Professor Uses Oysters to Teach College Students to Curb Global Warming

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Internationally acclaimed environmental artist Mara G Haseltine joined NYC's The New School for Liberal Arts to teach, Oyster Gardens, the only class of its kind worldwide where the students will focus on the design and planning of a floating oyster colony, an innovative public art project which merges art, sustainable design and field science.

Internationally acclaimed environmental artist Mara G Haseltine joined NYC's The New School for Liberal Arts to teach Oyster Gardens, the only class of its kind worldwide where the students will focus on the design and planning of a floating oyster colony, an innovative public art project which merges art, sustainable design and field science.

Oyster Gardens celebrates New York's past as the oyster capital of the world boasting of 350 square miles of bio diverse oyster reef as well as to prepare it for a sustainable future with a bountiful biodiverse estuary. Students learn about the history and the biology of the Crassostrea Virginia, the indigenous oyster of New York, as well as traditional and new innovative methods of reef restoration. In this unique course students work hand in hand with a cross disciplinary team that includes marine engineers, marine biologists, along with conservation organizations to plan and design and a 'moveable reef' -- a floating oyster colony that could be deployed around the harbor.

The idea is to bring back Crassotrea Virginica to New York, which would create a natural filtration system that cleans the waters and simultaneously brings back biodiversity, that has been missing in New York's waters and estuaries since the Industrial Revolution. Oysters are the backbone of the benthic habitat and can act as natural water treatment plants. The average oyster filters 5-25 gallons of "nutrient" rich water per day. The restoration of 100 square miles of reef would filter twenty seven billion tons of wastewater that flows into New York's waterways annually. The reef would not only be a haven for oyster,s but would quickly become a diverse habitat for aquatic life of all forms, from gastropods to stripped bass.

"Global warming is not just an environmental issue. It affects our public health and national security. It's an urgent matter of survival for everyone on the planet -- the most urgent threat facing humanity today," said Mara Haseltine. "I am thrilled that the New School has given me the opportunity to teach students about how local efforts can have a major global impact in fighting global warming. In an age where the public is constantly hearing about the devastating effects of climate degradation, a class like this offers a beacon of hope," she added.

At the end of the fall semester the class will mount a small exhibition laying out the final proposal for the large scale floating oyster garden, as well as a series of design experiments for small oyster gardens with the goal that they are constructed and launched in the spring.

This is not Ms. Haseltine's first work involving oysters, on July 1st 2007 on the Queens waterfront at MacNeil Park in College Point, Mara launched, with a team of marine biologists, the first pilot project to grow a solar-powered oyster reef. The project employed a mineral accretion process known as Biorock, which uses low voltage, direct-current electricity to grow solid limestone underwater. Seedling oysters were affixed to two double-helix-shaped metal sculptures created by Haseltine in her Brooklyn studio. The DNA inspired double-helix shapes merged aesthetic beauty and optimal functionality to the project, and double as educational tools for visitors.

About Mara G Haseltine

Haseltine graduated from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, with a bachelor's degree in studio art and art history, and from The San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, Calif., with a master's Degree in new genres and sculpture. Haseltine currently resides in New York City. She has worked as a sculptor throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and at the National Museum of Trinidad and Tobago in the Port of Spain, Trinidad. Haseltine is a Representative at Global Coral Reef Alliance, at United Nations for Sustainable Island Development partnership with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development Conference or "CSD". Haseltine is also currently creating reef restoration designs for coral and oysters. Including some novel new concepts for floating island reefs, which have the potential to improve aquaculture and aquatic biodiversity in areas where it is now being depleted. To learn more about the artist visit (http://www.calamara.com)

About the New School

The New School is a legendary, progressive university comprising eight schools bound by a common, unusual intent: to prepare and inspire its 9,400 undergraduate and graduate students to bring actual, positive change to the world. From its Greenwich Village campus, The New School launches economists and actors, fashion designers and urban planners, dancers and anthropologists, orchestra conductors, filmmakers, political scientists, organizational experts, jazz musicians, scholars, psychologists, historians, journalists, and above all, world citizens-individuals whose ideas and innovations forge new paths of progress in the arts, design, humanities, public policy, and the social sciences.

For additional information please contact Carlos Sosa at: carloscalamara@mac.com

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