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Laurentian Hosts Science and Humanities Forum on Extinction

Unique international symposium will combine philosophy, conservation biology

Photo of Polar BearNovember 6, 2013 – Conservation biology, increasing threats to habitat, and the growing list of species at risk are all on the agenda—alongside ethical and philosophical aspects of extinction—at a unique international symposium to be held at Laurentian University this month.   


“Thinking Extinction,”  November 14-16, will address and discuss a range of approaches to the crisis of mass extinction in an unprecedented gathering of leading thinkers, researchers and scientists from Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.  


The symposium is organized and hosted by Laurentian University’s Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation (CEEEC) and will include talks, panel discussions, roundtables and evening events dealing with numerous aspects of endangered species conservation.  The events are free and open to the public.


“The innovative aspect of our symposium is that it brings the humanities into what is typically treated as a scientific discussion,” said Laurentian University professor and Canada Research Chair in Applied Evolutionary Ecology, Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde.  “We think this approach recognizes that all of us are facing fundamental questions about our role in protecting the diversity of species on this planet, and we hope the symposium will add new dimensions to the conversation.”


On Friday, November 15th, Conservation Biologist Stuart Pimm will speak at a public plenary session entitled Extinctions: When, Where, How Fast, and What We Can Do to Stop Them.  Pimm, the Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke University and Chair of SavingSpecies.org, has worked on ecosystem restoration in the Everglades, the coastal forests of Brazil, and the savannas of southern Africa.


During the day’s proceeding’s on Friday, noted Canadian authors and wilderness advocates Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson will take part in a roundtable discussion on the future of endangered species conservation.   The curator of reproductive programs at the Toronto Zoo, Gabriela Mastromonaco, and Bridget Stuchbury, author and expert in threats to songbird populations, will also be part of Friday’s round-table.


Among the many topics to be covered during the conference, expert speakers will discuss the use of reproductive technology in efforts to preserve and even resurrect threatened or extinct species.  “People often think the idea of recreating the wooly mammoth in a lab is science fiction, but in fact the existing technology allows us to contemplate the revival of species that have vanished, “ said professor Brett Buchanan, Chair of the Philosophy Department at Laurentian University.   “This is but one of the potential solutions to our extinction crisis that opens up many of the philosophical questions we are exploring at the symposium.”


The full agenda for Thinking Extinction can be viewed at http://thinkingextinction.com/program/



About Laurentian University


Laurentian University is one of the fastest growing universities in Canada in the past decade, now serving close to 10,000 students. With its main campus in Sudbury, it now offers a growing number of programs in Barrie to the 1,200 students located on that campus. Laurentian has the highest post-graduation employment rates in Ontario after 6 months at 92% and 95% after two years. The University receives high recognition for its enviable class sizes, having one of the lowest average class sizes in Canada.