John Anderson


THEMES: Society, Education  |  WORKSHOP: Natural History & Research


John Anderson

John Anderson is the W.H. Drury Professor of Ecology/Natural History at College of the Atlantic. He teaches general ecology, conservation biology, animal behavior, and sometimes environmental literature and history courses. For the past 24 years he has been studying seabirds among the islands of the Maine Archipelago. He is intrigued with the interplay between human culture and history and the natural history of landscapes. With his students he is examining the impacts of bald eagle recovery on nesting seabird populations, the impact of sea-level rise on islands, and the potential effect of industrial wind factories in the mid-water region.




But I also quite often start the class out with Genesis. So I'll walk in and read Genesis I: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." And they're like, wait a minute, which class am I in? What I'm trying to get them to think is just what you're talking about. What is the mindset out of which this comes?

Only 150 years ago, really smart people were interested in a lot of the same questions we're interested in. But they didn't get to ask the questions because the answer was already there. It's in the Bible; end of subject. So it's only after you start breaking out of this sort of orthodoxy of the text that you can start getting into the questions. That's part of what I want them to do in their science. Not just rely on the textbook – it's just another Bible, if you will. And so make it a living thing, rather than a dead thing they've just got to memorize.