Nature Conservation academic encourages students from different backgrounds to collaborate as Fifth Industrial Revolution takes hold

Refiloe Ntoi

On 29 September 2022, Ntoi, a Lecturer in the Department of Nature Conservation, organised a debate that was held between the Engineering students and Nature Conservation students. The students debated matters associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution encouraged the use of artificial intelligence to manage life systems. Robots and technological devices are all elements of the Fourth Industrial revolution. Engineering students were communicating that we as humans need technological advancements, and they were in full support of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Nature Conservation students on the other side were advocating for protection of natural resources. Their argument was that technological advancements cannot take place at the expense of the natural environment,” said Ntoi. Ntoi said that at the end, she brought both parties together, and stressed the importance of technology, artificial intelligence as well as the importance of our natural resources, and the need to protect and conserve them.

“I told the students that both sides need each other. I said to them that the engineers create technology that nature students can use to look preserve the environment. The combination of these – technology and nature is the Fifth Industrial Revolution,” said Ntoi. Ntoi said she stressed to the students that the time for winning debates was over, what was required now was a collaboration between people with different backgrounds, who want to work towards a common goal. She said the Fifth Industrial Revolution was characterised by the collaboration between ‘human and machine’.  Ntoi herself has different backgrounds, among which are natural sciences, social sciences, and law. She said she found these to be very useful. Ntoi said it was important that students were “encouraged to discuss, debate issues, be inquisitive and to critically assess and challenge the current status quo in terms of the Industrial Revolutions.”

The event took place at the Durban Natural Sciences Museum.