More than 20 Fielding faculty, students, and alumni from the School of Leadership Studies recently journeyed from Summer Session in Tucson to visit Biosphere 2, a science research facility in Oracle, Arizona.

 

A bridge and water

More than three acres in size, the enclosed area houses five ecological systems or biomes, from a mini rainforest to a mini desert — with a mini-ocean in between.

Constructed nearly 30 years ago at a cost of $200 million by a Texas oilman, Biosphere 2 was meant to be the second fully self-sufficient living system after Earth (Biosphere 1) and was inspired by the Apollo Space Program and ideas of future space colonization.

Biosphere 2 is now used for climate and adaptation research by the University of Arizona. Professor Greg Barron-Gafford of the university’s School of Geography and Development and an expert in natural resources and the environment led the group deep into Biosphere 2.

Fielding’s concentration in Leadership for Social and Ecological Sustainability together with the Sustainability Work Group (SWG) sponsored the seminar, which included faculty members David Blake WillisRich AppelbaumKeith Melville, new faculty member K. Melchor Hall, adjunct Susan Stillman, and ISI Fellow and SWG co-founder Kerul Kassel. Alum Paul Stillman, whose work on sustainability led to the connections at Biosphere 2, also attended.

The seminar was tied into coursework for credit in systems and ecological issues.