Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tih-Fen Ting

Please post questions to Tih-Fen Ting by replying to this post.


aharg2 said...

Why did you decide to go into this field of study and have you ever regretted choosing this discipline over another?

Tih-Fen Ting said...

Hi aharg2,

Sorry for not being able to get back to you sooner. I didn't know you had left me a question as I was busy helping with the E-Waste Recycling Conference and Lobby Day sponsored by ISEC (Illinois Student Environmental Coalition; a statewide student environmental organization), SAGE (Students Allied for a Greener Earth), and Campus Greens at UIS Monday through Wednesday.

Anyway, to answer your question (why I decided to go into the field of Environmental Studies), I have always loved nature. As a kid, I often roamed around the woods and pond after school, catching cicadas, tadpoles, fish, and watching them grow and sometimes metamorphose. Back then, the study of “critters” was a wonderful way to stay outdoors; non-human living beings fascinated me (and still do) with their morphology and behavior. My interests in animals later led me to study biology in college, at which time I also started participating in ecological research. In fact, at one point in my early twenties, I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life as a field biologist in the tropical rainforest! So, it is no accident that I am in the field of environmental studies. As my knowledge and experiences accumulate, I also reckon that the collective survival of humanity depends on the proper functioning and processes of the earth’s living and nonliving systems. Human history is full of examples in which old civilizations crumbled largely due to the destruction of their environment through deforestation, soil erosion, or inadequate management of water resources. In the past, because of isolation, simple technology, and small population size, the collapse of one society did not have far-flung impacts on the rest of the world. However, with the advent of globalization, any society’s problems have the potential to affect any one else. That to me says we cannot be too careful in taking environmental problems seriously. If you are interested in learning more about specific examples on "how societies choose to fail or succeed", you might want to pick up the book "Collapse" by Jared Diamond.

I have never regretted choosing the field that I am in. As I talked about at the panel, Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary field. In order to better understand the human dimension as a dominant force in environmental processes and change, it behooves us to cross the boundaries of natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. I truly appreciate, and in fact am oftentimes marveled by, human creativity and ingenuity, but the continuation of our enterprise depends on a healthy and functioning environment that can provide us the resources we need for survival and inspiration.

Thank you for your question!