this, bridges and other structures are built to avoid future damage to sites.

After the Civil War, reoccupation began in the Gap, with the building of hotels, settlements such as the Hensley Complex, and several companies.

The Gap now holds a multitude of tourist attractions and views while still seeing its fair share of archaeological excavations.

Although much has been found, there is still much more to be discovered and documented. For example, Des Jean said Native American artifacts are difficult to come by.

“The artifact that I would like to see would be an excavation that would have a whole lot of data and artifacts that gives us a much bigger picture of the Native American use of that particular area,” Des Jean said.

Following the lecture, a reception was held where attendee Randy Hartwig said he enjoyed “the combination of history and archaeology.”

Edited by Hannah Hunnicutt 

 

 

 

Teacher Advisory Committee addresses technology access in Knox County Schools

Members of the Teacher Advisory Committee voiced concerns about current educational issues at the Knoxville Board of Education work session, held March 2 in the Andrew Johnson Building.

Heidi Walsh, fifth grade teacher at Christenberry Elementary School and a second-year member of the committee, was one of the three teachers who spoke about the need to prioritize accessibility of technology for students across schools.

Members of the Knox County Teacher Advisory Committee spoke at the Knoxville Board of Education work session on March 2 in the Andrew Johnson Building. At the far left is Jannice Clark, middle is Kristie Pell, and right is Heidi Walsh. Walsh discussed the need to improve the availiability of  technology in Knox County Schools.
Members of the Knox County Teacher Advisory Committee spoke at the Knoxville Board of Education work session on March 2 in the Andrew Johnson Building. At the far left is Jannice Clark, middle is Kristie Pell, and right is Heidi Walsh. Walsh discussed the need to improve the availiability of technology in Knox County Schools.

“We need to move forward with technology in order to support the testing and the requirements that are required by us by the state,” Walsh said during her speech at the session.

Heidi discussed the difference in school performance in the mandatory writing assessment. She said schools with one to one computing–the program in which academic institutions grant each student an Internet-accessible device–were able to easily conduct the assessment in comparison to those without this technological access.

“The schools that had one to one didn’t really have any logistical nightmares,” Walsh said.

Walsh said seeing the success of the one-to-one schools with the writing assessment was an indicator of a possibility for technological reform. The logistics of what schools to modify first and on how large of a scale are what the committee is in the process of reviewing.

Walsh also expressed concern about setbacks for elementary students who lack keyboarding skills.

“If we had technology available in every classroom or a majority or a high amount of our students, we’d have an easier time with them getting those keyboarding practice skills,” Walsh said.

Walsh proposed small increments at a time to reform the technology budget. She feels technology availability in schools needs to be at the top of the board of education’s priority list.

The other two advisory committee members who spoke were Kristie Pell, a special education teacher at Powell High School, and Jannice Clark, a mathematics teacher at Kelley Volunteer Academy.

Members of the Knoxville Board of Education are shown discussing the agenda for the work session tonight. The session was held on March 2 in the Andrew Johnson Building.
Members of the Knoxville Board of Education are shown discussing the agenda for the work session tonight. The session was held on March 2 in the Andrew Johnson Building.

The advisory committee began in 2013 and currently meets once per month at West High School. The committee is made up of teachers, counselors and other school staff who discuss reforms needed for the education system. Members of the committee represent Knox County schools.

To view a list of members on the 2014-2015 Teacher Advisory Committee, click here.

Edited by Courtney Anderson