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The open course - ULB, 25 February 2011

Sciences and arts responding together to the water and biodiversity emergency 


Who says water, says food, says health, says healthy and biodiverse ecosystems, says prosperous communities inland and on the coast. Extinction rates of species are currently estimated at 1000 times natural average levels. For freshwater fish, man-made changes in natural ecosystems are the most important drivers of extinction.

In the sea it is overfishing, though until a few decades ago, most people believed that the vastness of the oceans were inexhaustible. But climate change and pollution are becoming more important too.

According to Birdlife International (2010) 1,227 bird species, constituting 12.4 per cent of the 9,865 different bird species in the world are under threat of extinction.

Many scientific results are published and available, but that does not mean that they automatically lead to action. How can citizens get a better sense of research results? What can artists do that scientists can not? How to develop a shared understanding that enables action?

In the open course of Prof. Jacques van Helden, the Mundus maris team will perform a multi-actor intervention to address the problems from different angles and engage the public not only in sharing the diagnosis of the emergency situation, but also in what can be done to remedy it. The team is composed of:


Dr. Cornelia E. Nauen, ecologist based in Brussels, Belgium

Prof. Stella Williams, agricultural economist, Nigeria

Carla Zickfeld, artist and aesthetic operator living in Italy

Dr. Aliou Sall, socio-anthropologist, Senegal

The open course was co-organised with SEDIF from 8h to 10h in the Auditorium UD2.218A, Solbosch Campus, Building U, Entry D, 2nd floor. Click here for the map.