Biology and Ethics
As someone with a PHD in Religion and Ethics, I am especially concerned with the way in which Ethical judgments may heavily influence the success of applications that develop from many avenues of biological research. Sequencing the human genome, gene localization and identity, gene therapy, the creation and release of genetically engineered organisms, bioengineered pharmaceuticals, and ecosystem management of marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments, are all current and lively areas of applied research that call for cooperation and partnerships between biologists and many other professional and cultural groups in the community.
I take particular delight in the way in which the study of biology has an immediate relevance to our daily lives. It is important for everyone to develop an informed sense of how we may individually and collectively continue to fit into the complex ecology of our planet without rendering horrendous destruction. Some of the greatest engineering feats of the future are likely to involve bioengineering projects, particularly concerning the disposal of municipal and industrial wastes and the development of renewable resources.
Humanitarian Side of Biology
Biology is the study of living organisms and is divided into specialized fields such as morphology, physiology, anatomy, behavior, origin and distribution, but are there opportunities for biologists to work in the humanitarian sector?
The answer is yes. However, like many students who’ve completed their Bachelor’s degree and specialized in something that isn’t directly related to conflict management, development, international politics or human rights, further study and voluntary work is recommended if you want to make getting into this field easier for yourself.
Luckily, there are many ways you can do this. Even if you haven’t finished your degree! For example, if you were to minor in ecology or focus on human biology during your Bachelor’s, there will be more doors open in the humanitarian field once you’ve completed your first degree.
Other options available to students that are either studying or trying to decide what to do after their Bachelor’s, include work placements abroad and internships at nonprofit organizations. Perhaps you’d like to work with frogs in Bolivia, or pandas in China – opportunities like these can often expand into paid roles, or allow for more flexibility in your role at an organization, so you can use your knowledge of biology to humanitarian ends.
These types of opportunities provide you with some great ammunition when it comes to demonstrating your voluntary work experience to organizations and courses you apply for later; give you a real feel for what this kind of work is like and help you decide where in the world you’d like to focus your attention on.
An additional benefit of doing voluntary work is that if you prove yourself capable and useful around the office and out in the field or community, you are often given more responsibility than you might if you were working in a role in the private sector with the same amount of experience behind you. This is extremely beneficial to your career in general, and will often lead you into higher paying roles when you eventually take a paid position.
If you want to take part in a mission or humanitarian work related to biology and ecology, look at forestry organizations, environmental management NGOs, renewable energy or agricultural projects, ecological or environmental community development concerns, or environmental research ventures.
Some great examples include the Pachamama Alliance (pachamama.org), a project that works in the Amazon rainforest; Mumbai Forest Initiative (wrm.org.uy), WWF Forests (wwf.panda.org); Survival International; the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, unep.org); the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS, wcs.org), which aims to conserve the world’s largest wild place in 15 priority regions; African Bamboo (African-bamboo.com); One Acre Fund (oneacrefund.org). However, there are thousands of small NGOs that operate around the world that would be happy to receive a volunteer with some specialized knowledge in biology and some new energy to work for their cause.
It’s true to say that if you’re really serious about taking your career in a humanitarian direction, a Master’s degree cannot do you any harm. Not only will it give you heaps of specialized and practical knowledge to apply when you go out into the world of work, it will help you deeply focus on making a difference and prepare you for an effective, inspiring career down the road.
If you’d like help writing your personal statement that will help you fly through the Master’s degree admission process, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. That’s what we’re all about.
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