The Impact of Ecologists in Higher Education Administration in Promoting Ecoliteracy, Ecological Research and Sustainability in the 21st Century
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
310, Baltimore Convention Center
Kenneth M. Klemow
Solving the current and continuously emerging environmental problems of the 21st century requires a diverse ecological workforce with educational and research training that is focused on critical issues, including energy conservation, food resource sustainability, climate change impacts, ecosystem services, disease ecology, and is responsive to the world’s developing environmental crises. Colleges and universities, public and private, have recognized the impact their educational, research and networking activities can have in proactive efforts to tackle these global environmental challenges. Colleges of all sizes, public and private, are signing the President’s Climate Challenge Commitment to improve energy conservation efforts and develop comprehensive “green campus” initiatives. Recently, 30 universities signed on to the Alliance for Resilient Campuses in Climate Adaptation, the latest national effort to increase networking capacity, and continue developing higher education institutions that are resilient and can take needed action to respond to climate change impacts on critical resources such as water, energy and transportation, as well as on health, recreation and land use. Colleges and universities are engaging their faculty, staff and students in partnerships with community businesses, faith organizations, social service agencies and civic groups to enhance their students’ overall ability to contribute expertise to tackling local and global environmental problems. However, at a time when global interest in environmental issues is growing, ensuring a growing job market for ecologists, inclusion of needed ecological principles in the curriculum is still been challenged. Ecologists need to continue to promote integrated, interdisciplinary initiatives that incorporate a sustainability focus in research, education and business partnerships to provide new ways to prepare the ecoliterate citizens needed.
Many administrators in higher education are ecologists and are already playing an important role in promoting development of curricular and research programs, community and school partnerships and green campus initiatives that supply the ecological knowledge and skills, and real-world experiences needed for a robust ecological workforce.
In this session we will assess how higher education is responding to world environmental education and research needs, showcase existing best practices nationally and make recommendations for needed expansion of efforts to meet the environmental problem-solving needs of the 21st century. Presidents, provosts, deans and directors of higher education institutions and initiatives will showcase current best practices and what needs to be done in the near future to develop the ecological expertise needed to meet the current needs, and to predict and prepare for impending environmental challenges of this century.