Nick Fetty | December 19, 2014
Students in the University of Iowa’s Environmental Justice course have created a blog so they can publicly share their final papers about the Canadian tar sands.
The blog – Iowa Tar Sands Project – features nearly two dozen reports on various aspects of the tar sands industry ranging from environmental impacts to social issues. One student (yours truly) produced a video documentary focusing on energy alternatives including efforts being taken in Iowa and specifically on the University of Iowa campus.
Kyle Vint – a PhD student in Communication Studies – examined how donations to public universities affect research, with specific focus on the tar sands. He highlighted a $6 million donation that the University of Louisville is expected to receive from the the Charles Koch Foundation and Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter. Charles Koch and his brother David have also made massive donations to George Mason University ($23 million) and Florida State University ($2.8 million) which some have criticized, citing that it jeopardizes the integrity of objective research and unfairly impacts administrative decisions. Vint points out that the Koch brothers are “are the largest foreign lease holder of lands slated for tar sands development in Canada” and that “[they] are financially invested in the outcomes of major policy decisions concerning tar sands development.”
The Environmental Justice course is taught by visiting professor Dr. Nicholas A. Brown and is offered by the UI’s Department of Geographical and Sustainable Sciences.