Climate change named No. 1 world crisis by Cornell faculty.
Subject: Climatic changes (Management)
Interdisciplinary research (Management)
Pub Date: 11/01/2008
Publication: Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069
Issue: Date: Nov, 2008 Source Volume: 36 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Organization: Organization: Cornell University
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 231021633
Full Text: A new study surveying Cornell's academic staff on the world's leading crises found that the No. 1 problem is climate change--a phenomenon not easily reversed. But there's another important problem that's much easier to impact: insufficient education in science and critical thinking.

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Visiting fellow Derek Cabrera, PhD '07, a former postdoctoral researcher in the policy analysis and management department, was the lead author on the study, which was published online in Frontiers e-View and will be published in the journal, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

According to the study, almost 300 Cornell faculty members identified the three most important world problems as climate change, corporations having too much influence in governing, and a lack of long-term perspective in political, environmental, and social actions.

The most solvable critical problems? After insufficient education in science, critical thinking, and environmental issues, the Cornell faculty rated the epidemic of preventable illnesses in the. Third World and inequitable access to health care as most solvable.

"These results should provide useful practical information for setting interdisciplinary research and policy agendas to address these global crises," said Cabrera, who is CEO of the Ithaca-based company Think Works. "The world's problems don't adhere to disciplinary boundaries, so it is important to understand how scientists from different disciplines view these problems because we will need interdisciplinary teams to solve them."

The study used "concept mapping"--developed at Cornell in the late 1980s by Cornell professor of policy analysis and management William Trochim--that uses brainstorming, multidimensional sorting, and rating to summarize how a group conceptualizes a topic.

Co-authors James Mandel, Jason Andras, and Marie Nydam are doctoral students in Cornell's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. They teamed up with Cabrera after they had helped organize the course the State of the Planet under the mentorship of faculty members Tom Eisner and Mary Lou Zeeman.

The course, which was offered at Cornell the past two springs, is an interdisciplinary approach to studying the status of the Earth and the crises it faces. The survey is part of an ongoing follow-up to the course. You can learn more at www.whatisthecrisis.org.
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