In a rapidly changing world, the introduction of highly-infectious diseases will always be a looming threat. Sometimes they are extinguished before they can do global damage, and sometimes they linger for years and damage communities beyond repair. As humanity grows and touches more parts of the animal kingdom, diseases which formerly only infected animals have now begun hopping aboard the Homo sapien bus. As the ENVX Symposium approaches, the coming year’s topic being conservation, this is a staunch reminder of the effects of extensive contact between humans and wildlife.
The New Who
As we struggle to find the correct avenue to execute the ENVX Symposium while keeping everyone healthy, we must bring up the topic of who will be included. As discussed in a handful of my past articles, student panels will be playing a heightened role in the 23rd annual symposium; with students scrambling to make sure their families are safe, fly god knows how many miles to get home, and complete a semester which has been put online, the idea of preparing themselves for an extensive discussion would be, in the kindest words, the last thing on their plate. Because of this, the ENVX Symposium’s committee must pay closer attention to picking the right candidates who have both the means and the knowledge to sit on a panel; where are they currently located? Do they have a strong internet connection? What is their field of expertise? These are all questions which would be asked before we could confidently pick a researcher.
The New What
The study of, and need for, conservation is still as present today as it was yesterday. Perhaps the world of humans has ground to a halt, but this is not the case for the wildlife which occupies every corner of the globe, or for that matter many poachers, traffickers, and buyers of illegal goods who are still very invested in these global trade networks. Perhaps this fall is not the best time, but has there ever been a perfect time to address something? The discussion must still go on because it is a discussion which affects everyone on earth, with or without the presence of a global pandemic. If anything, the effect of COViD-19 on how we implement conservation practices would be a tremendous topic to touch upon due to its relevance and intriguing nature as we all navigate this sticky situation together.
The New How
As I’ve mentioned before, the ENVX Symposium is rapidly adjusting to the situation at hand. After numerous meetings, primarily through the lens of a camera, it is the unanimous decision that the symposium will be hosted online for its 23rd annual occurrence. Luckily for us, in the information age this is entirely possible and stunningly easy so long as we follow the correct steps and use the right software. In fact, the move from in-person to online may allow for better engagement between our student panel and the audience; viewers will be able to stream the talk from their homes and ask questions in real-time without disturbing presentations. If it is decided that these panels will be recorded, then those who missed the live version will still be able to participate. Another great aspect to recorded sessions would be the viewer’s ability to rewind the video. Missed that one comment or speaker? Now you don’t have to second-guess what you know and instead just hear it a second, third, or even fourth time.
Yes, the pandemic offers a slough of challenges that we must overcome, but through teamwork and adaptation this process could shed light on new practices which might revolutionize the way that Lewis & Clark delivers their symposium. There’s many new opportunities to pursue.