I was invited to deliver the keynote speech at the 2019 Southeast Asia Symposium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington state, sponsored by the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment. The symposium also featured student reports from field schools in Thailand, as well as a batik workshop and staff lectures. Held during homecoming weekend, the event was well attended by not just students but also by parents and alumni. My kind hosts were Prof Sunil Kukreja and Prof Gareth Barkin from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
During the same trip, I also had the opportunity to visit and speak at the University Willamette in Salem, Oregon. Here, Prof Greg Felker from the Department of International Studies kindly organised a slot for my public lecture on “The Political Future of Fires and Haze in Southeast Asia”.
Both lectures were an excellent opportunity for me to share about the air pollution problem in this region with those from North America. During the Q&A and side conversations, I found interesting parallels with the Pacific Northwest’s regional forest fires as well that could influence future research directions.