Author Topic: Problems with higher education 6. Key issues 1  (Read 7166 times)


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Problems with higher education 6. Key issues 1
« on: January 03, 2012, 09:18:38 AM »
Problems with higher education 6. Key issues 1
By Dr. Flor Lacanilao

This is a continuation of the Higher Education’s Role in Adapting to a Changing Climate. Its key issues are recurring topics in my posts, and I don’t see them getting resolved during the rest of my lifetime.

“Colleges and universities face clear and growing risks from climate disruption, and it is critical that presidents, trustees and those with fiduciary responsibility for these institutions be aware of these risks.”

After the recent climate disasters that hit the country, higher education officials are now aware of the scale and urgency of more threats from changing climate.  But are they prepared to take appropriate adaptation actions, like “through education, research, operations, and community engagement efforts?”

They can learn from the report of the “American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment” mentioned above, and the subject of my earlier post. The report was prepared through the contributions of 11 college and university officials, including 4 presidents, From the group composition, field of expertise, research track record, and academic functions, a lot can be learned by our higher education officials (see Table below of publications I prepared; also attached).

Note, for instance, that the interdisciplinary team is composed of published academics in natural and social sciences and humanities. Note further, that those published in the social sciences and humanities combined outnumber those in the natural sciences 6 to 4.

I spent some time preparing this table of published academics to find some information useful for adaptation to the climate-related disasters—floods and landslides in particular—that have caused many lives and suffering among our poor communities. Information we need are the causes and appropriate actions “through education, research, operations, and community engagement efforts” emphasized in the mentioned report.

The table shows the important role of published researchers in the social sciences and humanities—6 out of 10—in adaptation to changing climate. This important role of social scientists is also seen in the 19-author Science article (Policy Forum), Preparing for Resettlement Associated with Climate Change, I cited in an earlier post.

The table also shows the importance of putting the right people in charge—4 college and university scientist-presidents, 3 of whom are in the social sciences and humanities. A closer look at the table and footnotes will give more useful information to a serious and qualified person in-charge.

For instance, the two top scientists in the team—Overpeck and Mills—are respectively physical and biological scientists, who provide the explanations on the causes and effects of climate change. And with Google Scholar, Overpeck is seen as a top climate scientist, who has 11 papers in Science, 9 in Nature, and 4 in PNAS, mostly as sole and first author (I stopped counting the rest of his numerous published papers).

One last point on the table, note that Nilda Mesa, assistant Vice President for Environmental Stewardship, Columbia University, is the only unpublished member of the group. I couldn’t find any valid publications with Google Scholar, although a simple Google search gave thousands of entries, including those showing popular speaking engagements on education and environment issues. She must be in the team for some important reasons.

With the right people put in charge of important problems, we can expect the solutions we urgently need. But what do we get from commentaries by nonscientists and unpublished academics about recent floods and landslides? They are largely blaming denuded forests. Qualified geologists I know have other explanation, which point to numerous uprooted trees, after continuous heavy rainfall, carried down along with massive landslides.
An example of commentaries by those without the subject expertise are seen in this week’s “Talk of the Town” features in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Building resilience and adaptation and Business risks and climate change: New iteration.

You will notice, in most commentaries we get from our major dailies—about reform in education and science, or climate change—are by those who have not made any major contributions to one’s field, unlike those that can be seen in the table here (below or attached).

Hence, they lack the necessary expertise to evaluate information correctly, and fail to mention or discuss the basic causes and culprits of problems, foremost of which is failure to put the right people in change.

And since discussing causes and culprits will need a search with Web of Knowledge or Google Scholar (as I have explained before and have done in preparing the Table), this would reveal the author’s lack of credibility on the subject.

Are we going to see more of this kind of largely entertainment pieces? Needed changes can hardly be expected from the CHED, DOST, NAST, or from the climate commission, the top officials of which lack the essential requirement for the job, as previously discussed in this forum.

And if UP Diliman, the top university in the country and headed by our top physical scientist, again fails to lead and to do its job, the next generations will see more severe devastation and victims.

aAll publications are in ISI-indexed journals covered in SSCI, AHCI,    or SCI;  obtained with Google Scholar on 26-30 Dec 2011.  Only a partial list is shown for those with numerous publications. ISI, Institute for Scientific Information;  SSCI, Social Sciences Citation Index;
AHCI, Arts and Humanities Citation Index;  SCI, Science Citation Index.
b( ), number  of papers with sole or first authorship.

Contributors and university functions of those who contributed to the report, Higher Education’s Role in Adapting to a Changing Climate:
 1. John Mills,                  President,   Paul Smith’s College of Arts and Sciences
 2. John M. Anderson         President,   Alfred State College
 3. David A. Caruso       President,   Antioch University
 4. John J. Sbrega           President,   Bristol Community College
 5. Jonathan Overpeck       Co-Director, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona
 6. Julian Agyeman        Department Chair, urban & environmental planning, Tufts University
 7. Elisabeth Hamin            Assoc Professor of Regional Planning, University of Massachusetts
 8. Peter Bardaglio             Director, County Climate Protection Initiative, former Provost, Ithaca      
 9. Lynne Carter               Director, Adaptation Network, Louisiana State University
10. James Buizer                Director for climate adaptation, University of Arizona
11. Nilda Mesa               Assist Vice President for Environmental Stewardship, Columbia University 

Dr. Flor Lacanilao obtained both his BS and MS in Zoology from the University of the Philippines in Diliman and his PhD, with specialization in comparative endocrinology, from the University of California at Berkeley. He served as professor and chairman of the Zoology Department at UP Diliman and chancellor of UP Visayas. He made pioneering discoveries in neuroendocrinology and led the research group that achieved the first spontaneous breeding of milkfish in captivity.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 05:18:53 PM by Joe Carillo »


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Re: Problems with higher education 6. Key issues 1
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 10:30:34 AM »
Fascinating information. Thanks indeed.


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Re: Problems with higher education 6. Key issues 1
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2012, 03:34:03 PM »
Higher education will encounter many difficulties !
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