Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Linking Universities and Bioshpere Reserves: Creating a Global Bio-Medical & Society Living Laboratory

Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Linking Universities and Bioshpere Reserves: Creating a Global Bio-Medical & Society Living Laboratory

Article excerpt

Abstract

The richness of opportunities for research and instruction inherent in the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (MAB) reserve is duplicated in varying degrees in each of the 425 MAB UNESCO Biosphere Reserves around the world. The challenge is to formulate and test pedagogical models which will best utilize these rich resources for on-line teaching, research and policy development. The Global University System (GUS) has proposed as part of its future program the linking of several selected, paired universities and biosphere reserves to serve as demonstrations of how best to realize the enormous potential for web-based environmental learning presented by the MAB Network and the GUS.

Introduction

Through the emerging sophistication and transportability of information technology, an extraordinary opportunity now exists to link faculty and students from major universities to the international network of biosphere reserves, creating a global living laboratory. The UNESCO-MAB global network of biosphere reserves and the emerging Global University System network can provide the institutional framework to realize this extraordinary opportunity.

UNESCO Man And the Biosphere Program (MAB) The Biosphere Network

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Its headquarters is in Paris and its work is done through 73 field offices. UNESCO was created in 1946 and currently has 188 member states. UNESCO promotes collaboration among nations in education, science, culture, and communications. Among its key work areas are expanding educational opportunities, protecting world heritage sites, developing a global network of protected biosphere reserves, developing reliable world scientific standards and statistics, and promoting freedom of expression and human rights (http://www.unesco.org/).

The Man And Biosphere program was launched by UNESCO in 1970 to facilitate intergovernmental cooperation in fostering harmonious relations between humans and the biosphere (http://www.unesco.org/mab/. MAB was the first deliberate international initiative to find ways to achieve sustainable development. The Program's broad goal is "to develop the basis within the natural and social sciences for rational use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of the global relationship between man and the environment: to predict the consequences of today's actions on tomorrow's world and thereby to increase man's ability to manage efficiently the natural resources of the biosphere" (UNESCO 1971). This Program created the mechanism to establish an international network of biosphere reserves representing major biogeographical regions, including gradations of human interventions. Three basic functions of biosphere reserves are as follows:

* To contribute to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variations.

* To foster ecologically, socially and culturally sustainable development.

* To provide logistical support for environmental education, training, demonstration projects, monitoring and research related to local, regional, national and global issues of conservation and sustainable development.

It is the third function to which this chapter is directed. The biosphere reserves must include a core-protected area of sufficient size and configuration to achieve the above objectives. The core area provides important opportunities for conservation, long-term observational studies and environmental education and serves as a regional benchmark of ecological health. In addition, buffer zones are defined that typically adjoin or surround core areas to demonstrate sustainable development practices. As of May 2002, there are 425 international biosphere reserves in 95 countries. These reserves occur on every continent and in a wide variety of biogeographic regions. The social-cultural-economic setting varies dramatically as does the human imprint on the biosphere reserves. …

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