Deans’ Theme 2011: The Gulf Oil Spill
"This is probably the biggest environmental disaster we have ever faced in this country. It is certainly the biggest oil spill and we are responding with the biggest environmental response."
President Obama's adviser on energy and climate
The epic oil spill that began in the Gulf of Mexico during April of 2010 has riveted our attention for the following good reasons. The oil spill:
- Has caused the loss of human life
- Continues to exact a terrible toll on the people of the Gulf coast
- Affects a vast region and threatens multiple ecological systems and endangered species with environmental catastrophe
- Imperils the ways of life of diverse communities
- Raises daunting engineering challenges
- Poses serious questions for risk management and corporate responsibility
- Generates enormous public health concerns
- Prompts the largest tort action in history
- Immediately relates to geopolitics and fundamental questions about national energy policy
- Provides vivid case studies of the challenges that disasters pose for governmental officials and various levels of government (local, parish, state, tribal, federal)
- Showcases the importance of objective research and exposes funding practices that compromise its integrity, retard its dissemination, and erode public trust in science.
“…Many are now starting to realize that the pain from this oil spill will be felt not just for months or years - but for decades.”
Because the Gulf crisis touches on so many vital research areas—water, energy, engineering, environment, politics, labor, corporate responsibility, law—it is uniquely suited to serve as a focus for our inaugural Academic Deans’ Theme. Together, as a university, our goal for this academic year is to investigate, research, study, and engage in multiple interdisciplinary aspects of this extraordinary event.