black eyed susan
March 08, 2013

Gardening with Native Plants

Have you been scouring catalogs looking for the perfect plants to get started in your garden this spring? This hour on Focus, we talked with Sherrie Snyder, a master naturalist and the President of Illinois Prairie Wild Ones, about the benefits of incorporating native plants in your yard and garden. Sandy Mason, UI extension horticulture expert, also joins the show. 

Wikimedia Commons
February 25, 2013

Weird Life

We are fascinated with exotic life forms; legends of monsters like the Kraken and Nessie litter our folklore. But why? Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with David Toomey, author of the new book Weird Life.

November 01, 2012

Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love

There are many reasons to purchase goods or services from one company over another: price, quality, and convenience. But sometimes, the decision is a moral one; we seek out businesses we believe support or represent our world view – or avoid those that defy it. (The debate earlier this summer over Chick-Fil-A was a demonstration of both).

At the heart of such decisions is whether we deem a company to be socially responsible. But how do you really know? How can you be sure that a reputation is accurate and deserved? And what if the truth is mixed – what if a company leads on one ethical precept, but falls short on another?

Journalist Fran Hawthorne has contemplated these questions, and set out to uncover whether some of the most beloved, trusted companies who have built up a socially responsible reputation really live up to the hype. In the book Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love, Hawthorne takes us behind the scenes of companies with powerful brand loyalty, companies like Tom’s of Maine, Starbucks, and Apple. Along the way, Hawthorne finds out why these companies have earned seemingly unflagging devotion from socially conscious consumers. And she calls out the companies and consumers alike with a provocative question: Is it really about being socially conscious, or just looking like you are?

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 10 am

October 23, 2012

“9 Billion People + 1 Earth = ?”

Andrew Revkin, Senior Fellow at Pace University and Dot Earth blogger for The New York Times

Host: Craig Cohen

After two centuries of explosive growth, the planet's population is widely seen as cresting within the next couple of generations. A best guess for the peak remains roughly 9 billion people. There are even signs that resource-sapping activities will hit a peak as well. Will we overheat or innovate, conserve or despoil, crash or round the curve with a few scrapes? Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth blogger for the New York Times, explores ways to shape and share ideas that can foster progress on a finite planet.

September 12, 2012

The Environment and Human Health and Well-Being

William Sullivan, Professor / BLA Curriculum Committee Chair Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois

Frances Kuo, Associate Professor, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, College of ACES, University of Illinois

Host: Craig Cohen

Research in recent years has indicated a possible connection between people's health and well-being, and the environment around them. From elderly people tending to live longer when they live close to a park, to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder displaying fewer symptoms afer spending time in nature. And then there are people who live in urban settings, without trees and grass. Research has indicated they tend to be more violent and aggressive.

So is it as simple as the more trees around you, the healthier, more productive, and happier you are? Or do we just happen to seek out places to live and work that reflect the personalities we already have, so peaceful, socially engaged people seek out trees, while more aggressive, intense people naturally prefer a big city? Are there other factors at play? Just what is the connection between our environment and our ability to interact, learn, and live healthy?

September 07, 2012

Why Does the World Exist?

Guest: Jim Holt.

Author Jim Holt is not satisfied with the regular responses to the question "Why are we here?" There are many more possible answers, says Holt, than the old God versus the Big Bang debate would suggest. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation with Holt about his new book Why Does the World Exist? He'll talk about his correspondence with philosophers, physicists, and a Buddhist monk in his quest for big answers.

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