Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 27

Consilience

By E. O. Wilson
Published in 1998
ISBN 0-679-45077-7

Consilience is an inspired work
from one of the greatest minds
in the American environmental
movement, E. O. Wilson. He was
born in Birmingham, Alabama, in
1929. Wilson, a professor of biology
at Harvard, is the recipient of
numerous awards in science and two
Pulitzer prizes. More than any of his
other works, this book could easily
mandate a review at the chapter
for a reasonable analysis of the
author's thoughts. Some measure-
beyond perfunctory-of the reader's
understanding of biology will certainly
help, but it is not a requirement.
Webster defines consilience as "the
linking together of principles from
different disciplines especially when
forming a comprehensive theory...
a jumping together" of converging
evidence. Consilience should not
be confused with Einstein's Grand
Unification Theory, which attempted
to coalesce the theory of relativity
with electromagnetism. Consilience,
rather, refers to a coming together of
knowledge from many different fields.
An example is the theory of evolution,
although Charles Darwin did not know
that in his lifetime. It is supported
by the fields of biogeography,
comparative anatomy, comparative
physiology, genetics, geology,
molecular biology, and paleontology.
In Consilience Wilson echoes the
goal of earlier researchers: when
we have unified enough knowledge
we will understand who we are as

a species and why we are here.
Thus, Wilson identifies a need to
unify not just among the sciences,
but among all the great branches of
learning: the sciences, humanities,
and arts. He argues that this
task has been hampered by our
increasing fragmentation and hyperspecialization of knowledge since the
1800s. Knowing more and more about
less and less is hindering our ability to
understand. The attempts of science
in the late 1990s to start developing
a synthesis were a source of hope for
Wilson. He believes that the difference
between these branches of learning is
in the magnitude of the questions, not
in the principles needed for solution.
This book is a significant work for
me. Wilson was trained as a classical
reductionist scientist, focused on
ants. After becoming the leading
expert in his narrow field, he stepped
back to take a look at the bigger
world. What he discovered was that
certain concepts that apply at the
micro level in the biological realm
apply equally to the macro level. Not
happy to stop there, Wilson continued
expanding his contemplations to
encompass human societal functions.
He strongly believes we will not solve
the environmental issues we face
today-from the impending loss of
biodiversity to the human-driven
causes of climate change-until we
understand the human condition,
which gives me pause. Pause
because other noted environmental

thinkers such as Karl Henrik-Robert
have postulated similar assertions.
Robert, the founder of the Natural
Step, articulates, "Until the time that
basic human needs are met, humans
will never take any action proactively
about the environment because they
are in a survival and protection of the
family unit mode."
One might want to argue with
Wilson that these crises are the
products, not parts, of human nature,
but I feel that would be fruitless. What
Wilson suggests is that, while we
might experience some successes in
our struggle (such as addressing acid
rain in North America and developing
an international agreement on the
ozone layer), we will not advance an
elegant solution until we have a much
better interdisciplinary understanding
of the principles driving the issues.
In essence, he is saying we are
practicing eco-efficiency in a system
that requires mega-efficiency.
I challenge you to think about this,
move forward, and do great things!

Brian K. Yeoman is Director of
Sustainable Leadership at NAEP
and is the retired Associate Vice
President for Facilities Planning
and Campus Development at
the University of Texas Health
Science Center at Houston.
Email: byeoman@naepnet.org.

EDUCATIONAL PROCUREMENT JOURNAL | www.naepnet.org

27


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018

Professional Development Notes
NAEP President Nichol Luoma
Research and Development RFP: Procurement Assists with Innovation
Training, Testing, and Incentives
Annual Meeting Wrap-Up
Certification: Which One Are You?
Evolution or Revolution? Campus Cards: Time for a New Business Model
Book Review: Building a Fund of Sustainability Knowledge, One Book at a Time—Part Nine
Best and Final: Procurement: How the Torch Gets Passed
Index to Advertisers
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - intro
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - cover1
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - cover2
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 3
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 4
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 5
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Professional Development Notes
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 7
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - NAEP President Nichol Luoma
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 9
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Research and Development RFP: Procurement Assists with Innovation
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 11
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 12
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 13
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 14
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 15
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Training, Testing, and Incentives
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 17
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Annual Meeting Wrap-Up
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 19
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Certification: Which One Are You?
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 21
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Evolution or Revolution? Campus Cards: Time for a New Business Model
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 23
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 24
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Book Review: Building a Fund of Sustainability Knowledge, One Book at a Time—Part Nine
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 26
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 27
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Best and Final: Procurement: How the Torch Gets Passed
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - 29
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - Index to Advertisers
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - cover3
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - cover4
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - outsert1
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - outsert2
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - outsert3
Educational Procurement Journal - Summer 2018 - outsert4
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