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Albatross Project Brings Sustainability into Focus at Fisher

September 21, 2018

St. John Fisher College will host a College-wide, two-day initiative, The Albatross Project, focused on sustainability on Tuesday, Oct. 9 and Wednesday, Oct. 10.

A black footed albatross.

Inspired by the documentary film, “Albatross,” the initiative includes a series of events and activities that seek to explore the economic, social, cultural, political, and environmental dimensions of sustainability through collaborative teaching sessions, film screenings, a sustainability fair, public panels, and student projects.

The film uncovers the devastating effects pollution has on the albatross population of North Pacific Ocean, showing thousands of horrifying photographs of dead birds, their bodies filled with plastic. Moved by the film, a group of professors at the College, led by Drs. Linda MacCammon (Religious Studies Department), Michael Boller (Biology Department and Center for Sustainability), and Jason Berman (Management Department), joined together to create an event that would bring these issues to the forefront in a unified, cross-disciplinary way.

“’Albatross’ is a powerful film that’s a metaphor for our current environmental crisis and a warning to us all,” said MacCammon. “I can’t think of a better way to live Fisher’s mission than to bring faculty, staff, students, and members of the Rochester community together for two days to explore the breadth and depth of our environmental crisis and think about what we can do to live more sustainably. For me, there’s nothing more important.”

Nearly two dozen faculty members will incorporate issues of sustainability into their courses, with topics including the economics of conservation, the legacy of Henry David Thoreau and the Albatross Puppet Show, sustainable approaches to the refugee and immigration crisis, ethical and sustainable use of artificial intelligence and robotics, and sustainability reporting and assurance issues related to accounting, among many others.

In addition to the classroom sessions, the College is planning panel discussions and film screenings around environmental topics. Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.

Select events include:


Event: Is Your Coffee Sustainable?
9:30 to 10:30 a.m., in Golisano Gateway Midlevel
Enjoy a cup of fair-trade, sustainable coffee with Dr. Mike Boller and learn about brands and companies who excel at offering sustainable cups of joe.

Film Screening: “Albatross”
10:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in Basil 135

Event: Fisher Goes Green Fair
12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Cleary Family Auditorium
Learn about both on-campus and community efforts to address sustainability. Tables from campus groups, local non-profits, and businesses will highlight what is happening and what can be done.

Film Screening: “Biutiful Càuntri”
1:40 to 3 p.m. in Basil 135
Presented by faculty in the Modern Languages Department, this Italian film (with English subtitles) deals with the ecological disaster caused by illicit waste trafficking by organized crime in one region in Italy. The screening will be followed by a short discussion of the film and its themes.

Film Screening: Fisher Student Films Selected as part of the 2018 Fast Forward Film Festival
3:10 to 4:30 p.m. in Basil 135
Two student films, “Ego to Eco” and “A Generation Rising,” will be screened and discussed by the film makers.

Panel Discussion: Sustainability in Health Care
4:40 to 6 p.m. in Basil 135
Led by Dr. Karl Williams from the Wegmans School of Pharmacy, hear from professors and health care professionals on how the field seeks to adopt more sustainable practices.

Film Screening: “The True Cost
6:15 to 9:20 p.m. in Basil 135
This documentary unpacks the “Fast Fashion” industry and the human and environmental costs of cheap clothing. Sponsored by the Outdoor Club.


Panel Discussion: Sustainable Food
9:05 to 11:05 a.m. in Golisano Gateway Midlevel
Led by Drs. Deborah Uman (English) and Ginny Maier (Biology), this discussion will focus on sustainability within the food industry.

Discussion: Public Choice and Complications When We Make Policy
11:15 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. in Golisano Gateway Midlevel
Drs. Clair Smith and Katie Donovan will discuss public choice and some of the complications when we make environmental policy.  It will expose some of how the legislative sausage is made, including the compromises and considerations that impact policy deliberations.

Film Screening: “Albatross”
12:20 to 2:20 p.m. in Basil 135

Student Presentations: Disasters and Their Social Contexts
3:35 to 5:35 p.m. in Basil 135
Students in Dr. David Bell’s Disaster, Hazard, and Risk anthropology course showcase their research related to international health, disaster or crisis response, humanitarian intervention, human rights issues, environmental health, and other elements of public health risk.

Business Workshop: The Power of Impact Assessment: Tools and Strategies for Measuring Business Success
4:30 p.m. in Golisano Gateway Midlevel
$25 for the workshop* Register online until Wednesday, Oct. 3
Designed to help businesses and organizations better understand how to become more environmentally and ethically sustainable. Speakers include Patricia Donahue of Measure Up Finger Lakes; John Nichols and Bob Rissburger of the Rochester Area Business Ethics Foundation; and Debbie Friedel, director of sustainability at Delaware North Companies, who will present new initiatives and programs designed to build strong, competitive, and sustainable businesses and community services for Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. The hour-long presentation will be followed by a networking reception.

Lecture: You Don’t Need To Be a Scientist To Be Sustainable
6:30 p.m. in Basil 135
Scott Socha ’93, president of parks and resorts at Delaware North Companies, will discuss his journey toward sustainability at Delaware North. The keynote is free and open to the public.

Discussion: Sustained Dialogue Discussion of “Albatross”
7:30 to 9:20 p.m. in Wilson Formal
Using sustained dialogue techniques, students, faculty, and staff will discuss the documentary, “Albatross,” and the issues the film raises through its narrative.

For more information about the Albatross Project, email Linda MacCammon at