WCSU Covid-19 Information Fall 2021

Jane Goodall Center : History of the Jane Goodall Center


Dr. Manoj Misra is the current chair of the Jane Goodall Center. He is an Associate Professor at WCSU and teaches courses on environmental sociology, environmental justice, and critical food studies. He earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Alberta, Canada. Before joining WCSU, he was an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Development at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Republic of Korea. He also spent time as a visiting research fellow at the “Cluster of Excellence: Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University, Germany.

Dr. Misra’s writings have won the best graduate paper awards at the American Anthropological Association and the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development. He has published research articles in top-tier academic journals including in the Journal of Agrarian Change, Agriculture and Human Values, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Climate and Development. He also regularly writes in newspapers and magazines. His research interests are agrarian change and food sovereignty, energy and environmental justice, and development dispossession in South Asia.

He is currently studying the coal-centric energy transition in South Asia and the resistance movements against such transitions.



Dr. Mitch Wagener is the outgoing chair of Jane Goodall Center. He teaches ecology, climate ecology, and related courses at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. In 2019, he received the Aquarion Environmental Champion Award, Individual Communication category. That same year Dr. Wagener received an official citation from the Connecticut General Assembly for his efforts in climate change education and community service. His research interests include the impact of historical events—such as the Industrial Revolution—on the environment.

Mitch began life in the Midwest, growing up a barefoot boy in the Ozarks and attending high school in Branson, Missouri—before it became so famous. After spending a year as an exchange student in Chiang Mai, Thailand, he attended the University of Missouri, where he completed an undergrad degree in Fisheries and Wildlife. After college, he moved to Fairbanks, Alaska to attend graduate school. Mitch received a master’s degree in Stream Ecology and a doctorate in Soil Ecology during his 13 years in Alaska. There too, he met the lovely Rita Kabali, a native of
Uganda, East Africa, to whom he has now been married 36 years. They have two lively daughters, Rohanna 30 (a history teacher in New Haven) and Danika 22 (attending nursing school). They also recently welcomed their first grandchild, Leon, who is two years old.

Mitch enjoys—among other things—watching his grandson grow up and explaining climate change to the public.

Ph.D. Soil Ecology. August 1995. University of Alaska Fairbanks.
M.S. Stream Ecology. December, 1984. University of Alaska Fairbanks.
B.S. cum laude. Fisheries and Wildlife. May, 1981. University of Missouri, Columbia.




Dr. Laurie Weinstein is Professor Emeritus at WCSU Anthropology. Although she is retired, she still teaches for the Department and handles the Permaculture Garden logistics or everything from grant-writing to managing the student interns and networking with the food pantries in the Danbury region.   The Permaculture Garden was her initiative when she was Chair of the JGC.

When she is not working at WCSU, she is writing her books about Native England (Between Two Rivers and Two Wars: Western New England in the 18th century with Dr. Lucianne Lavin, for U of Arizona Press) and managing a major series for the U of Arizona Press.

Weinstein also started the Archaeology Program and CRM minor at WCSU and she still consults with state officers, local museums, and historical societies about regional culture history. In particular, she is active with the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT.

Dr. Weinstein has a lot of pets and helps to rehab small animals up in Massachusetts where she lives.



2020 Interns (Charla Beauvais, Astrid Sundberg, and Holly Pais)

JGC interns Charla (left) and Astrid (right) harvesting fresh greens

I’m Astrid Sundberg, a third-year Anthropology student at WCSU, focusing my studies around biology, environment, and nutrition. I was motivated largely by my professor, Dr. Misra, as well as our intriguing class discussions in ANT 398. I was surprised to hear how little some of my fellow classmates knew about our garden and how little my peers knew about healthy eating and cooking. My family and I have been fortunate enough to always have a garden and be able to harvest fresh herbs and vegetables. I hope to bring greater awareness on nutritional eating and demonstrate that gardening can be fun and easy.





My name is Holly Pais and I was born and raised in St. Albans, VT, surrounded by many agricultural farms. After a quick move to CT, I graduated from Danbury high school and went right to WCSU. I decided to work full time, after only one semester at WCSU. I worked in banking full time for almost ten years and decided to go back to my roots. I am currently a Junior and plan to graduate in 2021. After WCSU, I plan on attending UCONN for Its Plant Science Graduate program and finding a career in Agriculture, specifically organic vegetable growth. I love working in the Garden here at WCSU because it makes me feel at home. Being able to instantly identify plants makes me feel comfortable as a newbie. I can’t wait to see why the future holds here and look forward to this summer’s harvest!