Thursday, February 23, 2017
PGF 2017 square image

In April, the University of Iowa will host scholars, experts, and researchers from around the world as part of the 2017 Provost’s Global Forum, "Women's Health & Environment: Going Up in Smoke.” The goal of the Provost's Global Forum is to inspire discussions of global affairs and build relationships between the university and the state of Iowa.

Organizers Jerry Anthony, associate professor of urban & regional planning, Matthew Hill, associate professor of anthropology, Meena Khandelwal, associate professor of anthropology and gender studies, Marc Linderman, associate professor of geography, and HS Uday Kumar, professor of mechanical engineering, will host a three-day academic conference comprised of lectures, presentations, and panel discussions to help raise awareness about concepts concerning the global problem of people using traditional wood-burning cookstoves.

Cooking with firewood and other biofuels is by many accounts one of the most urgent problems in the world today. The United Nations and Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves report that about 2.7 billion people in the world depend on traditional cookstoves or open fires fueled by biomass. Traditional cookstoves contribute over 20% of global black carbon emissions. The World Health Organization estimates that more than four million people die annually from indoor air pollution; exposure to traditional cookstoves is the second worst health-risk factor for women and children globally. This forum will explore the story of traditional wood-burning cookstoves (TWCs) in the global south, and of the many (largely failed) attempts to replace them with improved cookstoves (ICs).

Opening the conference, Gautam Yadama, assistant vice chancellor for international affairs and dean of Boston College School of Social Work, will deliver the Joel Barkan Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, April 12, at 11:00 a.m., in the Senate Chamber in the UI Old Capitol Museum. Forum organizers will host a display and demonstration of cookstoves on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., followed in the evening by a live production of WorldCanvass from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. in the Voxman Music Building. This televised discussion is hosted by Joan Kjaer and will feature many of the forum’s keynote speakers and scholars.

On Thursday, April 13, Kirk Smith, professor of global environmental health at University of California, Berkeley, will provide a second keynote presentation at 2:15 p.m. in room W151, Pappajohn Business Building.  Afternoon panel discussions follow until 5:00 p.m. in the Pappajohn Business Building, room W151. Topics will range from discussions concerning climate change, global health impacts, and technology alternatives to wood-burning cookstoves. The day will conclude with a special film screening of the documentary What the Health at 7:30 p.m. at the Iowa Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union. 

The third and final day of the forum, Friday, April 14, will take place at the Becker Communication Studies Building from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with panel discussions focused on clean cookstove programs, prospects for the future, as well as a special panel on the topic of writing about climate change. 

All events are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of conference events and people involved in the forum, visit:

The forum is made possible through the generous support of the Stanley UI-Foundation Support Organization. Additional UI sponsors include the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, the Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, the School of Urban & Regional Planning, the Public Policy Center, the College of Public Health, the Anthropology Colloquium Committee, and the Campus Activities Board. 

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in these events, contact Sarolta Petersen in advance at or 319-335-3862.