A distinguished expert on environmental and energy issues in China, and how these are helping to establish new political openness there, will speak April 30 at Western Kentucky University.

Dr. Jennifer Turner's seminar, "Water is for Fighting: Resolving Water Conflicts in China," will be delivered as part of the Hoffman Environmental Research Institute's Distinguished Speakers in the Environmental Sciences Series at 2:30 p.m. in the Thompson Complex Center Wing, room 129.

She is coordinator of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., a research center whose primary mission is to unite the world of ideas to the world of policy by supporting pre-eminent scholarship and linking that scholarship to issues of concern to officials in Washington.

Dr. Turner's seminar will not only highlight the political and social obstacles to resolving China's growing water conflicts but also explore challenges and opportunities for U.S.-China cooperation over water.

Co-author of the recent policy publication Crouching Suspicions, Hidden Potential: U.S. Environmental and Energy Cooperation with China, Dr. Turner has long been interested in Chinese water issues.

"China's severe water degradation and scarcity contributes to population movements, health risks, food scarcity problems and rising income disparities," she said. "These problems raise humanitarian concerns and also have the potential to affect China's social, political and economic stability."

As coordinator of meetings, study tours and publications for the China Environment Forum, Dr. Turner has come to understand the broader impacts of the Chinese environmental movement on society there. In a speech to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China last year, she noted that the Chinese government has opened up political space for environmental protection activities.

Congress established the Woodrow Wilson Center in 1968 as the official national memorial to President Wilson, under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution.

"Jennifer's extensive experience in China and her deep insight into the evolving environmental protection scene there have provided a great benefit to those of us at WKU who are working on challenging water resource issues in China," according to Chris Groves, director of the Hoffman Institute within the Applied Research and Technology Program.

Dr. Groves, along with students and colleagues, has been studying water issues in southwest China for the past nine years. "We are very pleased that she would take the time to come to WKU to share this insight," he said.

"Dr. Turner's talk will highlight one of global society's most profound challenges for the 21st century – the provision and management of clean drinking water," said Dr. David Keeling, head of the Geography and Geology Department.

At the Hoffman Institute, "faculty and students have been working for nearly a decade on water-related development issues, and the Institute's growing relationship with Dr. Turner and the Woodrow Wilson Center continues to help us develop our China research and education program," said Dr. Keeling, who has traveled to China twice in the Hoffman program.

For information, contact the Hoffman Institute at (270) 745-4169 or Geography and Geology at (270) 745-4555. If you'd like to receive WKU news via E-mail, click here.