The Lewis Thomas Award for the Scientist as Poet.
That is the reason behind the International Lewis Thomas Award for Writing About Science, an annual literary prize awarded by The Rockefeller University to scientists or physicians deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement; it recognizes “scientists as poets.” Originally called the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet, it honors individuals who bridge the worlds of science and the humanities. Winners of the Lewis Thomas Prize are celebrated for their ability to express science’s aesthetic and philosophical dimensions, providing new information and inspiring reflection.
Thanks to our ABC we had the pleasure of listening to Dr Sylvia Earle, a recipient of the Lewis Thomas Award.
Our wonderful, publicly-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation and our CSIRO produced this outstanding documentary. Australia’s Ocean Odyssey describes the life of the eastern ocean current from the Great Barrier Reef to the Antarctic. And the impact of global warming on the source of life in the current! We are seeing just what our east current does. Unfortunately, at the same time as we have been watching this documentary, the Australian government is undermining connections by putting the humanities out of the reach of many.
We had the pleasure of seeing and hearing the voice of Dr Sylvia Earle, a great oceanographer. She was awarded the Lewis Thomas Prize in 2017. She showed us the importance of marine conservation here.
‘Dr Sylvia Earle is the National Geographic Society’s explorer-in-residence. She has led more than 100 ocean expeditions around the world and pioneered the development of deep-ocean technology, including research submarines. Known internationally as a speaker, author, and advocate for marine conservation, Earle conducts field and laboratory studies that have led to the discovery of new plant and animal species and to the identification of new deep-water ecosystems.’ ‘To understand the oceans, science needs and benefits from great explorers,’ says Jesse H. Ausubel, director of the Program for the Human Environment and chairman of the Lewis Thomas Prize selection committee. ‘Sylvia Earle is one of the most important ocean explorers of the last 50 years, and she brings a spirit of inspiration to everything she does. Her writing has inspired people to pursue careers in ocean science and in conservation, and she’s an enormously effective advocate for creating marine-protected areas in the U.S. and around the world.’ We heard from Dr Earle and Australia’s dedicated men and women of science trying to help us realise what we have. [I include Sylvia Earle’s global mission here.]
BUT, when, in educational terms, we are learning the vital importance of connections. why, in Australia, has our Coalition government decided to separate the sciences from the humanities in this way? This Coalition government intends to make Australia’s humanities students pay 113% more for their degrees while they decrease the fees for science students And they are to pay this exorbitant amount so there is no cost – ‘zero impact’ – on this government’s budget!
STEM not STEAM. This is the madness facing us ‘down under’.
Why would an Australian government decide to punish those who study the humanities?
Thanks to our ABC and our CSIRO, with Sylvia Earle in our homes, we felt the wonder of how the tiniest life, upwelling, influences cloud and rain. And we saw what happens when oceans are warming! We saw the sea grasses. Grasses that flower in the sea. We saw how the sea grasses are threatened. Scientists as poets, who receive the Lewis Thomas Award, are being acknowledged as great educators.