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Jul 10 / Julia Sosin

Conflict Resolution, Air Quality / KAYAKING!

We have been learning a lot at RISEUP lately, and even having some fun.

Two weeks ago, our third workshop kicked off with a presentation by Amanda Rosales, the Acting Director of Graduate Admissions here at WSU, on graduate certificates and degrees. Ms. Rosales stressed that selecting what type of program to pursue is extremely individual, and that it is important not only to think of what you hope to gain from a program, but what you can contribute, as well.

A fantastic introduction to Conflict Resolution was given by Barbara Jones, the Community Dispute Resolution Specialist with the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies. Conflicts can come in many forms, she told us – recognized, unrecognized, manufactured – and can be linked to many origins. Ms. Jones touched upon how considering the type and source of a specific conflict can help us better understand and predict which resolution style may be most effective. While RISEUP workshop participants may hope for collaborative resolutions in our lives, it is no surprise that many real-world tension is negotiated through accommodation, compromise, or competition. I’d like to learn more specifically about conflict mapping, a tool for understanding conflicts, elaborated on by Paul Wehr here. A piece of wisdom that Ms. Jones left us with is that in all conflicts, “needs” should take priority over “interests.”

One of the RISEUP mentors, Dr. Larry Lemke of WSU’s Geology Department, presented on a study of air quality in the Detroit-Windsor region that he participated in called “Geospatial Determinants of Health Outcomes Consortium” (or, the GeoDHOC). This study was not only interdisciplinary in nature – initially involving air sampling, environmental modeling and epidemiology – but focused on an environmental justice issue across an international border. The main finding of the preliminary study was a significant correlation between high asthma event rates in both cities and high levels of pollutants such as VOC’s, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Some complexities involved with such an ambitious study included needing sampling sites at smaller scales, and the barriers to accessing medical record data at different health institutions. More info on the GeoDHOC paper here.


What could be a better way than to break up literature review, lab work, sampling trips, conference calls, than to spend some time exploring our beautiful local environment? Last Wednesday, the RISEUP interns, staff, a mentor and guest traveled out to Belle Isle to experience park from the surface water. Thanks to Chris, Danielle and Larry from Riverside Kayak Connection, we were outfitted with neat kayaks, engaged in some team-building games, and led on a very cool tour of the northeast side. We paddled past the Yacht Club, the fishing pier, the intake for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Dept.’s drinking water, with a visit to the new fish habitat in the renovated Blue Heron Lagoon, and back up the Detroit River, to see the public beach and the Historic Boat Club. The weather could not have been more serene. Pictures below.

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Happy summer and thoughtful research!


–          Julia, Coordinator