Friday September 29, 2017

Book Learnin'

Over my University of Dayton MyLife student blogging tenure, I have written about an array of topics stretching from the goofiest of goobers in UD’s On the Fly improvisational show, to multiple fields of academic research, to getting rowdy in the Red Scare student section. But I have never blogged about a significant part of why I attend the University of Dayton at all. What is missing from my blogging repertoire, you may ask? Gee, I don’t know, how about SCHOOL? Who woulda thunk?

As a senior Environmental Biology major, I am currently enrolled in upper level biology classes oriented towards the environment, surprisingly enough. Rather than providing a general overview of my course load, I will highlight three of my current studies. First is ecological restoration, which is any type of project or initiative to remedy significantly changed or damaged ecosystems to a more natural state. The next question would be, “What is a natural state?” The answer to that question is not simple, but it is certainly prudent for human beings to work towards returning the environment to a state in which we found it, or somewhere near it. Perhaps the way we found it isn’t natural itself, but placing prodigious parking lots over wetlands is certainly a step in an unnatural direction, and ecological restoration aims to begin the movement toward how to best restore the natural earth from pejorative anthropogenic impact.

Another of my current courses is environmental ethics, which I quite frankly am not certain how to describe. Similar to other philosophy courses I’ve taken at UD, my mind is blown almost every class. For example, one of our recent readings refuted the commonly held human disposition of superiority over other organisms. However, when examined to a degree so deep as to rethink “inherent worth” held by humans, a tenable argument can be posed that debunks any warranted superiority of humans over other organisms! Unfortunately I cannot elaborate much further without becoming a bit too verbose for a blog post here, but material similar to this is common in class everyday. Many a time have I thought to myself the sage words of Back to the Future’s young Marty McFly, “This is heavy.”

Finally, I am taking environmental instrumentation lab (EIL). This lab is unique to any other I have taken at UD. Our primary focus is to restore a chunk of land near campus recently purchased by the University of Dayton. The EIL area is located in Old River Park, which had previously been an outdoor recreation center for a nearby business. The park has the remnants of an assortment of things, featuring an overgrown mini-golf course and life-size chessboard. It offers the essence of an abandoned landscape, but provides a fascinating opportunity into practical restoration.

Although my schedule this semester is, as the kids say these days, “bonkers,” I am enjoying the elegant turbulence of my routine. I feel like a giant sea sponge soaking in a tray of sea knowledge, and it’s a pretty good feeling.

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