Water issues — York’s FES talks to high school students

More than 150 students from seven high schools in the Greater Toronto Area heard about water issues from multiple points of view at a conference on water and globalization hosted late last week by York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies. Here are the highlights of the conference in an article written by Max Brem, FES’s director of the Office of External Relations:

In his keynote lecture entitled “Unbottling Water: A Global Perspective”, Professor Peter Timmerman, MES program coordinator, provided a comprehensive overview of the role of water and its importance to sustaining life on the planet. He touched on water’s role in mythology and religion and on global water issues, and unmasked some of the facts behind the everyday consumption of bottled water. During the lecture, he had student volunteers take part in a taste test of commercial bottled water and tap water.

Timmerman teaches the popular ENVS 1000 course, “Introduction to Environmental Studies” in the Bachelor in Environmental Studies program.

FES Dean David Morley said the conference gave the visiting high school students a taste of the way topics are covered in the Faculty’s interdisciplinary BES degree program. The students also heard a BES recruitment presentation.

Students were chosen for the conference because they are studying environmental issues and may be interested in taking this further at a post-secondary level. In addition to attending the keynote talk, students chose from among nine workshops conducted by FES faculty members. The topics were:

• Emerging Politics of Water in the Greater Toronto Area

• Urban Rivers

• Impacts of Global Warming on Our Water Resources: Case Studies of Mount Kilimanjaro and Coral Reef Fisheries

• Using Geographic Information Systems to Support Community-based Surface Water Quality Monitoring

• Whales and Conflicts in International Fishing and Endangered Whale Species

• Water and Culture

• Renewable Energy & the Role of Ontario’s Small Hydro Power Resource Base

• The Importance of Monitoring the Quality of Ontario’s Lakes and Rivers

• Environmental Planning, Assessment and Management Related to Water