PAEP/IYNet Student Writing Award Projects
of the Sciences and Humanities – Values and Society
Topic for 2011-12:
Alternative Energy Resources – The Bridge to the Future:
Environmental Science and Equitable, Sustainable Development for the New Millennium.
Background. The PAEP/IYNet program intiatives for youth, especially the Student Writing Award Projects of the Sciences and Humanities – Values and Society, are dedicated in honour of two distinguished co-founding contributors and former members of the Advisory Council of the youth-oriented Public Awareness Education Programs: , and Louanne Smrke-Schweinsberg (1951-1991).
Jeanne Sauvé was founder of the Fédération des Mouvements de Jeunesse du Québec in 1947; freelance broadcaster and journalist until 1972, Minister of State for Science and Technology (1972-74), Minister of Environment (1974-75); Minister of Communications (1975-79); and Governor General of Canada (1984-1990).
Louanne Smrke was a journalist and publisher with Southam Communications from 1976. She attended the University of Western Ontario and Concordia University, Montréal. Advanced studies in the 70s of the sciences, humanities and social sciences, and encouraged by Jeanne Sauvé, shaped Louanne's progressive ideas and commitment toward a deeper sense of moral responsibility and social thought for the world and its future generations. Louanne inspired many in the scientific and engineering communities in the pursuit of a new ethos.
In 1979, her global vision was instrumental in establishing the innovative, youth-oriented, transdisciplinary
Public Awareness Education Programs to foster a new educational and cultural dialogue to increase public awareness, knowledge and understanding of the significance of the sciences, innovation and technology as an integral part of our culture.
As a journalist she managed the Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine and was also a contributor to the Financial Post. Louanne was an energetic force in raising the public image of the scientific and engineering profession, making the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards program, the Governor General (Schreyer) Awards, a success since 1981.
A tireless advocate of the important role that language and literature must have in creating an imaginative social vision toward an improved human condition, Louanne motivated many talented young women and men and provided valued career guidance. Her involvement with the philanthropic International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to promote understanding through quality literature, was part of her daily discourse. Inspired by books from an early age she was indefatigable in projecting her credo: "Everyone has the responsibility to shape the future of humanity. The way in which ideas are formed is what gives character to the human mind. We must become more truthful and active in life, . . . there is so much to articulate and to set into motion. Our single most important enterprise is an education that creates a common network of rational thought across the globe."
In one of her last editorials she wrote: "The Greek philosopher Diogenes is known for his conviction that people should lead simple, natural lives, rejecting luxury and aspiring to self-sufficiency. He himself lived in poverty,
sleeping in public buildings and begging food. He did not insist at all that society live in this way.
His intention was to show that even in reduced circumstances, happiness and independence were possible. He believed strongly in outspokenness, in the virtue of exposing the most conventional standards and beliefs and in stirring people to reform. In this respect, he is an inspiration for our own times.
The widespread concern for the environment we have witnessed in the late eighties is praiseworthy, but without firm political action - legislation, compliance mechanisms, etc. to accompany it, the expressions of concern are only rhetoric.
The moral responsibility for protecting the environment is collective and individual. Scientists and engineers, whose professional duty it is to protect the public, must not remain silent on environmental issues.
It is important for the profession to show leadership, to become involved in public education, in the effort to raise the level of the public's understanding of the technical side of environmental problems.
But certainly, environmental protection is not simply a technical problem. The social, economic and political dimensions of safeguarding the environment are equally important. The need to stir people to reform is enormous. The question is who will be the new Diogenes."