Jan. 25, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces the theme its “Green Living Seminar Series” this spring semester will be “Sustainability and the Role of Technology.” This 11-part series will begin on Thursday, Jan. 25, with a presentation on “Making Technological Innovation Work for Sustainable Development” by Alicia Harley, a Ph.D at the Harvard Kennedy School, John F. Kennedy School of Government, in Cambridge.

All “Green Living” seminars will take at 5:30 p.m. in room 121 of the Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation on the MCLA campus. Presented on Thursdays throughout the spring semester, this series is free and open to the public.

“Sustainability and the Role of Technology” will focus on the ways that technology can improve the ways we manage our food, energy, and water systems, and how we conserve natural resources.

“Through these presentations, students and community members will have opportunities to consider both the benefits and limits of technological approaches to sustainability, in order to learn about how we can most effectively develop and apply sustainable technologies,” said Dr. Elena Traister, MCLA professor of environmental science.

Harley is a doctoral candidate in Public Policy and a Doctoral Research Fellow in the Sustainability Science Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she studies innovation in agriculture systems. Her work aims to improve our understanding of how to govern innovation to improve the well-being of small and marginal farmers.

Her primary project is a multi-level analysis of agriculture innovation policy in the state of Bihar, India. At the state level, she is analyzing statewide agriculture data and conducting expert interviews across public, private and civil society sectors to better understand the structure of the innovation system in Bihar.

In addition to her work in Bihar, Harley also works on several other projects including: a randomized control field trial testing different institutional approaches for supporting small and marginal farmers in adoption of solar powered irrigation pumps in Nepal; a cross-state comparison of subsidy policies to promote drip irrigation adoption in India; and a cross national study of policies to promote solar powered irrigation across Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Harley also works with the Initiative on Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development at Harvard Kennedy School of Government as the agriculture sector lead. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude, in environmental science and public policy, and a citation in Arabic from Harvard College in 2008, and subsequently worked as a greenhouse gas reduction program coordinator for Harvard's Office for Sustainability.

Following that, Harley spent a year in Cairo as a Fulbright Scholar researching the political economy of agriculture and food security in Egypt, before returning to graduate school.

This semester’s Green Living Seminars will take place Jan. 25 to April 12. Future Green Living presentations include:

Feb. 1: “Treatment Technologies for Small Water Systems: Innovation at the Water-Energy Nexus,” presented by Patrick Wittbold, quality assurance manager at the Water Innovation Network for Sustainable Small Systems (WINSSS) at UMASS-Amherst.

Feb. 8: “The Future of Smart Grid Technologies,” presented by Jennifer Schilling, director of strategy and performance at Eversource Energies, a Fortune 500 energy company headquartered in Boston and in Hartford, Conn., that offers retail electricity and natural gas service to more than 3.6 million customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Feb. 15:  “How a Network of Real-Time Sensors is Being Used to Understand and Manage the Hudson River,” presented by Stuart Findlay, aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

Feb. 22: “Innovative Strategies for Facilitating and Monitoring Fish Movement and Migration,” presented by Alex Haro, fish passage engineering section leader at the United States Geologic Survey.

March 1: “Using Forest Models to Guide Sustainable Forestry Practices,” presented by Charles Canham, forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

March 8: “Innovating Open Source Technology for Small Scale Sustainable Agriculture,” presented by Dorn Cox, co-founder of FarmOS and Farm Hack, and farmer of Tuckaway Farm in Lee, N.H.

March 22: “Challenges of Offshore Wind Development,” presented Alison Bates, lecturer at UMASS-Amherst.

March 29: “Landscape Modeling to Provide Guidance for Strategic Habitat Conservation,” presented by Ethan Plunkett, research associate at UMASS-Amherst.

April 5: “Understanding Potential Large Wind Farm Impacts on Local Meteorology Using Satellite Data,” presented by Liming Zhou, associate professor at SUNY-Albany.                 

April 12: “Studying Whales Using Drones: The Ocean Alliance’s Snotbot,” presented by Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance, in Gloucester.

Every semester, MCLA’s Green Living Seminar Series hosts lectures by local, regional, and national experts. The seminars are organized around a central theme related to the environment and sustainability. The 2018 series is a presentation of the MCLA Environmental Studies Department and MCLA’s Berkshire Environmental Resource Center.

For more information, go to or contact Traister at (413) 662-5303.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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