Last summer, we held the first Acanac Scholarship Contest and asked students across Ontario and Quebec to let us know how High Speed Internet has impacted their field of study by either writing a short essay or sharing a video with us on our Facebook or Twitter pages for a chance to win $1,000. We were so impressed with the response that we decided to give our contest finalists a platform to share their thoughts with all of our customers and fans. The last in our series, features a thought-provoking conversation we had with Shanaz, an Environmental Management student at York University. We talked about her program, the relationship between science and pop culture, and got her thoughts on the environment and what we should be concerned and optimistic about in the future.
Our Chat with Shanaz about Environmental Management
Acanac: Hi Shanaz, congratulations on being selected as one of our contest finalists for your essay about how High Speed Internet is changing the field of Environmental Management. For those of us less familiar, can you tell us a little about what this field is all about?
Shanaz: It can be a lot of different things, I guess it depends on areas of interest. You could be involved in renewable energy, land use and planning or environmental remediation, such as helping after an oil spill or some other type of environmental disaster by doing an impact assessment. It can be in a lot of different types of streams as well. You could even work with government on urban planning… there are many different routes one could take.
Acanac: You sound very passionate about it. Was choosing this program a difficult choice or was it your calling from the beginning?
Shanaz: I think for me, I just have a natural love and appreciation for the environment., There are many options, but my research led me to this program at York and it immediately stood out to me. I liked that there was a balance between dealing with real world environmental issues and the social impact of those issues. I really wanted to merge my interest in those social issues with the environmental side of things.
Acanac: That makes a lot of sense. In your essay, you talk about the availability of data online and how it’s made things easier for those attempting to educate and motivate the public into action. Do you feel the scientific community is doing an effective job of communicating their findings to the public?
Shanaz: I think yes and no. A lot of the information available online is for people who want to do research-based work. So, it’s great that it’s online and available for anyone to use, but it might be good to have more information out there for people to know what to do with it, more in layman’s terms. There’s lots going on right now such as citizen scientists coming out and doing their own independent work to help researchers in various communities. I think, scientists overall are doing a good job, but it could be better in terms of making it more accessible and easier to interpret.
Acanac: Some have pointed out that it’s much more difficult for scientists to get the notoriety they once used to enjoy. Scientists and astronauts used to be celebrated like rock stars. How do you effectively reach the public with so many different sources competing for their attention?
Shanaz: Well, social media really helps to amplify scientists. You have someone like Neil deGrasse Tyson, a very popular astrophysicist or Bill Nye the Science Guy with his shows in the 90’s. They were involved in introducing young kids to the field of science and just getting it out there. So, there is still some of that rock star quality but I think it’s more subdued now.
Acanac: Stephen Hawking is kind of rock star too for sure. Ok, Shanaz. Putting you on the spot here: What environmental issue should our readers be most concerned about, and which one should they be the most optimistic about in your opinion?
Shanaz: I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone by saying that the one to be the most concerned about right now is climate change. I think on the world stage, governments need to be taking it a lot more seriously and policy needs to catch up to where we’re at right now. I think especially in the Canadian context, we could be doing a lot better at providing incentives to green energy businesses to help them get a better footing. We should just make that the new way forward and divest ourselves of fossil fuels that are having a negative effect on the environment.
Now, the one to be the most optimistic about is in parallel with everything I just pointed out; the development of renewable energy. I think that’s something that is really evolving, lots of businesses are becoming more mindful about sustainability and trying to adapt their business models around incorporating that type of thinking into the decisions they make. Green business is really something to get excited about and something that makes me very optimistic about the future.
Acanac: Great stuff. Is there anything else that you’d like our community to take away from your essay and our conversation today?
Shanaz: Well, I hope that people who read this will become curious about seeking out information and educate themselves so they can become more aware of their ecologic footprint and the impact it has on our environment.
Acanac: Thank you Shanaz, we certainly learned a lot today and wish you all the best in everything you do.
Shanaz: Your welcome and thanks for the opportunity.
If you missed any of the previous installments in our series you can go to our Blog and catch up anytime. Don’t forget to also stay in the loop with all the other cool stuff we’re up to by Liking our Facebook Page or Following us on Twitter.
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