Scary Excitement of Third Week

Second week has come to a close and third week starts up tomorrow… Scary? Exciting? Both! We are more than half way through the block – we have leaned so much yet still have so much to learn! At this point in any block, you are fully submerged in the material of your course yet haven’t been exposed to what may be the most exciting part of it. You have done what seems to be loads of work and (try to) remain hopeful and excited for all the new material that has yet to come!

 

My first three blocks consisted of my double block FYE Freedom and Authority followed by Intro to Poetry. While both of these were highly reading and writing intensive classes, biophysics has proven to expose my rusty math and science skills. Being thrown back into a way of thinking and problem solving I haven’t practiced in over 6 months has been both terrifying and exhilarating. Though, most of the terror existed only in the first day or two of biophysics and was quickly replaced with excitement.

 

Biophysics, although easily perceived as an advanced science course, has proven to be ideal for both exposing and treating and my rusty math and science skills. The course has no required prerequisites, therefore all the basic physics formulas and concepts are taught as part of the course. Since this is my first blog post and it’s pretty late in the block, I will summarize some of the main topics we have covered thus far here:

 

We have covered many physics tools and have applied them to several different biological problem sets. We started with simple kinematic equations and applied them to both pendulums and projectiles. We explored how a human leg can behave more or less like a simple pendulum and from there we could solve for a persons walking speed based on the same variables. We even compared these findings to what they would be on the moon ! This helped us better understand how specific variables behave within a formula while also providing us with some cool knowledge about what walking ad jumping would be like on the moon! We then transitioned from kinematics to exploring forces and Newton’s three laws. We used forces (along with previous knowledge of kinematics) to calculate heights of jumps and how they varied from problems which involved running and jumping together. After this, we learned about energy – my personal favorite physics concept/tool! We explored many different types of energy and was able to translate them to nearly every concept covered previously. We then moved from learning the biophysics of physical actions one has direct control over and started to explore the physics of fluids and the circulatory system. The circulatory system proved to be extremely fascinating to learn about, not only because it is what literally keeps us alive, but because it is something we are unconscious of in every day life. We learned about density, pressure, flow rate, viscosity, and many more important concepts related to the movement and behavior of fluid. Exploring the incredible complexity of just one system within our body makes all the duties our bodies do for us seem quite magical. This pretty much sums up what we have covered up until Friday.

 

Friday’s class introduced probably the most complex idea we’ve looked at thus far in the class. We had a guest speaker, Phoebe Lostroh (a professor from the molecular biology department), come in and discuss what proteins are, how they are made, their structure, function, and essentially their importance to life of earth. This provided the class with a baseline of knowledge which would then help us to fully understand central dogma and eventually Florence microscopy. We covered many things which are essential to understanding florescence microscopy which I will not bore you with… but its all seriously cool stuff – if you don’t know anything about it, I suggest looking into it!

 

This block started out pretty light while most the physics and applications were review to me. But, fear not, it certainly picked up. This last week especially has proven to challenge me the most. I feel the “challenge” I am referring to is mainly rooted in the conceptual applications and not so much the physics knowledge. As we use different biological applications, we naturally learn things about those specific subjects which may be (and have proven to be this last week to me) completely new. That is what has made this class challenging and interesting at the same time! What could be better than to try to understand how living things work, move, and interact through exploring the physics behind them?!

 

I am looking forward to the last full week of biophysics and will be updating you along the way!

A Giant Leap for Womankind

We’re moving from two dimensions to three this week, from painting to sculpture! During the Renaissance, sculptures were a way to influence public perceptions and identity- a form of political propaganda. The sculpture that I fell most in love with is the Juno Fountain, by Bartolomeo Ammannati. The fountain was commissioned by Cosimo I of the Medici family in 1556. If you haven’t heard of the Medici, (or have heard of them a million times but don’t actually know what they were famous for), here’s a refresher. The Medici family basically invented money and banking. Before the Medici, bartering was the standard of trade, but the Medici realized that one way to make money really fast is to just make the money. The family’s riches gave them power and many Medici served in Florentine government.

Cosimo I was Duke of Florence at the time, and commissioned the fountain when he was able to connect Florence with a new water source. Though the fountain was intended to be the centerpiece of the Great Council Hall, it was never installed there; Cosimo I came into possession of a Michelangelo statue, and replaced the Juno Fountain with it. Newly homeless, the Juno Fountain was moved temporarily the royal gardens, before it’s component parts were (tragically) scattered around the park. It wasn’t until recently that the pieces of the fountain were reassembled at the Bargello Museum in Florence. To quote Peaches and Herb, “Reunited and it feels so good!”

I love this fountain because it so appropriately addresses the achievement it commemorates. The entire fountain is centered around the idea of the water cycle as it was understood by Aristotle. Aristotle believed that water was created from a combination of the elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Fittingly, the characters depicted in this fountain have allegorical significance, with each representing a natural element.

On top of the fountain, sits Juno, protector of the state, with a tambourine in her hand. The clap of her tambourine signifies thunder and lighting, indicating that the gods could strike down any misbehaving mortals. Juno sits atop a stone rainbow, the path of connection between heaven and earth. Beneath the rainbow, lie two bodies of water, personified as a man and a woman. On the left, is Arno, the river that still provides water to the city of Florence. On the right, is Parnassus, the spring that famously arose from  Mt. Helicon, providing poetic inspiration to all who drank from her waters.

Though each of these characters have their charm, the woman in the center of the fountain, Ceres (Roman goddess of Earth and agriculture), is the clear star of the show. Ceres stands with her hands on her breasts, squeezing the fountain water from them. Ironically, fountains that depict a urinating man are very common, yet fountains where women produce water from their breasts are rare. Ceres’ body shape is concave, with her shoulders rounded forward, as she seems to push the water out from within her. Her right cheek is turned to the viewer, an indication of authority and power. With her ocularis and zygomaticus muscles slightly contracted, she appears to be smiling softly, yet knowingly down at us.

Ceres is completely naked, and her body looks more feminine than most Renaissance statues. Because the Catholic Church was still very influential at the time, females were not allowed to pose nude for artists. As a result, early female nudes looked like female heads atop hulking male bodies. Ceres however, is distinctly female, with rounded features and an hourglass shape. Though females nudes existed before the Juno Fountain, women were depicted as sexual objects of the male gaze. In this piece however, Ceres’ comfort with touching her own body, in a totally non-sexual way, implies agency and self-ownership. Her naturalness suggests lack of self-consciousness and a confidence that is striking even in modern day.

Ceres also represents the feminine power to give and sustain life (by giving water in this sculpture, and by giving birth in real life). The idea of female autonomy, much less feminine power, was unheard of in the Renaissance; yet Ceres seems to sidestep cultural norms.This work may seem like a small step for women, but it’s a giant leap for mankind — or should I say womankind. Kudos to you, Ammannati.

Beyond the Face

Ciao!

Artwork in this city is starting to feel much more interconnected than I had realized before.

Quinn’s last blog post described the process of VTS, or Visual Thinking Strategies, which involve slowing down and observing before making judgments or coming to conclusions. I feel that by constantly reminding myself to practice VTS while observing art in our museums, I am beginning to see a bigger picture emerge.

This is the pattern I usually find within the block plan, where the first week feels chaotic and scattered, but by the second week and especially the third, things are coming together in a tangible way. As material from the class and from our individual work and projects come together, the larger themes of the class begin to make sense.

Last week, we were discussing the intricacies of the human facial musculature alongside the evolutionary advantages of various expressions in humans and animals. These seemed like weird concepts to talk about in a class that places so much weight on art, but this week we have been exploring differing methods that renaissance painters and sculptors used to convey emotion. Suddenly, the importance of a facial expression started to seem like it mattered greatly for a work of art. This may seem obvious, but we continued to really ask how emotion can be conveyed, and it appears more nuanced than I first thought. Yes, the face is important in paintings, but emotion is so much more than that.

To demonstrate this idea, we played a little game in class. In the first round, somebody would get up in front of the class and, using just their face, try to convey a complex emotion, such as awe or guilt. Everyone wrote down a guess, and the next person went up. In the second round, the same “actor” was allowed to use their whole bodies and some simple motions, then everybody guessed again. In almost every single case, people got the emotion wrong in the first round and right in the second. An emotional expression goes so far beyond just the face.

Additionally, the face might be quite misleading. Furrowed brows, a wrinkled nose, and an open mouth could be a face of extreme excitement and celebration or burning anger, depending on the context. Combining salient, “real-world” examples like the game from class with the strategies of VTS has given me a much deeper appreciation for what is going on in any given painting or sculpture. Yes, the man is sad, but how do you know that? Is it the tear on his face? Is it his body language, showing him crumple in despair? Is it due to what the people around him are doing to him? It is all these things, and simply stopping artistic analysis at “the man is sad” limits not only our understanding of what is really going on in the depicted scene, but also our appreciation for the depth of the art and the immense talent of the artist.

To be an artist is to truly understand human expressions in a way that most people cannot even articulate. It is to understand the human form in a very “meta” way, and to be able to move past something as simple as a facial expression.

Venus is More than a Women’s Razor Brand

I’m starting to understand why people are so into this art! I’ve never been much of an “art museum person.” I’ve always felt that museums center on art history, and I’m more interested in the story the work tells. Yet this class is allowing me to appreciate museums anew; I’m learning to understand the story each piece tells on my own, without reading the wall text beside it.

This week we have been practicing Visual Thinking Strategies, or VTS. VTS  is a way of looking at art that requires viewers to pause, and consider the individual elements of the work. It asks viewers to look slowly, lengthening the time between observation and conclusion. Though this process sounds simple, it is really challenging. As someone who likes to know — to think in facts rather than in probabilities and ideas — hovering in this uncertainty is really difficult for me.

I am good at making quick judgements. I walk down the street and I know: “That is the Duomo,” “That woman looks cold,” “That gelato smells delicious.” But what happens when what I am observing is less clear-cut?

The ease with which we categorize and sort stimuli is usually very useful; however, it can also cause us to jump to conclusions before fully understanding what we are seeing. Through VTS, I am learning to suspend my judgements for a little longer each day, collecting the facts that I need to support my assertions before I make them.

In VTS, when viewers find themselves jumping to conclusions, they must explain how they know what they know. For example, consider Botticelli’s famous “The Birth of Venus.” You have probably seen this piece before, but just take a second to really look at it. What do you see? There are an unlimited number of  aspects of the painting that you could focus on, but for the purpose of this analysis, focus on the woman in the center of the piece, Venus.

A viewer might observe, “Venus looks like a modest woman.” But in VTS, the viewer would then have to explain their observation: “Venus is using her hands and hair to cover her naked body. She is also averting her gaze, looking down and to the left, and tucking her chin in towards her body, possibly indicating shyness. A character at the right of the frame is offering Venus a cloak with which to cover herself. These components lead me to believe that Venus is a modest character in this painting.”

VTS provided me with a framework through which I am able to slow down and consider the details of the work, rather than blindly forming an opinion at a glance. Instead of just seeing the art, I am savoring it.

I am trying to extend my understanding of VTS to other areas of my life, lengthening the time between my observations and conclusions, but I’m still a work in progress. It turns out it’s a lot easier to change the way I see art than the way I see the world. But now that I recognize the information to be gleaned from the details, I know that slowing down to attend to them is worthwhile.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said “ God is in the details;” I’m starting to  appreciate how right he was.

Thoughts on Gazing

Gazing: Gender, Bodies, Faces, and Emotions

Well, we just finished week one of our class here in Florence. I’ve been really enjoying it, partly because the curriculum involves so many cultural immersion experiences, but also because the discussions we have been having in class have proven to be remarkably thought provoking. So far in class we have covered topics varying from the basic principles of what constitutes art to the intricate complexities of human facial muscles used in emotional expression. We have drawn from a wide range of topics, but after a full week of class and museum visits, I think I am beginning to weave everything together to understand the overarching themes of the class.

One big theme has been the idea of physical closeness with objects that feel significant. On the first day of class, we discussed why it feels so much less impactful to simply look at a picture of a piece of art, or for that matter, a replication of a famous work. Why is it that seeing a photo someone took of The David feels so underwhelming, but being in its presence can be a profoundly emotional experience? One student mentioned how the relationship we might have with a replica of the statue will make us focus on the aspects of the art itself, whereas being in the presence of the original gives us a relationship with the artist. “He really actually touched this thing” is an intense sentiment to experience. We have learned about the artist, the context, and the significance of the piece, but now we are seeing the culmination of all of those factors in the real artwork.

This theme was continued when we visited the Medici Chapel in Florence, where we looked at religious relics. A relic can be either a body part of a deceased saint or something that a divine figure has touched, such as a piece of their clothing. People would travel thousands of miles on pilgrimages to visit churches all over Europe that had (or perhaps simply claimed to have) relics of various patron saints. The concept of keeping a body part feels foreign and bizarre to our modern-day mentality, but I think it involves the same mentality of traveling across the world to see The David or the Mona Lisa. Being in the physical presence of an item, without even having to touch it, gives us a remarkably deep connection with an artist or a saint.

These somewhat vague themes about art and its significance were a strong contrast to some of the hard psychological science classes I have been in for most of the semester. That changed when we got to the Charles Darwin readings. In class, we spent a long time breaking down the intricacies of human facial muscles, the various expressions of emotions, and the adaptive nature of human expressiveness. It was fascinating hearing the detailed scientific way he described something as commonplace as a smile; really digging deep into what it is that makes humans do what they do so easily and unconsciously was enlightening. This class is a unique combination of history, art, and science. It feels like the true goal of a liberal arts education, integrating knowledge from disparate fields to uncover new truths about ourselves. Plus, the added benefit of the block plan means we can just focus on this class for one month while being “on location” here in Italy. This feels like a true CC experience that is hard to get anywhere else.

 

A Chance Encounter with The David

Today marks the beginning of an adventure for me, and like all true adventures, it is equally exhilarating and terrifying. Though I am a senior, and feel like I’m starting to get the hang of psych classes, this one is a little intimidating. I signed up for “Gazing” because I think Tomi-Ann is a really bright woman, and was happy to take any class she was excited about. But in truth, I know very little about the actual subject matter of the class. In my defense, it’s a big mix of things: emotion, art history, and gender studies. I know a little about emotion, although I haven’t taken that psych class yet (stay tuned for 5th block), but I know almost nothing about gender studies or art. A lot of this will be new to me, but I’m going to do my best to convey what I’ve learned.

Today was our first day of class, and I’m already in awe. We visited Michelangelo’s statue of David, which you have probably seen if you have ever looked at any art before. I had seen David many times; from the cover of my textbook to funny cooking aprons- David is all over the place. But I have to say that seeing him in person felt very different. It was almost like meeting a celebrity. Larger than life, and beneath a bright skylight, David truly commands attention.

The statue itself is at the end of a long corridor, lined with other Michelangelo statues, called The Captives. These tortured-looking figures emerge from the stone, their incomplete figures seeming tethered back. Rock melts from their extremities and crushes down on their heads, forcing the statues into strained and contorted poses. There is some debate as to whether the statues are intentionally unfinished or not. Michelangelo used to say that in carving statues, he was simply carving out figures that existed independently in the stone, freeing them. It is possible that The Captives are meant to depict the process of the statues escaping.

In sharp contrast to The Captives, David is very much complete. Every detail of his body is carefully etched out, from the curls in his hair to the veins beneath his skin. From afar, David looks very relaxed, leaning casually to the right, and gazing over his left shoulder with calm self-assuredness. We guessed that the statue represents David just after he slew Goliath.

Yet up close, the statue adopts a new meaning. David’s expression is strained, his brow furrowed. All of David’s muscles are tensed, as he rocks nervously between feet. His soft gaze seems suddenly intense and pensive, as though he is planning a way to beat the giant. Though the statue is physically colossal, David looks small and afraid.

Seeing The David led us to a discussion about what is so special about seeing the “real David” as opposed to pictures on the internet, or even a life-sized replica. In the same way seeing a rainbow or the totality of an eclipse inspires, seeing art in it’s natural place in a museum inspires the viewer to connect with a miracle. We might picture Michelangelo possessed by inspiration as he chipped away at the marble, really feeling the sweat collect on his brow and his arms become weak with the effort. We might wonder what story Michelangelo wanted to convey, and why he chose to depict David as he did. In a museum setting, the statue looks so grand, and demands the attention it deserves. Yet in museums, art can easily become mystified by scholars, over-explained by experts so that “common people” (like me) cannot have a chance to interpret the work on their own. Gazing upon The David outside of a museum (looking at a photo of the statue or replica), begs the viewer to connect with the piece of artwork instead of the artist. Because viewers outside of the museum are given less historical information about the piece, they have to make their own stories to explain the work. Both contexts are valuable, but for totally separate reasons. The style of seeing is shaped by the context. I am struck by the visceral feelings it inspires and the impacts it leaves.

The Road Forward

After two full weeks of exploring the COP23 in Bonn, I can say that I learned a lot from leaders in various categories of climate action. It was a great opportunity to observe a convention on such a scale. As I make my way back to the United States, I want to share some of the biggest things that resonated with me:

1. There is still a lot of work to be done. There is a clear difference in opinion on a lot of matters. I saw this through arguments after talks, protests during speeches, and a conversation I had with a man from Iran. One day on my way to Bonn, I had to abruptly get off one train and wait for a connecting train. Shortly after, a man approached me and asked if we were still going the right way to the COP23. This sparked a conversation on energy and finding a balance between fossil fuels and renewables. He explained that he was from Iran, worked in the energy sector and was heading to the convention to negotiate for fossil fuels – makes sense given the Middle East’s dependence on oil and natural gases. The most interesting part of my conversation with this stranger is that he kept mentioning the importance of “finding a balance” between fossil fuels and renewables. I asked him how he thought we could achieve that and he immediately responded with, “Well what do you think?” The fact that he didn’t have a clear answer indicated that there is a lot of work to be done in order to achieve ambitious climate goals.

2. The US is ‘Still In’ in a big way. The US made a huge splash in the conference with the US Climate Action Center and hosted over 30 events including business leaders, governors, and senators. In light of current climate politics, it was an impressive display of non-federal commitment. Leaders such as Michael Bloomberg and Jerry Brown made a promise to continue funding initiatives to achieve Paris Agreement goals.

3. US businesses play a leadership role in sustainability. Large corporations such as Microsoft, Mars Inc. and Walmart are still committed to their own targets. Last Friday a panel of sustainability officers from the aforementioned companies described their sustainability efforts. Without going into too much detail, Walmart is committed to a 100% renewable energy future and currently sits at 26% renewables with a 2025 goal of 50% renewables. Similarly, Mars Inc. aims to decarbonize factories and be net zero by 2040 in a large part through changing the way transactions occur in the supply chain. Corporations must continue to other businesses and organizations.

Thanks to Mark Smith and Colorado College for an unforgettable journey filled with learning and networking.

Signing off,

Sam Sheridan ’18

Pictured above: Senator Ben Cardin and Sheldon Whitehouse sharing that the US is still committed.  

Das Ende (The End!)

Wow wow wow! What a block it has been! I can’t believe it is over, and I know it will take a lot more than the flight home to process everything that has happened. I am writing from the comfort of my hostel bed, which I will say goodbye to in the morning, as one of the last of our cohort to depart. I will take this opportunity to begin the process of reflection.

I’m not entirely sure how to structure this post, and I would like to keep it relatively concise, so I will use a skill that my 2.5 years at CC have engrained in me: reflection via rose, bud and thorn.

Rose: This one is easy: everything. If you just rolled your eyes, that’s fine, but I mean it. The opportunity that we had to be here, as a bunch of under-grad American students from a small liberal arts college, has no comparison. We had the opportunity to meet Jeff Seabright, Chief Sustainability Officer at Unilever, Katherine Neebe (’97), Chief Sustainability officer at Walmart, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the President of COP-20, among others. We had coffee and conversation with change makers, movers and shakers from all corners of the world. That is pretty neat, if you ask me. To be in the presence of these incredible people, in the place where the magic happens, so to speak, has been an unparalleled opportunity. Just the chance to attend COP-23 is a major rose all by itself.

Bud: As my classmate Kelly said in her most recent post: once you know and understand the causes and impacts of climate change, you can never un-know them. While I feel that I have always been well informed about environmental issues and I was raised in a household adamant about turning off the lights upon leaving rooms, composting and recycling (thanks, family!) this block and the COP has opened my eyes to a world of complexities and nuance that I didn’t know existed in the realm of climate change. I have heard personal narratives from corporate executives, indigenous leaders, mothers, fathers, students and countless others from all over the world. Returning to Colorado and to CC, I am excited to bring with me the passion, the energy, the dedication that formed the foundation for this conference. My bud is fairly simple: the opportunity to take everything we have experienced here back home as a souvenir and to build on this incredible experience as a foundation of knowledge and action.

Thorn: This one is a little bit harder. Clearing my rose-colored (pun kind-of intended), post-COP glasses, the thorn that stands out is the thick bureaucracy and politically-driven cloud that surrounded the conference. Like Katherine said in her most recent post, the negotiations frequently get hung up on single clauses and even individual words. The dissonance between debating relatively inconsequential verb tenses and the very real effects of climate change that are affecting very real human lives is hard to ignore. As students attending an American college, we know that politics is in everything these days. No issue seems to be above partisanship, and this was ever present at COP-23. I found it frustrating to sit in meetings and hear a story about a mom who lost her home to freak flooding in one minute, and the next minute hear that an organization dedicated to helping this mom couldn’t get funding because some political body couldn’t get a bill passed. The thorn on my rose of the COP is the frustratingly slow-moving, albeit potentially inextricable, bureaucratic process of change.

I have many more roses, buds and thorns, but this is a blog and not my memoir, so I will end there. This has been a truly once in a lifetime experience and something I will carry with me forever. Thank you to Mark Smith, Colorado College, our individual sponsors who got us badges, all the people who took time out of their schedules to meet with us, and to everyone who made COP-23 and this block possible.

Signing off, with endless amounts of gratitude,

Anna Brent (’19)

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last two weeks as a P.S.:

Here is our very own Emily Abbott (’19) meeting Frank Bainimarama, COP-23 President!

Another MAJOR rose: all the free food!!!!

 

Al Gore Speaking! Woohoo!

Katherine Kerr (’18), Jack Mosley (’18) and I, with the actual globe in our hands (well, in the air, but it was previously in our hands).

Bula and Auf Wiedersehen

Happy fall break! The past two weeks went by super quickly, and it’s hard to believe that it’s already block break! Yesterday I spent the whole day at the US Climate Action Center for the US Business Showcase, a full-day event that brought together corporate leaders from many iconic U.S. brands to explore their efforts to help decarbonize the American economy. We heard from sustainability executives from Mars Inc., Citibank, Microsoft, Walmart (CC alumna Katherine Neebe) and many other companies. At the conclusion of the Showcase, we had our final class gathering at the evening reception. It was great to be able to network and learn from CC parents and alumni and hear from our classmates about their favorite parts of COP23. Some of the highlights from the class were seeing insightful panels, hearing new perspectives, participating in protests, and seeing celebrities.

Today, everyone in the class went separate directions. Some returned home for Thanksgiving, while others stayed in Europe to travel for the rest of fall break. I spent the day exploring Bonn and Cologne, seeing things that I hadn’t had the time for previously. I went to the Kunstmuseum, a modern art museum located just a block away from the Bula Zone. The museum had an extensive collection of Rhenish Expressionism and post-war German art, as well as a fascinating contemporary exhibition. I also walked through Rheinaue Park which surrounds the COP23 venue. The park is full of art and educational exhibits about various environmental issues.

A contemporary exhibit at Kunstmuseum Bonn

Some environmental art pieces in the park.

Tomorrow my classmate Kelly Nguyen and I will travel to Berlin to continue studying environmental economics through a slightly different lens. With support from the Keller Family Venture Grant, we are traveling to Berlin, Amsterdam, and Brussels to explore the rise of “ecopreneurship,” environmental entrepreneurship, in western Europe. With the base of knowledge we have acquired at COP23 about types of supportive regulation, mechanisms of capital investment, and innovative business models, we are excited to continue to explore this important issue. Of course I’ll need a couple days to catch up on sleep first though!

It’s been an incredible 2 weeks at COP23 thanks to our dedicated, caring, well-connected professor who has helped us to make the most of this unique experience. On behalf of EC385, I’d like to thank Mark Smith for supporting us and making this experience possible.

Bula & Auf Wiedersehen!

Cole S. ‘20

The Highlight Reel

I am currently sitting on a train back to Frankfurt, not entirely sure how to begin to process the last week and a half.  After countless brötchen (little bread rolls), meetings, and conversations with people from around the world I leave feeling filled, yes both intellectually and physically from the entirely bread and cheese based diet I have adopted for the past week. 

Here are some highlights!

#1 As I mentioned in my previous post, by some mistake I was promoted to head of the organization that had generously accredited me a pass into the side events. However, this promotion also allowed me access into the Bula Zone AKA the zone where the negotiations take place.  While I couldn’t get into very many events I was able to sit in on a revision session of Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, which deals with mitigation. In all honestly, I understood very little of the paragraphs that were being reviewed, but I was able to observe the negations process in all its glory and frustration.  They aren’t kidding when they say that an hour can be spent discussing whether or not to change one word to essentially its synonym.  As tedious as the negotiation was it was fascinating to get a look into how intergovernmental relationships and decisions unfold. If you have every participated in model united nations, it is EXACTLY like that, but real life.

#2 I loved walking through the conference, or from one building to another, or sitting on the train next to delegates from ALL over the world. It was not uncommon to engage in a conversation only at the end to find out that they were they head delegate from some country. It was humbling and inspiring to be amongst the world’s leaders on climate change, and not just in the same building, but conversing with them.

#3 I was fortunate enough to spend the day shadowing Katherine Neebe ’97 the Director of Sustainability, Stakeholder Engagement for Walmart. The day started with a meeting with Mars discussing scope 3 (emissions that are not directly owned by a company, but part of the supply chain) counting methods.  Katherine spoke about Walmart’s gigaton project, which is a scope 3 emissions target, leading the way for large corporations.  The day included another panel and prep for more panels the next day. The best part of the day, were the side conversations that I was able to witness. They ranged from people trying to get involved with Walmart’s efforts, to old colleagues trying to support each other’s new projects. And while many of the people were coming from large corporations, the issues they were talking about were so grounded, real, and pertinent.  The issues on the table have every day impact on people, society, and the environment and these big countries see their magnitude as an platform to make large scale change. The day ended with a dinner, in which the conversation was passionate and genuine about how I can best bring what I have learned at the conference back to the CC campus, but more on that later…

^This is a photo with the entire group and three Colorado College Alums that were also attending the conference, Matt Banks (WWF), Katherine Neebe (Walmart), Lucy Kessler (Yale Grad Student).

It’s been an incredible trip! Thank you to everyone that made it possible and major shout out to Herr Doktor Professor!