Honors symposium focuses on environment

More than 100 honors students participated in the semi-annual Honors Symposium this weekend, which included group presentations and lectures by experts concerning world environmental concerns.

Titled “The Ecological Challenge: Pollution, Protection, Controversy,” Honors Program Director Peter Rollberg said this fall’s symposium followed a different format from past years. He said he invited three speakers instead of the usual one, allowing all three panelists to interact with one another during lectures.

Students listened to lectures by Harvard biologist Dr. Edward Wilson, former Environmental Protection Agency lawyer Eric Schaeffer and professor J.R. McNeill.

“They communicated with each other and with students,” Rollberg said, noting that he thought this symposium was particularly successful as the panelists were able “give a multi-dimensional view of this phenomenon.”

“Symposium means drinking and talking together,” he said. “We try to shape it in a way where we have more reaction with a lecture and discussion component . not just listening to one speaker.”

Wilson discussed bio-diversity and the current project to discover all known species in the next 25 years.

He called the future of life bleak, noting that one-quarter of one percent of all species go extinct every year. He attributed human actions with the acronym H.I.P.P.O.; habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, population growth and over-harvesting as reasons for the negative outlook.

Wilson criticized the Bush administration and urged students to protest current government environmental policies.

Honors students are required to either participate in the symposium or take an honors class each semester, but Rollberg said he would like to see the approximately 820 honors student participate in the symposium in addition to taking classes.

Students participate in breakout sessions after lectures and are required to write an essay following the symposium.

-Ian Thomson contributed to this report

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