9/11/2007:

stevens-institute-hoboken-logo.gifThe Center for Science Writings (CSW) at Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken just announced its schedule of presentations for fall 2007. Wait a second, you didn’t know that there was a Center for Science Writings?

The Center for Science Writings was formed in 2005 in an effort to stress the importance of writing and communication in science. John Horgan, the Director of the CSW, is the author of books several books including Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality and the recipient of numerous prestigious awards such as 2005 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellowship in Science and Religion and the American Psychiatric Association Certificate of Commendation of Outstanding Reporting on Psychiatric Issues.

The CSW has a lecture series each semester where guest speakers – prestigious scientists such as Edward O. Wilson and Steven Pinker – discuss cutting-edge research and issues in science. The first guest speaker this year will be, Chris Mooney, a correspondent for SEED magazine. Mooney will be discussing his latest book Storm World tomorrow, Wednesday, September 12 at 4:00 PM.

About the latest hurricanes, politics and global warming fears, Chris says: “neither outright alarmism nor dismissive skepticism are warranted. Rather, taking the limited information that we have and making the most of it should lead to a stance of cautious, well-informed concern. Further research — or, perhaps, more mega-hurricanes — may seal the issue. But meanwhile, given how much we have at stake, we should already be moving to prepare and protect ourselves — even as we remain fully open to new evidence.” This event will take place in the Babbio Center, Room 122.

Sounds like an interesting discussion!

Please click on the link below to continue reading an excerpt of last semester’s final lecture, during which Edward O. Wilson received the “Green Award”.

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Green Scientist Gets Green Award


Students, professors and gathered at Bissinger Auditorium of Stevens Institute of Technology late Wednesday afternoon to attend the speech Conversation: Science & Religion by Edward O. Wilson. The auditorium was abuzz with excited chatter before the event. But who wouldn’t be enthused at the opportunity to see Wilson speak in person? Wilson’s position among the elite in the scientific community is sacrosanct.

But Wilson’s visit to Stevens was no surprise. The Center for Science Writings at Stevens invited the two time Pulitzer Prize Winner and world renowned Harvard entomologist to Hoboken so he can receive the institute’s yearly award in scientific literature: The Green Book Award.

John Horgan – Director of The Center for Science Writings at Stevens, himself a science writer with best selling publications such as Rational Mysticism: Dispatches from the Border Between Science and Spirituality – decided to bestow Wilson with the award. Horgan, who is attuned to the “green movement”, decided to create a book award that will be given to works which address environmental issues because no such prize exists for scientific literature. And Horgan decided that Wilson, whose book The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth was published last September, would be the perfect fit for the center’s first green accolade. “Reverence to life permeates the book,” says Horgan.

“Stevens is turning green,” said Horgan at the opening of his address. He briefly explained that a “Green Engineering program” is being launched and that students are utilizing solar, wind, and tidal energy in environmentally friendly projects. But Horgan, who is admittedly a huge fan of Wilson said, “but today is our greenest event yet.”

Wilson was awarded a plaque, as well as a $5000 award sponsored by Turner Construction, for The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth. In the book, Wilson calls upon the religious to take action and save life on Earth. He is an ideal candidate for initiating dialogue with evangelicals because of his Southern Alabama roots. His book takes the form of a letter to an imaginary pastor.

But Wilson’s book is different from those which other scientists have written about religion and the environment: his tone is kind. About 42% of the people living in the United States are evangelicals, and he believes that most of them care about saving the environment. And he took the monumental task of building a relationship with this massive community upon himself. “This is not the time to be divided,” he says. “Let’s put aside what divides us.”

Wilson explains that he chose to address evangelicals because of what he calls “the New York effect.” “If you can make it in New York, then you can make it anywhere,” he says. “And if I started with Unitarians, people would’ve said ‘easy victory Wilson’”.

“Ed Wilson has excelled in so many rounds,” says Horgan. Wilson is the recipient of the Crawfoord Prize, an award which is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for ecology. “Wilson is the authority on social evolutionary biology,” says Horgan. “It is how human behavior can be explained in evolutionary terms,” he explains.

“We’re just beginning to study ants,” Wilson told Horgan during a recent conversation. Wilson is the authority on ants. At 77 years old, he is a tall, wiry man, with a slightly hunched upper back, perhaps due to years of studying ants. Ants have been his lifelong passion ever since a fishing accident at the age of 7 ruined his eyesight. He is still preoccupied with naming the tiny creatures, having coined a recent species the “porky pine ant.”

Wilson, who is extremely active in the scientific and political community despite his age, sometimes finds himself attending meetings in different states in one day. On Wednesday, the day of the Green Award ceremony, he attended a meeting in Washington D.C before flying to New Jersey. His flight was long delayed, but when he spoke to the audience that gathered, his Southern, gentlemanly voice reverberated with excitement for his future projects.

Wilson spent the morning planning the creation of the “Encyclopedia of Life” with other scientists. The Encyclopedia of Life will be a public access electronic database with a page for each of the millions of species on our planet. He believes that this open access database will enable scientists and students to make faster and more frequent connections between biological phenomena. “We are living on a little known planet,” says Wilson. “We have all the reasons to move ahead and add a second dimension.”

Nazmiye Dinc, a senior at Stevens, was one of the enthusiastic students to attend Wilson’s lecture. She is proud of the steps that the university is taking to become an environmentally friendly place. She believes that “the creation of the Green Book Award is especially great because it’s making the public more aware about being environmentally conscious”.

Wilson appears enthusiastic that his book initiated dialogue with the evangelical community. “There is a sense of relief on the part of evangelicals that a scientist could offer a path to friendship,” he says. And although there is a broad spectrum of evangelical political beliefs, “once the country goes from brown to green, there is no turning back,” says Wilson.