Troy Abel, associate professor of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University, will present “Ecotopia’s Prism – Five Seasons in Costa Rica’s Ecology, Economy, and Culture” at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Feb.15 in Communications Facility 110.
The event is free, open to the public and is part of Western’s Turning Points Faculty Speaker Series, which celebrates and shares the wealth of knowledge and talent on Western’s campus.
Drawing on his research collaborations over the past five years with Western students, faculty and Costa Rican’s conserving tropical rainforests, Abel will share his insights on ecological citizenship, political biogeography, and immersions in some of the most biologically intense places on the planet. He believes that while Costa Rica’s conservation of biodiversity began in their protected areas and national parks, it will be finished outside of them.
Costa Rica is translated as rich coast, a name originating from Spanish conquistadors who mistakenly thought the land was filled with gold. Many now recognize that Costa Rica’s riches are more green than gold with more than 4 percent of the world’s estimated biodiversity. Costa Rica has universal health care, a longer life expectancy than the U.S., and no military. Only by expanding our attention to all of these facets can one begin to see “Ecotopia’s Prism,” how Costa Rica’s intersections of ecology, economy, and culture foster and inhibit sustainability.
Abel received a doctorate in Public Policy from George Mason University and is an associate professor in Western’s Department of Environmental Studies. He is also program director of Huxley College of the Environment’s Annual Rainforest Immersion and Conservation Action (RICA) study abroad initiative in Costa Rica. Abel’s scholarship focuses on the environmental governance challenge of informing policy with sophisticated social and ecological science while simultaneously increasing transparency and participation in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental and conservation policies. He has explored why environmental problems and solutions are often framed in only technical or democratic prisms and how this hinders ecological governance. Abel argues that society needs a better integration of science and governance. The convergence and resolution of these rationalizing and democratizing impulses is a prominent feature of Abel’s research programs on environmental justice, environmental information disclosure, and the conservation of biodiversity.