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COB Science Week brings focus to solving national problems

Published: Oct 23, 2013

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There are almost 5,000 students at The College of The Bahamas (COB) and they are not merely learners, they are potential problem solvers. That was precisely how the Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle challenged COB students to see themselves when he spoke to them recently about their role as citizens and members of the science community.

“We often look at doctors, lawyers, bankers and businessman, as nation builders, and we forget the scientist, the physicist, the chemist and the biologist. These are the people who should really be making a greater mark in our country,” said Rolle, a former COB student.

“In particular, we need scientists who are innovators, people who will conceive of new ideas and better solutions to some of the very old problems in our country. You students are the innovators of The Bahamas and it will be through your innovation that you become nation builders,” he said.

Rolle, who brought remarks on behalf of Prime Minister Perry G. Christie, spoke at the opening ceremony of Science Week, October 21-25 at the college. The aim is to broaden the focus and national discourse on the practical applications of the sciences and the implications for national development.

The state minister for investments urged faculty and students to engage in research that would be beneficial for the country.

“Coming out of the School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences will be a wealth of resources to drive innovation in our country,” he told them.

Dr. Ian Strachan, vice-president of advancement, who spoke on behalf of College President Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze, said Science Week demonstrated the college’s commitment to engaging students and the nation in vital conversations about the kind of country and world they ought to live in and the kinds of lives they want to live, all viewed through the prism of environmental life sciences.

“At no point in our history one could argue that the safety, health, stability and sustainability of our environment has been more a focus of national consciousness. For that matter, at no point in our history have we been more sensitive to issues of public health and well-being. This is the fertile ground in which Science Week seeks to plant it seeds,” said Dr. Strachan.

This year, the focus of Science Week is on food sustainability, a matter that the college and the government are seeking to address through the impending Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Sciences Institute that will be located in North Andros. The institute is being financed through a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank.

“How do we grow more of our food? How do we reap the full benefit of our seas without depleting them? How do we build resorts that will not harm our shores and wetlands and reefs? How do we build our homes, given sea levels rise? How do we plan our communities? How do we generate more of the energy we need to run our cities and towns? These are big questions. Students, you are among the generation that will answer these questions for our people. Science Week is an awesome way to start,” said Dr. Strachan.

Lionel Johnson, the Dean of Pure and Applied Sciences said the steadfast effort of the School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences to promote science as a vehicle of national development was laudable.

“The School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences emphasizes the many facets of science and their indispensable role in the development of measures to improve our quality of life, such as through enhanced food production, as well as ameliorating many of the health problems that have devastated the lives of untold millions of innocent suffers, including Bahamians,” he said.

During the week there will be a science quiz competition, a panel discussion on “Food and Sustainability”, scientific demonstrations and a field trip to Andros in conjunction with the Bahamas National Trust.

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