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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Debates and more environmental consciousness at the Greek Summer School

by Gábor Lövei

This year the novelty of the Greek Summer School was the organisation of two student debates. Half the participants were nominated  audience, and the remaining half formed two teams. After a morning theoretical introduction and discussion, the two teams had an afternoon to prepare their cases. One team supported, and the other one opposed the proposal “Invasion biology should be abandoned as a discipline, and replaced by redistribution biology”. Each team presented their case in 15 minutes, interrogated each other, followed fielding questions form the audience. The debate formally ended with a vote. Even though the proposing team mounted a determined and spirited support of their case, the majority voted not to accept the proposal, and keeping invasion biology as a discipline. For the second debate day, the former audience became the debating teams, and the proposal was that “The aim of conservation biology is to ensure the continued functioning of ecosystem services for humans”. A similarly lively debate was held around this proposal, too, but this also suffered the fate of defeat as the first one. In both cases, the discussion continued in the local bar, into the late hours of the night. Both debates were hugely enjoyed by the participants, and debates will certainly remain on the program of future GSSs.

This year was the 8th occasion that the Greek Summer School was held, and the third one at the Palase Field Station in Ano Pedina. The Organising Commitee has decided that it is time to do as we preach, and several steps were taken to reduce our environmental footprint. Participants were encouraged not to fly to Ioannina but take a bus either from Athens of Thessaloniki, and to consider using a carbon offset program.

Locally, we almost totally abandoned the use of plastic, recycled what we used, also recycled paper, cardboard and glass, drank tap water rather than bottled water, sourced what we could of our food from local producers, and cut down on eating meat – one main meal every day was a vegetarian meal. All this was well received by the students and is set to continue and expand.


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