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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Lecture focuses on being good stewards of the coastal and marine environment

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Narragansett, RI -- March 30, 2004 -- Although much is written and said about the importance of protecting our environment, a recent United Nations Report focuses on threats to the earth’s ecosystems and warns that there needs to be major changes in the management of the world’s resources. The study maintains that the sustainability of ecosystems must be recognized as essential to human life.

One way to help preserve the environment is for people to become stewards, people who ensure the care of resources to preserve and protect them for future generations.

To learn about stewardship, the public is invited to attend a Friends of Oceanography Lecture entitled "Learning to Be Good Stewards of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems," given by Steven B. Olsen, Director, URI Coastal Resources Center. The lecture will take place on Thursday, April 8, at noon in the Coastal Institute Auditorium on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett.

"The living planet is now in a new period in its evolution, a geological age recently dubbed the Anthropocene," said Olsen. "We live in a time when the activities of the dominant species (man) is a primary force shaping shifts in the ecology of the planet as a whole. It is a period characterized by great uncertainties and many contradictions. While many speak of working towards ‘sustainable’ forms of development, we in fact appear to be hurtling toward ever less sustainable conditions. The divisions between the haves and the have-nots are growing."

Olsen’s lecture will consider the expressions of the Anthropocene in the coastal regions that already contain half the world's people on 15% of the inhabited land space. In a time of unprecedented change, we need to learn how we can efficiently adapt to new societal and environmental conditions. Simple tools for gauging progress will be presented. Since the implementation of necessary actions all require behavioral change, these are topics which sooner or later affect us all.

A resident of South Kingstown, Olsen received his B.A. in biology from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and his M.S. in biological oceanography from the University of Rhode Island. As the Director of the URI Coastal Resources Center Olsen conducts research on the governance of coastal ecosystems; the formulation, application and refinement of coastal management initiatives in both wealthy, politically stable nations and low income nations in the tropics; the integration of the best available knowledge on how ecosystems function with participatory and adaptive governance; building institutional capacity to address anthropogenic change to coastal ecosystems.

His outreach program directs long term projects in coastal management in the U.S. and a number of developing nations. He teaches international training courses for professionals drawn from both the social and national sciences.

Established in 1985 to support and promote the activities of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, Friends of Oceanography informs and educates the membership and the general public about the scientific, technological, and environmental research that takes place at GSO. The organization sponsors public lectures, open houses, marine-related mini-courses, science cruises on Narragansett Bay, and an annual auction. For information about Friends of Oceanography, call 874-6602.