ONEONTA, N.Y. -- Internationally recognized sustainable technology expert John Barrie will deliver SUNY Oneonta’s 11th annualCornell-Gladstone-Hanlon-Kaufmann Lecture on Environmental Education and Communication on Thursday, Oct. 6.
The lecture, titled, “How to Lift a Pyramid—Inspiring Innovation for the Poor,” will begin at 8 p.m. in the Hunt Union Ballroom on campus. Admission is free, and members of the community are invited to attend.
An architect and industrial designer, Barrie is the executive director of the Appropriate Technology Collaborative, an award-winning, nonprofit company that designs low-cost technologies for low-income people throughout the world. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., the company works side-by-side with communities in developingcountries to design, develop, demonstrate and distribute sustainable technological solutions that promote economic growth and improve quality oflife.
Barrie works with teams of engineering, design and business students from colleges and universities across the United States to develop new technologies that can be completely constructed in or near the communities where they’ll be used. Projects have included a solar vaccine refrigerator, bamboo-reinforced concrete and low-cost LED lights—made mostly out of old cellphone components—to replace kerosene lamps. During spring break last year, a team of Michigan engineering students traveled to rural Guatemala to build wind turbines they designed, using blades made from local materials and covered with cloth woven nearby, to provide clean, emissions-free power to the region.
The “design pyramid” is the opposite of the economic pyramid, Barrie says, with lots of designers creating products for the world’s wealthiest citizens and relatively few designing products for the billions of people at the bottom of the pyramid. The premise behind Barrie’s work is that finding better ways to provide communities with basic things like light and water promotes economic growththrough a domino effect. Demand for the new wind turbines will stimulate business for local weaving cooperatives; replacing dim kerosene lamps with bright, electric light will provide more time for shopkeepers to work and children to study.
The Cornell-Gladstone-Hanlon-Kaufmann Annual Lectureship on Environmental Education and Communication was established by Virginia and William Kaufmann through a gift to the College at Oneonta Foundation in 1999. The lecture series is named in honor of several families from the Oneonta and Stamford areas who exemplified an enduring love and appreciation for the natural resources of the Catskill region. Virginia Kaufmann was a 1944 SUNY Oneonta graduate.
More information about this event is available from Dr. Thomas Horvath, director of SUNY Oneonta’s Environmental Sciences Program, at (607) 436-3899.