Sustaining Our Shores A Necessary Conversation

written by CLEA HARRELSON ’20

John “J.P.” Walsh, University of Rhode Island (URI) professor of oceanography and director of the Coastal Resources Center, is part of a network of collaborators across URI and around the world increasingly interested in understanding how plastics move from land and to sea, and how they impact the environment. The first step in tackling a complicated environmental threat like plastics according to Walsh, demands what he calls “good conversation.” To catalyze interdisciplinary dialog around critical coastal issues, Walsh, alongside a team of dedicated URI staff and partners, are organizing a series of speakers and events for the fall 2021 URI Honors Colloquium: Sustaining Our Shores. The Colloquium prioritizes three main themes: climate change and coasts in crisis, the future of seafood, and plastics and marine pollution.

“All of these topics are related,” said Walsh. “The question is how can we address these challenges building on the connections to start coming up with solutions?” The Colloquium will present a platform not only to foster conversation among URI researchers, but also an opportunity to draw together researchers, private partners, and community members from across Rhode Island and around the world. “We are going to try to broadcast this to a broader audience than has been done in the past,” Walsh explained. “We also hope to include international partners of the Coastal Resources Center from places like Africa and the Philippines.” For Walsh and the Colloquium advisory committee, reflecting on the methods of communication and who has a seat at the table is

URI Initiative Plastics: Land to Sea SPRING | 2021 Page 53

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