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Network Winter 2013

The application deadline for Network Winter 2013 was Friday, October 5, 2012.

Network Winter 2013 will be held from
Monday, January 14 to Friday, January 18, 2013.

Information about Network Winter 2013 is included below.

The 2013 Network Winter seminars will be organized around the theme of “The Pacific.” Our location in Hawaii will provide seminar participants with a special vantage point from which they can examine the history, culture, and science of the Pacific and its surrounding regions. This winter’s seminars will focus on Pacific Biodiversity, Pacific Peoples and Places , and Pacific Literature and Film. The seminar schedule will include plenary sessions where each seminar convener will present an analysis of the Pacific from various scholarly perspectives.

The following seminars will be offered:

Pacific Biodiversity
Pacific Peoples and Places
Pacific Literature and Film


To access FAQs for the Network Winter program, please click here.


About the Seminar

Understanding the variety of life on Earth—biodiversity—and how to sustain it is a fundamental challenge of our time. Oceanic islands have long served as natural laboratories for understanding the diversification of life. In particular, the many thousands of islands spanning the tropical Pacific support an unparalleled array of terrestrial communities whose patterns of diversity contributed fundamental insights to the development of theories about the geographical distribution of species. Encompassing a broad range of landscapes and cultures, and some of the most intact and biologically rich oceanic archipelagos on Earth, the Pacific illustrates the power of evolution to shape life on the planet and the myriad ways in which humans interact with this diversity. Using the Pacific as our focus region, this seminar will examine what biodiversity is, its relationship to human beings, what threatens it today, and approaches to its conservation.

There is broad consensus in the international scientific community that the world is facing a biodiversity crisis: an accelerated loss of species brought about by human activity. Island settings, particularly oceanic islands, present distinctive challenges for biodiversity conservation due to their biological uniqueness and high vulnerability to acute threats (e.g., susceptibility to invasions, compact geographies, rising sea levels). Pacific island peoples face particular challenges related to increasingly transformed homelands and growing populations. These factors present opportunities for novel approaches to management and social innovation. Island societies, in which decisions must be made on narrow timescales and geographies, are bellwethers of how people around the globe can respond to a rapidly changing world.

In addition to giving participants a scientific foundation in biodiversity and conservation, the seminar will also provide examples and strategies for integrating these topics into a range of undergraduate biology courses. These educational sessions will exemplify active learning and scientific teaching approaches by using hands-on activities and exercises.

About the Conveners

Eleanor Sterling is the director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Dr. Sterling has more than 25 years of field research experience in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where she has conducted surveys and censuses, as well as behavioral and ecological studies of primates, whales, and other mammals. She is considered a world authority on the aye-aye, a nocturnal lemur found only in Madagascar. She has studied ten languages and is researching the inter-relationships between biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity. In addition, Dr. Sterling studies the distribution patterns of biodiversity in tropical regions of the world and translates this information into recommendations for conservation managers, decision-makers, and educators. In 2000, in partnership with colleagues from around the world, she launched the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners, a global initiative that seeks to improve training in conservation and targets educators working with both students and conservation professionals. Dr. Sterling has served as an adjunct professor at Columbia University since 1997, and is currently the director of graduate studies for the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology. She received her B.A. from Yale College in 1983, her M.Phil. and then her Ph.D. in Anthropology and Forestry and Environmental Studies from Yale University in 1993.

Ana Luz Porzecanski is associate director for capacity development at the AMNH's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and serves as director of the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners. Since joining the CBC in 2003, she has designed and led professional development opportunities and teaching materials for university professors and conservation professionals around the globe. In addition to her experience in training educators on active and scientific approaches, Dr. Porzecanski also performs experimental education research on the development of key skills, such as critical thinking, in undergraduate students. Dr. Porzecanski teaches courses in conservation biology and evolution at Columbia University and New York University, where she is an adjunct faculty member. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the Universidad de la República, Uruguay, and her Ph.D. from Columbia University, where she carried out research on the systematics and historical biogeography of South American aridland birds, as well as on international environmental policy issues.


About the Seminar

Oceania (the Pacific Island States as well as Australia and New Zealand) spans one-third of the earth, with more than twenty island governments participating in a wide range of globalized activities. American interests in the region date to the early decades of the 19th century when expansive New England led commerce, most notably whaling and trade with China, prompted calls for a Pacific exploratory expedition. Vestiges of the vast American presence during the Second World War continue to serve as a reminder of the strategic importance of the contemporary Pacific.

The transition from islands under colonial rule to independent Pacific nation states took place comparatively late (mostly in the 1970s and 1980s), and with considerable haste. Pacific island nations constitute some of the youngest states on the global stage. With few exceptions, these young nations are vibrant democracies holding free and fair elections on a regular basis. Considering the circumstances of their birth, most Pacific nations have done relatively well in developing structures that with sufficient support can advance the quality of life for their citizens.

This is not, however, to understate the problems facing contemporary Pacific island societies. Invited and imposed global linkages have proven to be both a boon and a bane for the region. New communication technologies have substantially reduced the often cited tyranny of distance and isolation. Small island states have in some circumstances benefitted from their smallness, allowing a greater degree of freedom to choose global connections. In contrast, issues such as economic development, the introduction of communicable diseases (e.g., HIV/AIDS) and climate change pose daunting challenges.

Our seminar is intended to provide an overview of the contemporary Pacific islands region, as well as its political and economic evolution since World War II. We will hear from Pacific Islanders about the changing roles played by regional powers such as Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, as well as countries with a significant presence in the region including China, France and Japan. The interactive sessions will provide a solid area studies foundation for infusing and integrating a broad range of social, economic and cultural topics into undergraduate courses.

About the Convener

Gerard "Jerry" Finin is co-director of the East-West Center's Pacific Islands Development Program, where he has served as a senior fellow for over two decades. His research focuses on social and economic development issues across Oceania. Most recently, he has led election observation missions to Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and Solomon Islands. Finin received his doctorate from Cornell University.


About the Seminar

Storytelling is at the heart of this seminar. We begin at the very beginning, when story was told orally and passed down from one generation to another. After an examination of the special characteristics of oral storytelling, the focus shifts to the introduction of the printed word and the emergence of a creative literature in the 1960s. What caused this literature to emerge, and who were the storytellers? What were the themes that preoccupied them, and why? How was this literature similar to or different from oral literature and what are its special characteristics? Why was this literature primarily in English and not in the indigenous languages of the Pacific? Who were the consumers of this literature? What were the reactions of Pacific Islanders as well as literary critics, from within and without, to this literature?

The second part of the seminar examines storytelling through the medium of the feature film. Again, we begin at the very beginning, when representations of the Pacific by outsiders, Hollywood particularly, first appeared on screen, and ending with contemporary filmmaking by Pacific Islanders. How were Pacific Islanders represented in the early days of filmmaking? Who were the consumers of these stories about the Pacific? What were the common themes and images that kept appearing in these films? Was there any link between these representations and colonialism? How did Pacific Islanders, many of whom were involved in the emergence and growth of Pacific literature, react to these representations?

The third part of the seminar focuses on several literary texts that were made into feature films. These include Sons for the Return Home, Once Were Warriors, and Whale Rider. How are these stories different from the literary texts and why? Who are the creative forces behind these films? Were these stories influenced by the dictates of the medium as well as the marketplace? Is it possible to marry commerce with art in filmmaking? Finally, this seminar draws attention to Pear ta Ma `On Maf: The Land has Eyes and O Le Tulafale: The Orator, two recent features made in the Rotuman and Samoan languages respectively but intended for international audiences in order to complicate the business of storytelling through the medium of film.

his seminar is appropriate for faculty members in literature and film departments who might be interested in integrating content about the Pacific through film and literature into their courses. Similarly, the seminar also will provide participants with content suitable for helping students to understand issues surrounding colonialism, representation, and the marketplace for creative works.

About the Conveners

Vilsoni Hereniko is a scholar, playwright, and filmmaker. He has written widely on Pacific literature, and has taught Pacific literature at the University of the South Pacific, University of Hawaii, and the University of Washington. He has written and published academic books and articles, plays, short stories, and children's stories, and is a stage and film director. After making a documentary and a short narrative film, he wrote, directed, and co-produced a feature film set on his home island of Rotuma. Titled The Land Has Eyes, this feature premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was an official selection in numerous international and indigenous film festivals around the world. After nearly 20 years at the University of Hawaii's Center for Pacific Islands Studies, he left for the University of the South Pacific where he served as the director of the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture, and Pacific Studies for two years. Returning to the University of Hawaii in August 2012, he is now a professor in the Academy for Creative Media where he teaches indigenous filmmaking and film criticism. Currently, he is working on a feature film set in the Marshall Islands.

Jeannette Paulson Hereniko has over 35 years of experience in the film industry, starting as a producer/director/writer for the Hawaii State Department of Education's television in the mid 1970's. She is best known as the founding director of the Hawaii International Film Festival from 1981 to 1996 and founding director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 1990. She is also a founding board member and vice president of an international organization committed to promoting Asian films throughout the world, called NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema), and is the president of the United States chapter of NETPAC. She is an original member of the Nomination Council for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, headquartered in Queensland, Australia. In addition to producing and writing over 20 documentaries, she produced the award-winning narrative feature film from Fiji, The Land Has Eyes. She is the founder and president of Asia Pacific Films, an online film distribution company with over 650 films made by Asians and Pacific Islanders, and in this capacity was named the "Entrepreneur of the Year in Digital Media" from the Hawaii Venture Capital Association in 2009.