Maryville College participates in ‘Focus the Nation’ event

This week, Maryville College will be one of thousands of institutions across the United States hosting events, discussions and displays in conjunction with “Focus the Nation,” a national teach-in focused on environmental issues, especially those stemming from global warming.

The events, most of which are free and open to the public, are planned for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

“For these days, several of our professors have signed on to teach students how global warming affects their fields of study,” stated Donna Schmidt, junior political science major and co-chair of the College’s Focus the Nation committee. “Decisions that are ours to make today - to stabilize global warming pollution and invest in clean-energy solutions - will have a profound impact not only on our lives and the lives of our children, but indeed for every human being who will ever walk the face of the planet from now until the end of time.

“At this moment, we owe our young people one day of focused discussion about global warming solutions for America,” she continued.

Thursday events

With funding from the College’s Student Government Association, the Focus the Nation committee has purchased 300 energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs and will give one to every student, faculty and staff member who hands over an incandescent bulb in exchange. The light bulb exchange is scheduled for noon until 1 p.m., Jan. 31, in the lobby of Pearsons Hall.

A hybrid electric shuttle van, produced by Azure Dynamics, will be parked behind Fayerweather Hall from noon until 1:30 p.m., and campus and community members are invited to stop by to learn more about the technology behind the vehicle. The van will be in Blount County on the invitation of the Cades Cove Shuttle Task Force, which is working to implement a pilot voluntary shuttle system that will provide a unique experience to park visitors while protecting and highlighting the natural and cultural resources of Cades Cove.

At 3:45 p.m. in Lawson Auditorium, Kelley Segars of Smart Trips will make a presentation on alternatives to driving alone and how carpooling, using mass transit, walking and bicycling saves energy and helps the air and planet. At 3:30 p.m., just prior to Segars’ presentation, students are encouraged to sign up for a prize given by smart Trips; the winner’s name will be announced at the presentation.

At 4 p.m., Dr. Richard Weinstein, biology professor at the University of Tennessee and member of Al Gore’s “Climate Project,” will lead a presentation on global climate change in Lawson Auditorium. His presentation is expected to use current science to update the audience on how the planet is changing and what needs to be done immediately.

A movie, “Global Warming: The Signs and the Science” will follow Weinstein’s lecture, starting at 6:30 p.m. in Lawson Auditorium.

Friday events

Focus the National educational events continue on Feb. 1. At 2:30 p.m., in Lawson Auditorium of Fayerweather Hall, Dr. Dan Klingensmith, associate professor of history, will give a lecture on the international dimensions of carbon emission, specifically why China and India have become such large producers of greenhouse gases and how that affects the environment on a global scale.

Following Klingensmith’s lecture, winners of an essay contest open to first-year students enrolled in FRS130: Perspectives on the Environment will be announced.

The film “A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash,” shown at 6:30 p.m. in Lawson Auditorium, will bring the College’s Focus the Nation events to an end.

For more information on Maryville College’s participation in Focus the Nation, contact Dr. Mark O’Gorman, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the College’s environmental studies major, at 865.981.8048 or

For more information on the nationwide initiative, visit

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