A new generation

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I've just finished yesterday (just on time, as usual!) grading the final assignment of undergrads from the "Université du Québec à Rimouski" for a fall session class entitled "Functioning of Marine Ecosystems".

And yesterday something stroke me. When I was producing a report (not so long ago) supposed to describe the patterns and processes prevailing in a marine ecosystem, I had David Attenborough's voice in my head chanting "The sun shines relentlessly over the blue sea, providing a tremendous amount of energy capable of moving water masses and make microscopic life bloom..."

But I think that my students heard a David Suzuki of some sort warning "There is an urgent need to describe and understand the current state of the marine ecosystem in order to face the impacts of global change and the ever increasing human pressure over the ocean..."

The vast majority of those 20 pages reports supposed to describe some specific marine ecosystems (The Gulf of Maine, the Baltic etc) were presented that way, to the point where some almost lost sight of the purpose of the assignment and spent more pages listing the current threats to their systems than characterizing its state and dynamics.

During the past session we had a variety of lectures and discussions, they did several presentations on various relevant topics. I did my best to put forth a balanced approach, but these students definitely learned ecology in a context radically different from what prevailed until the end of the last century. Canadian Conservative Ministers of natural resources will have to learn living with those new "radicals"!

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It reminds me of the "Ecology" section at the bookstore: tons of books on the state of the planet or recycling, very little about how the planet works. I've noticed a similar vein of thinking among my non-graduate students. They have a lot of passion and awareness of the issues, but they often seem to think this substitutes for scientific understanding.

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This page contains a single entry by Frederic Maps published on January 13, 2012 1:46 PM.

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