The Emerging Ecological Paradigm of Agriculture and Scholarship
Xenia K. Morin, Associate Dean, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
More than 100 students, faculty, staff, and visitors heard presentations by Executive Dean Bob Goodman and Associate Dean Xenia Morin on the “Emerging Ecological Paradigm of Agriculture and Scholarship” in the 2012 Karl Maramorosch Lecture on January 31, 2012.
The Maramorosch lecture is the annual graduate seminar sponsored by the Department of Entomology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. This year’s event was organized by Professor Mark Robson. Karl Maramorosch is an award-winning scientist and a longtime member of the Entomology faculty. At age 97, he still actively authors books and articles and is a highly sought speaker at international conferences.
Morin’s talk focused on the ecology of agriculture, addressing current challenges faced by the industry – such as urbanization, changing land uses, greenhouse gas emissions, and the need to find a sustainable way to feed the world’s population, which is estimated by reach nine billion by the year 20150. She then shared some of the advancements that are addressing the challenges.
Goodman introduced the concept of “understanding modern scholarship by looking at it through the lens of ecology,” which we more customarily use to understand biology and ecosystems. He reflected on the progression of university scholarship, from isolated endeavors in times past to more collaborative and cross-disciplinary approaches to discovery. He noted that just as there is increasingly a systems-approach to agriculture, so too there is a similar ecological (based on ecosystems – or groups of living organisms) approach to scientific innovation. He then turned the discussion to Maramorosch’s influence on the ecology of scholarship.
In 2011, Dr. Maramorosch wrote: "The striking progress in the study of phytoplasmas…clearly illustrates the benefits derived from collaboration between experts working in different countries, from free exchanges of information, and from participating in symposia and congresses." What was not stated was the important role that Maramorosch himself played in creating an "ecology of scholarship" within the scientific community through his own collaborations, editorial work and engagement of faculty. Goodman related his introduction to and experience with Maramorosch's ecology of scholarship and how it influenced Goodman's own thinking about research and collaboration. His comments were followed by reflections offered by Randy Gaugler, Director of the Center for Vector Biology, and a close colleague of Maramorosch.
A videotape of the lecture will soon be posted soon.