Linnaeus Symposium

Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

Stepping Out watercolor by Gail Speckman '73

Stepping Out watercolor by Gail Speckman '73

By Maren Balk ’09

Ecosystem health and tree conservation are the topics of the third bi-annual Linnaeus Symposium to be held April 19-22, 2009 at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Symposium events include lectures, watercolor workshops, arboretum tours, a “tree dance,” and a special dinner.

The purpose of this Linnaeus Symposium, titled “Global Trees: Releaf, Relief,” is to teach individuals about environmental issues associated with the destruction of trees and the need to restore them as a natural resource.

The schedule of events is as follows:

  • Sunday April 19, 1-5 p.m. and Monday April 20, 5-9 p.m., Trees in Watercolor Painting Class with Gail Speckman, Melva Lind Interpretive Center;
  • Tuesday April 21, 7 p.m., Exhibit Opening “In the Spirit of Trees,” watercolors by Gail Speckman, in the interpretive center;
  • Wednesday April 22, 2:30 p.m., “Can Trees Save the World?” by Patrick Hossay, Alumni Hall;
  • 3:30 p.m., “In the Spirit of Trees” by Gail Speckman; Tours of the Arboretum; Video on Fair Trade; all in the interpretive center;
  • 5 p.m., “Dance on the Hill: Ascent/Descent” with the Apprentice Dance Company, Melissa Rolnick choreographer, on the hillside east of Old Main;
  • 5:30 p.m., Dinner (Pre-registration required; Cost is $20), Johnson Student Union; and
  • 7 p.m., “Life in the Treetops” Lecture by Margaret Lowman, Johnson Student Union.

The events and lectures will kick-off with a watercolor workshop run by Gail Speckman, a ’73 Gustavus graduate, professional artist, and instructor of art at the Edina Art Center. Speckman’s paintings will be on display in an exhibit titled “In the Spirit of Trees” in the Melva Lind Interpretive Center.

Patrick Hossay, assistant political science professor at Richard Stockton College in N.J., will present views from his book Unsustainable: A Primer for Global Environment and Social Justice.

This year’s Linnaeus Symposium features tropical rainforest canopy biologist Meg Lowman, also known as “Canopymeg.” Lowman is an internationally recognized researcher in forest canopy ecology and herbivory. Lowman has published four books about her studies in three of the most well-known rainforests of the world and even some of the most remote jungles.

Lowman’s recent autobiography, Life in the Treetops, received praise in the New York Times Sunday Book Review and elsewhere. “Canopymeg” also has a new book Forest Canopies, which represents an authoritative synthesis of data, anecdotes, case studies, observations, and recommendations from researchers and educators who have risked life and limb in their advocacy of the “High Frontier.”

In addition to rainforest explorations, Lowman also conducts global conservation work in Africa, Samoa, and Australia. Lowman is currently the Director of Environmental Initiative and Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at New College of Florida. She has recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Conservation from Sarasota County, Fla. Lowman will lecture at 7 p.m. April 23, 2009 in Alumni Hall of the Student Union at Gustavus. This lecture is free and open to the public.

The Linnaeus Symposium exposes the community to recognizable people in ecology who don’t get recognized otherwise. The event allows us to think about environmental stewardship and what we can do with the area that surrounds us,” said Cindy Johnson Groh, Gustavus professor of biology and environmental studies and executive director of Linnaeus Arboretum.

Established in 2003 in an effort to spread awareness on environmental protection, restoration, and sustainability, the Linnaeus Symposium was named for Carl Linnaeus, who developed the plant naming scheme.

The conference is an opportunity for attendees to listen, learn, and dialogue with ethnobotanists and Linnaean scholars.


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