• Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Karen Barton, professor of geography and geographic information systems at the University of Northern Colorado, will travel to Bangladesh over the winter break to help reduce plastic pollution in the Bay of Bengal while focusing on mitigation and single-use plastic education.

According to a press release from the University of Northern Colorado, Barton will work with the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) in Dhaka and the Center for Bay of Bengal Studies.

Barton will travel to Bangladesh with a Fulbright Specialist Award, part of the larger Fulbright program. The Fulbright Specialist program, according to Fulbright, brings together highly qualified academics and professionals from the United States with host institutions abroad to share their expertise, strengthen institutional connections, enhance skills, gain international experience and learn about other cultures, while building capacity at the foreign host institutions build website of specialist program.

Karen Barton, on one of her many research trips, honored by Fulbright Hays.
Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Systems at the University of Northern Colorado. (Greeley Tribune file).

Barton said plastic waste is a ubiquitous, complex pollutant of growing concern in most regions of the world, but particularly in South Asia.

“In 2019, global plastic pollution reached 370 million tons, 51% of which was produced in Asia,” she said in the UNC publication. “The production of plastics is more than an ocean and environmental problem; It is a public health and social justice issue, particularly in Bangladesh where plastic pollution has reached epic proportions despite a nationwide ban on plastic bags.”

The trip to Bangladesh will be Barton’s second Fulbright experience this year. As part of a Fulbright-Hays scholarship, she spent a month in Norway in the summer. The Fulbright-Hays program awards grants to US K-14 pre-teachers, teachers and administrators, pre-doctoral students, post-doctoral researchers, and US institutions and organizations to support research and education abroad focused on non-Western foreign languages ​​and area studies .

The Fulbright program provides study, teaching, and research grants for US citizens going abroad and non-US citizens coming to the United States.

In Norway, Barton worked with climate scientists, migrant workers, diplomats and others in higher education. She learned about the country’s unique energy resources such as hydropower, petroleum, wind power and biomass and their impact on the environment.

Barton’s experience in Norway led to the creation of a module for one of her courses on a concept called green colonialism. Green colonialism is an issue in Norway as the government rolls out renewable energy plants on land owned by the indigenous Sami community in the far north.

“Renewable energy is great, but expanding these plants on lands owned by the Sami people makes it necessary for the country to ask these tough questions about who benefits from environmental protection,” Barton said. “These are the types of issues I want my students to think about in the context of environmental sustainability. It is important that they consider the perspectives of different stakeholders and understand wider implications.”