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Margaret Atwood speaks at animal extinction symposium

Scientists and philosophers from all over the world will take on the weighty topic of extinction at a three-day conference at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Three-day Sudbury symposium brings together scientists, philosophers

A conference looking at animal extinction is underway at Laurentian University in Sudbury. It includes scientists as well as philosophers. (Chris Berube/CBC)

Scientists and philosophers from all over the world will take on the weighty topic of extinction at a three-day conference at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Margaret Atwood will participate in a panel at a conference in Sudbury about animal extinction.

But for ecologist and Laurentian University professor Charles Ramcharan, the speaker he’s most looking forward to isn’t a scientist, but well-known author Margaret Atwood.

“She’s a heroine of ours … Her stuff is sci-fi [and] often it’s about projections into the future,” he said. “It’s fascinating to see how she interprets ecological change. It’s cool.”

Ramcharan added the conference, called Thinking Extinction, is especially important in light of the recent changes to Ontario’s endangered species act.

Charles Ramcharan is attending the conference in Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC)

“I think we need this kind of oversight when it comes to things that are this important," he said.

The symposium is being hosted by Dr. Brett Buchanan, Dr. Gillian Crozier, Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde, and Dr. Jacqueline Litzgus, members of LU’s new research centre, the Centre for Evolutionary Ecology and Ethical Conservation.

This might be the first conference of its kind to bring together scientists and philosophers to talk about extinction, organizers said.

‘Involves all of us’

A landscape architect at Laurentian said extinction is an issue everyone should think about.

“It’s not necessarily a scientific problem,” Jennifer Harvey said. “It involves all of us. While science can provide facts and information, maybe it is a humanities problem.”

Atwood is participating in a panel, The Future of Endangered Species, on Friday at Laurentian.

The conference concludes on Saturday with speakers from the Toronto, New Zealand and the United States.

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