Application Process for Incoming Students
Incoming Students Fall 2013
The Environmental Fellows Program welcomes applications from strong students with a keen interest in studying environmental issues from a variety of perspectives, including the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts. Applications are due on February 1, 2013, with interviews to be scheduled shortly thereafter. Applications submitted after that time will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The program steering committee selects Environmental Fellows based on academic performance and extracurricular activities in high school, intellectual curiosity and capabilities, and motivation to explore environmental issues.
It’s easy to apply to the Environmental Fellows Program:
- Complete an application for admission to DePauw.
- Tell us about yourself in a short statement of interest. Explain in 200 - 300 words why you would like to become an Environmental Fellow. The best statements of interest will be as specific as possible about your personal and intellectual interest in the environment, how participation in the program will help you explore those interests, and the strengths and experiences you would bring to the Environmental Fellows Program.
- Write a short critical essay about a specific environmental topic, chosen from the prompts below.
For fullest consideration, submit your Environmental Fellows Program application through the on-line system before February 1, 2013. After that date we will consider applications on a case-by-case basis.
Critical Essay (Choose One)
Please respond to one of the following prompts in an essay of 600 - 750 words. The committee will read your essay with an interest in the way you think about environmental issues and may ask about your essay if you are selected for an interview. You are welcome but not required to consult outside resources as you develop your answer. If you do, be sure to cite them appropriately. We are more interested in your considered response to the question than the breadth of your factual knowledge.
Hybrid electric vehicles and wind turbines are two technologies that are more efficient when created using powerful magnets made from so-called “rare earth” elements such as neodymium and yttrium. Mining of rare earth elements is challenging in part because they are found in combination with naturally occurring radioactive elements such as thorium and uranium. The rare earths must be separated in a refining process that leaves behind waste products laced with the unwanted radioactive elements. Recently, China (now the world’s chief supplier of rare earths for industry) has moved to increase control of the supply of these elements, offering preferential treatment to domestic industries and curtailing exports. Moreover, forecasts of rising demand have led to predictions of severe shortages of rare earths within just a few years. As a result, manufacturers are seeking to re-open old mines and develop new ones, in the US and elsewhere. This has raised concerns about impacts of mining and the refining process. For instance, Malaysian activists are protesting plans to refine ore from a new Australian mine. Industry sources say their waste storage plans are sound and pose no threat to the community.
How do you think the interests in developing energy and transportation technologies such as wind power and hybrid vehicles should be balanced against concerns over the impact of industrial processes supporting those technologies? What additional information would you like to have in thinking about the particular case introduced above?
In June, 2011, The Guardian reported on a British government study on the value of “green spaces” in the United Kingdom:
Looking after the UK's green spaces better is worth at least £30bn a year in health and welfare benefits, according to the first ever full assessment of the UK's natural environment….
The health benefits of living with a view of a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year, in part by providing areas for people to exercise but also because simply looking at nature lifts people's spirits, according to scientific research. Living close to rivers, coasts and wetlands is also a boon – the benefits to residents are about £1.3bn a year.
But these benefits are rarely taken into account when decisions are made about granting permission for building and other development, and in selling off green spaces such as playing fields.
This is the first time the benefits that the UK gains from its natural ecosystems have been quantified and a monetary value put on them. The National Ecosystem Assessment shows that the value of the UK's natural landscape extends far beyond farming.
Bob Watson, chief scientific adviser to Defra and co-author of the report, said the assessment should be used to shape government policy at the national and local level. "Putting a value on these natural services enables them to be incorporated into policy in the same way that other factors are. We can't persist in thinking of these things as free…."
If the UK's ecosystems are properly cared for, they could add an extra £30bn a year to the UK's economy; if they are neglected, the economic cost would be more than £20bn a year, the report found. Inland wetlands, for instance, are worth £1.5bn a year in improving water quality alone, and pollinators such as bees are worth at least £430m a year to agriculture.
Although the report's authors were reluctant to put a single figure on the value of the natural environment, the report shows it runs into hundreds of billions of pounds.
What questions does this news report raise in your mind? What are the pros and cons of setting a monetary value on green spaces? What additional information would you like to have in thinking about these questions?
In Don DeLillo’s novel White Noise, a chemical accident releases a toxic gas cloud that hovers briefly over a panicked town. In the aftermath of the crisis, Jack Gladney, his wife Babette, and their three children listen to conflicting news reports about the effects of contamination. When Jack notices that his daughter Steffie exhibits symptoms only after hearing radio and television reports, he suspects that the reports themselves are causing the symptoms. “I wondered whether her palms had been truly sweaty,” Jack says, “or whether she’d simply imagined a sense of wetness. And was she so open to suggestion that she would develop every symptom as it was announced?” Consider the relation between environmental crisis and media as it unfolds in this scene and in our world. How do media shape our perception of environmental crisis? How are we “open to suggestion” in the context of environmental discourse and debates? What problems or questions does this raise about the ways we receive, understand, and respond to information about the environment?
The photographic mosaics in Chris Jordan’s Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait offer a striking representation of the statistics of mass consumption and waste. In Jordan’s own words: “This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities we each play as individuals in a collective that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.” View the mosaics in Running the Numbers and Running the Numbers II. Choose one mosaic, and comment on the relation between the smaller photographs and the larger image they comprise. In the image you have chosen, how does the correspondence between the near and the far, the one and the many, prompt us to reconsider individual responsibility in consumer society?