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Linda Silka


A Message from Incoming SPSSI President

Linda Silka, Senior Fellow, Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions; Professor Emerita, School of Economics, University of Maine

Hi everyone. As the new SPSSI President I’m writing to you from the state of Maine. If you haven’t been to Maine I hope you will come and visit. Our autumns are striking with stunning fall foliage and beautiful seascapes. Yet as is true in most locations, we are struggling with climate change and understanding all of the impacts climate change may have including on our coast (Maine has the fourth-longest coastline in the United States—longer than California’s). In Maine we struggle with poverty and have the oldest population in the United States. I mention all of these interconnected issues because they speak to SPSSI’s themes and how we need to interlink our studies on various issues and also look to ensure that the studies that we do lead to usable results and actions—not just for some hypothetical place and group but also for the very people with which we live and work.

As the new president, I very much want to learn about how you see the issues being studied by SPSSI members as making a difference for your neighbors, your community, your region, and your country. And how do the different issues come together? I’m fortunate in that much of my work has involved community-university research partnerships that bring together communities, researchers, and policy makers. I’ve learned, for example, from interesting work going on in Australia in my travels there to exchange ideas on community-university partnerships. In my work with refugee and immigrant communities I’ve seen firsthand how agrarian newcomers from Cambodia moving to the polluted industrialized Northeast U.S. encounter problems that need to be co-solved so that it is safe for families to grow much-needed food despite lead contamination in the soil. In my work on climate change I’ve focused on equity issues and how work on climate change needs to connect individuals, communities, regions, and international advocates. And who gets left out: how can we pursue our research in ways that justice and equity become the centerpiece? When I tell my colleagues in other disciplines about the insightful work being done by SPSSI members they are too often initially unfamiliar with this work but express great interest once they learn about this important work and they want to know more.

Please write. I would love to hear about your interests and concerns and how SPSSI is assisting you to meet people who can be helpful to you and who can learn from you as well. Learning together is how we will make a difference. 

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