Bellamy sees red over green centre

June 2, 1995

Environmentalist David Bellamy is lending his support to a campaign to persuade Edinburgh University not to axe its unique centre for human ecology.

The university court meets on Monday to consider the central management group's proposal to close the CHE in September, and Professor Bellamy is the key speaker at a public meeting tonight calling for a stay of execution.

Professor Bellamy will highlight the ecological awareness of classical philosophers such as Plato and Socrates, and argues that if universities continue down an "ivory tower" track they would be betraying philosophy.

The future of the centre overshadowed a university presentation on its environmental initiative during the district council's festival of the environment.

"I can't for the life of me understand how in the context of greening the university, Edinburgh can be proposing to close its foremost, internationally renowned centre of interdisciplinary thinking about the relationship between university specialisms and the environmental agenda," said one member of the audience at the festival, winning applause.

Colin Whittemore, head of the institute for ecology and resource management within Edinburgh's faculty of science and engineering, pleaded that the event not be "hijacked", since the CHE was only part of the university's environmental agenda covering teaching, research and institutional practice.

But pointing out leaflets by the CHE's MSc students, entitled "Help! Save Scotland's green think tank", he commented: "I think we've taught them rather well. They get things on two sides of A5. They've said it how it is."

The leaflet urges supporters to help convince the court to reconsider, warning that the CHE not only carries out research itself but is "an incubator" for research in other departments.

Alastair McIntosh, director of the MSc course, said: "The university evidently had not realised that it was doing more here than just closing down a tiny centre. In the public eye, it is closing down its own most credible expression of concern about the major global issues of our era."

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