Dr. Roberta Bondar landed at UTM on March 26 for an environment lecture attended by approximately two hundred people. Hosted by the UTM Student Union (UTMSU), the event was the final presentation of the Green Project, led by UTMSUs Ministry of Environment.
Dr. Bondar completed her Ph. D in neurobiology at UTM in 1974 and was the first neurologist, not to mention Canadas first female astronaut, to go into outer space in 1992.
Bondar was introduced by UTMSUs VP University Affairs, Marijana Josifovska, who commended Bondar for being named one of the best explorers by Time Magazine in 2003 and for holding 24 honorary degrees from North American universities, among numerous other awards.
Many students regarded the lecture as a valuable learning experience not to be missed. You often learn more with these types of lectures; they are more inspiring, said Nada Hamod, a fourth-year management and geology student.
Bondar did not disappoint, showcasing her photography of the earth from outer space along with a selection from her photo-essay books of Canada and other locations worldwide. Remember, the initial [goal of space exploration] was we want to go to the moon, we want to go someplace else, explained Bondar. Yet when we get there, theres nothing as spectacular as the mosaic of our own planet.
She also emphasized the importance of continuous learning throughout life, and the art of pulling together all learning experiences to understand the world from a more broadbased perspective. This approach is especially pertinent when considering climate change and global warming.
Id like to give you a different view, Bondar began. I want to talk to you about the conundrum we are facing which is: what is humanderived and what is natural phenomenon? Im not going to be able to solve this for you tonight; Im going to talk to you about some of the things that I believe in, that Ive seen from space that allow me to think and to read more widely.
Bondar stressed that there is no clear cut answer towards determining if certain acts are either good or bad for the environment. The problem is, it is much more complex than that, Bondar stated.
Although Bondar acknowledged that the complexity of the earth gives no definite answers pertaining to environmental changes, she didnt shy away from reminding those in attendance that they need to be active and involved in protecting the planet. We need to have the courage to look out, to find new ideas, new solutions, she encouraged, adding that we need people to try to become, not just great observers of our planet, but people who are innovative and creative.
When asked about her thoughts on current efforts to address issues such as global warming, Bondar said that she was not satisfied, but that she has faith that change is possible. I believe in people so much, I believe in the positive aspect of human beings so much, or I wouldnt be here. The environment is something we all share. Weve seen some change. We need to see more.
Brandon MacDonald, associate to Josifovska and a member of the Ministry of Environment, said the evening was a success although he had hoped that the attendance would have been higher. Roberta Bondar provided a different perspective on the environment, [one] that brought light to new issues — Ill take a lot of this with me, said MacDonald.
A Ministry of Environment volunteer and second-year economics student, Shafi Viquar, captured the importance of environmental awareness. If you are concerned about [the environment], you will do what you can to contribute to the solution, said Viquar. I want to know more about environmental issues; its my future.