Wednesday, August 6, 2008 - 10:10 AM

SYMP 12-5: Ecological literacy as currency for innovation

Dayna Baumeister, The Biomimicry Guild

Background/Question/Methods The Ecological Society of America (ESA), like many political societies or countries, has its own "currency."  For the ESA, this is the knowledge we have gained about ecological systems. Our ecological currency is valuable in supporting further research, in providing content for educational endeavors, and arguably for promoting the health and well-being of humans on this planet. This last value is grounds for an ecologically literate public and many initiatives around ecological literacy state that without an ecological understanding one will suffer. As a motivational approach, this tactic has limited long term appeal. As an alternative, we can motivate others to become ecologically literate by demonstrating the value of our currency for and in other societies. We should be able to exchange this "knowledge-based" currency from one that is a valuable resource to ESA to one that has value as a resource in other "societies." This presentation will introduce tangible examples showing how a knowledge of ecological systems is driving innovation and creating a demand for ecological literacy in societies such as Engineering, Industrial Design, Architecture, Materials Science, Information Technology, and Business.

Results/Conclusions The result of these efforts include sustainable innovations, ecologically literate non-biology professionals, a demand (with funding!) for more relevant and practical knowledge, and ultimately a trend towards a more sustainable society.