University of Vermont

Three New Gund Tea Videos from the Gund Institute of Ecological Economics

The Gund Institute of Ecological Economics released three new Gund Tea videos from a set of diverse and dynamic speakers.

Health, Happiness, and Hahaha: Twitter's many reflections of Social Stories

Dr. Peter Dodds, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, and Director of the Complex Systems Center, UVM, provides motivation for measuring well-being online through non-invasive observation, as a complement to traditional survey methods, and outlines recent `big data' efforts that have extracted emotional content from written expression. He reports in particular on a real-time, remote-sensing, non-invasive, text-based approach, which has been used to uncover collective dynamical patterns of happiness as expressed in the global social network Twitter, song lyrics, blogs, political speeches, and news sources. He discusses global levels of temporal, spatial, demographic, and social variations in happiness and information levels, as well as evidence of emotional synchrony and contagion. He employs a particular graphical method to show how individual words contribute to changes in average happiness between any two texts. Finally, he discusses how natural language appears to contain a frequency-independent positive bias, and how this connects to collective cooperation and evolution.

The Southern Brazil Agroecology Case

Dr. Abdon L. Schmitt, Gund Visiting Scholar, Professor, University of Santa Catarina-UFSC, Brazil, discusses how payments for ecosystem services (PES) for restoration activities might facilitate restoration while keeping small farms viable in Brazil.  Brazil's Atlantic Forest is a biodiversity hotspot harboring more threatened and endangered species than any other Brazilian ecosystem. Only substantial conservation and restoration can reduce the threat of catastrophic extinctions. Abdon discusses PES and how small farmers can adopt agroecology practices ranging from Voisin grazing systems and silvopastoral management to agroforestry in riparian zones, which can help protect and restore critical natural capital while enhancing farmers' income.

Connecting Gender Equality to Environmental Sustainability

Cheryl Hanna, Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School, discusses violence against women in the context of both the United States and internationally and how human rights courts have been making the links to violence against women and gender equality. She discusses the direct and often unexplored implications for the environmental movement, including things like reproductive autonomy and population control, household energy security, and sustainable agriculture.

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