Wednesday, August 8, 2012: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
A106, Oregon Convention Center
In this symposium, speakers will present specific proposals for the most important steps that ecology, as a discipline, must take to build the capacity necessary to address the complex problems set before our field by society. The session is designed to stimulate ecologists to discuss the proactive approaches we can take to maintain and increase the relevance of our discipline to society, as the landscape around us changes both figuratively and literally. Speakers in this session have been grappling with these issues in their various roles as leaders of the field, and several areas for the future of applied ecology will be explored.
We are challenged to find solutions to an increasing array of extremely complex environmental problems, linked through escalating energy and resource demands and decreasing resource supplies. In order for ecology to meet the challenges, rather than abdicating responsibility while other disciplines rise to meet them, our field must take a hard look in the mirror. We need to ask what aspects of our field are working well, where can we make improvements, and what structural aspects of our field need re-evaluation or improvement in the current social environment. Ecology has a central role to play in informing environmental policy and building an evidence-driven framework of human involvement in the natural world. If we are going to provide that framework, we need to ask for the resources required to do this well, speak honestly about what we can and cannot expect from our field, and consider what incentives and structures truly serve society. We should focus on maximizing our capacity to contribute actionable knowledge to complex problem sets, and eliminate incentives and structures that are outdated or self-serving.