Tulane Professor Honored at UMass Boston’s First-Ever Lynton Colloquium
October 01, 2012
Office of Communications
Throughout his life, Ernest Lynton worked to connect the academic progress made by university faculty to communities that could benefit from the applied knowledge. Lynton, who served as vice president of academic affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston, saw a lack of alignment, which he called a “crisis of purpose” when he first wrote about it in 1983.
On Friday, the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE), based at UMass Boston, held the first annual Lynton Colloquium on the “scholarship of engagement.” Throughout the day, panelists and attendees reflected on Lynton’s work toward solving the “crisis of purpose,” and on the current and future state of publicly engaged scholarship.
During the keynote luncheon, UMass president Robert Caret introduced Jordan Karubian, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Tulane University, who received the 2012 Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty.
Karubian discussed his efforts to slow down, and potentially reverse, environmental degradation in the Mache-Chindul Reserve in northwest Ecuador. He spoke about a 1992 law that prohibits access to the reserve without permission. He said that law didn’t take into account the more than 5,000 people already living on the reserve at the time.
“To achieve positive outcomes, I [realized] I had to work with local community members, to build capacity and appreciation for natural resources that they had.
They needed to have a stake if conservation was ever going to happen,” Karubian said.
Over the last eight years, Karubian and his team of graduate assistants, PhD-level biologists, and “hunters-turned-researchers” have engaged in a teacher training program.
The program provides materials to local teachers, offers technical workshops where community members can learn how to be park guards, and engages in other environmentally oriented tasks and research projects.
Karubian is seeking to replicate this model of engaged research, teaching, and service in Papua New Guinea. He is also researching the effects of the 2010 BP oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico and habitat restoration. He said funding and time requirements are constant challenges to community-based approaches to scholarship.
“NERCHE as a group and the Lynton Award has been really instrumental for me in allowing me to establish a framework for the type of work I’ve been doing. It’s been enormously helpful on a personal and professional level,” Karubian said.
Karubian will receive the award at the 18th Annual Conference of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) at the University of Chattanooga later this month.
NERCHE has been recognizing faculty members who make connections between scholarship and community outreach since 1996.
Lynton passed away in 1998. This past June, UMass Boston posthumously awarded Lynton an honorary degree in recognition of his service to higher education in Massachusetts.
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex urban issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s eight colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.