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Supporting Sustainability Initiatives Through Biometeorology Education And Training

M. Allen, J. Vanos, D. Hondula, Daniel J. Vecellio, David B. Knight, Hamed Mehdipoor, Rebekah A. I. Lucas, Chris Fuhrmann, H. Lokys, A. Lees, S. T. Nascimento, Andrew C. W. Leung, D. R. Perkins
Published 2017 · Engineering, Medicine

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The International Society of Biometeorology (ISB) has covered significant breadth and depth addressing fundamental and applied societal and environmental challenges in the last 60 years. Biometeorology is an interdisciplinary science connecting living organisms to their environment, but there is very little understanding of the existence and placement of this discipline within formal educational systems and institutions. It is thus difficult to project the ability of members of the biometeorological community—especially the biometeorologists of the future—to help solve global challenges. In this paper, we ask: At present, how we are training people to understand and think about biometeorology? We also ask: What are the current tools and opportunities in which biometeorologists might address future challenges? Finally, we connect these two questions by asking: What type of new training and skill development is needed to better educate “biometeorologists of the future” to more effectively address the future challenges? To answer these questions, we provide quantitative and qualitative evidence from an educationally focused workshop attended by new professionals in biometeorology. We identify four common themes (thermal comfort and exposures, agricultural productivity, air quality, and urbanization) that biometeorologists are currently studying and that we expect to be important in the future based on their alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Review of recent literature within each of these thematic areas highlights a wide array of skill sets and perspectives that biometeorologists are already using. Current and new professionals within the ISB have noted highly varying and largely improvised educational pathways into the field. While variability and improvisation may be assets in promoting flexibility, adaptation, and interdisciplinarity, the lack of formal training in biometeorology raises concerns about the extent to which continuing generations of scholars will identify and engage with the community of scholarship that the ISB has developed over its 60-year history.
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