University of Vermont

The Honors College

Honors College Faculty Seminar 2008
Transportation, Health and the Environment
August 18-20, 2008

Addressing the participants attending the 5th annual Honors College faculty seminar, Honors College Dean Abu Rizvi welcomed the large group gathered together in the Multipurpose room in University Heights North. Drawn from all colleges at the University, the participants had come to explore this year's topic, Transportation, Health and Environment. Coordinated by Drs. Lisa Altman-Hall, Director of UVM Transportation Center, Alan Rubin, M. D., Research Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, and Richard Galbraith, Professor and Associate Dean of the UVM Medical School, the seminar set forth an ambitious program of readings, panels, case studies, and group activities and projects that would keep the group busy and engaged for the next three days.

Dean Rizvi then introduced Richard Galbraith, who after offering a brief welcome, encouraged the participants to "leave your expertise at the door." As to the seminar topic, "keep an open mind," he said, and "learn from each other." Do this, he concluded, "in order to take advantage of the rich opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange available in the room."

Galbraith was followed by Lisa Altman-Hall, who spoke more broadly about the vast trans-disciplinary opportunities available at UVM. Then, addressing specifically the seminar topic, she articulated her alarm that transportation is taken for granted in our society. For that reason, she felt, this was "an opportune time to focus on transportation" as inseparable from health and the environment, particularly at this critical juncture in our history.

The last welcome was offered by Alan Rubin, who provided a brief history of the evolution of the seminar. "The process began in March of last year," he said, "long before gas prices had passed the critical threshold of four dollars a gallon." He said he went around the University "asking people what they thought about the connection between health and transportation." From the many responses he received, he and Lisa Altman-Hall came up with a frame for the seminar. They then fleshed it out by identifying six key topics, inviting experts to present and lead small group discussions, and to assist in the development of the 'New Town' design project, which would be the capstone activity of the seminar.