Orhan Yenigün RC 72 Witnesses Decades of Change in Environmental Sciences

“We need academics especially in international affairs that require defending our nation’s rights.”

Prof. Dr. Orhan Yenigün was the manager of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Boğaziçi University between 1999-2021.

Prof. Dr. Orhan Yenigün RC 72

In the many years you spent at the Institute of Environmental Sciences, what kind of changes in the interest of the students in this subject matter have you observed?

In the 70s and 80s sustainability was linked to development, and the main subject was sustainable development. Recently we started to talk about sustainable use of resources and sustainability in areas like energy, agriculture, and tourism. Our students at the Institute of Environmental Sciences found these challenging issues more interesting in comparison to other environmental topics, and we started to offer more courses focusing on them. Eventually, thesis topics at the master’s level were offered in this area due to students’ preferences. 

What are the qualities necessary for an academic career in this field?

The student, preferably but not necessarily, should have a master’s degree in environmental sciences and have studied related subjects before enrolling in a PhD program.  We need academics especially in international affairs that require defending our nation’s rights. We need more experts with a good command of English and who have specialized in environmental sustainability and related subjects.

How has RC impacted the path you have chosen?

During my RC years, all we knew about our environment was limited to Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which was a summer reading assignment. During those years the population of metropolitan Istanbul was less than 3 million. The waters of the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara were not yet polluted. We had no notion about “sustainable management of resources,” since it seemed that Nature was resilient to incorporate environmental pressures. RC education was effective in gaining freedom of expression in all aspects of life. 

Published August 2021

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