Dean challenges Science alumni to put environment first

Dean Prof Eugene Cloete (second from right) welcomed Sandra Dickson, Hannetjie Needham and Songvei Cluver to the Science Alumni networking function.

“Don’t make a decision that will create an environment that will dictate your behaviour too much – rather try to think about a behaviour that will help to dictate the environment.” That was the challenge towards sustainable living that dean Prof Eugene Cloete put out to alumni who attended the first ever networking event of the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University on Wednesday evening.

Prof Cloete, who was the guest speaker at the event, provided insights into the world’s current environmental and economic challenges, and said that it can all be explained by a few basic biological principles. He pointed out that the lifestyles of people in developed countries are shaping an unsustainable earth.

“We need a totally different mindset that allows for inductive and creative thinking, to imagine what this future of us can be like,” he said. “One thing I know is that things cannot be as it has been in the past, because the road we are currently on is one that leads to the extinction of mankind.”

He said that science – but not science in isolation – can make a difference to the immense challenges that the world is facing in terms of water provision, energy, agriculture and food security, the availability of land, technology and health matters.

Among the younger alumni attending were Bewketu Bekele, Damian Kajunguri, Zanelle Sutherland and Dr Pieter Neethling.

He pointed out that these topics drive the research agenda of the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University. It was recently ranked 331th for natural sciences in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings, with Stellenbosch University receiving a place among the top 450 universities in the world.

The networking event provided an opportunity for Science alumni to interact with current faculty members, to meet up with former classmates and to interact with people who are in related fields of work.