Environmental Metanoia features art, food and films throughout the month of April

 Wagner said the committee is trying to make the topic of climate change relevant to the UConn community. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Wagner said the committee is trying to make the topic of climate change relevant to the UConn community. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Over 35 different proposals have been made for this year’s Metanoia. From films to Native American speakers and art exhibits, many of these ideas have been proposed by undergraduate students here at the University of Connecticut, said event planning committee co-chair David Wagner.

In an effort to offer as comprehensive a representation of our environmental issues as possible, the Metanoia this semester has been extended to a week-long event, running from April 15 through the 20, Wagner said. The president’s office committed $25,000 to the effort for projects and lectures.

“President Herbst was looking for a single day or event, but it seems like a one-day event doesn’t work that much,” Wagner said. “No matter who you invite it’ll only be a slice of the community. This semester we sought out different interest groups and tried to reach different audiences.”

Wagner said the committee is trying to make the topic of climate change relevant to the UConn community.

“At this point everyone has heard of climate change. Many have heard about the fires in California. They’ve experienced one of the most major hurricanes New England has faced in two or three years. They are aware of the challenges of Irma and Maria, they know those people are still suffering and the world is changing,” Wagner said. “Most people who think critically and are aware know it is human-produced carbon that is creating this change in temperature and storm severity.”

Wagner, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology here at UConn, initially got involved with the environmental Metanoia through his advocating for an environmental literature general education requirement to Connecticut’s senate. 

“There’s no sense in having these events for those who are already green. The point is to challenge people to think by coming up with events, programs and activities that reach out to people across the campus,” Wagner said.

As a part of a semester-long push to raise environmental awareness, a series of six films have been showcased throughout the semester, including “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution,” an investigation of how clean energy can influence communities.

Dr. Doug Tallamy from the University of Delaware also offered a lecture in late March on how insects affect the environment as a part of this semester’s Metanoia.

One of the art exhibits on campus dedicated to the environmental Metanoia, “Earth as Art: Observing Our World From Space,” offers “a unique fusion of art and science,” according to the event’s website.

The exhibit, located on B level of Homer Babbidge Library, features satellite images of earth, showcasing a collection of different geologic patterns, shapes, colors and textures, both natural and manmade, according to the website.

“[The exhibit] shows how earth is art. It is remote images of the planet that shows how beautiful our world is,” Wagner said.    

April 16 there will be a “Tasty-Waste Lunch” on Fairfield Way, in which food that was improperly packaged and normally discarded will be used by UConn Dining Services to create free meals for about 500 people on campus, Wagner said.

“One of the things we came up with that cuts across many different beliefs, political affiliations, statuses and races was food. If you’re going to reach students of all manners at UConn, food is a great common denominator,” Wagner said. “We can’t be using more of the resources than we already are, we need to do a better job of food distribution and not wasting food.

On April 19 Faith Gemmill, a Native American from Alaska, raised in a tribe that focuses on caribou hunting, will be giving a lecture entitled “Extreme Energy Extraction in Alaska: A Climate of Chaos,” Wagner said.

The lecture will focus on how climate change and the Alaskan pipeline are impacting oil reserves in Alaska, Wagner said.

Wagner is hoping this year’s Metanoia will inspire students to be more circumspect about what the consequences are in using resources and motivate them to be a little greener.

“It is necessary that we give something to our children and something to our future, that we don’t damage [the earth] irrevocably,” Wagner said.


Abby Brone is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at abigail.brone@uconn.edu.