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Imagine projects with a strong emotional appeal

Naturevolume 444page422 (2006) | Download Citation



Your Editorial “To build bridges, or to burn them” (Nature 443, 481; 2006) concludes that a large group of environmentalists “might be more likely to change their minds about science if its practitioners would desist from sneering at emotional argument and demonstrate that science is a window through which we can see our world more clearly”.

I would go further, and argue that scientists would do well to use emotion, based on sound science, in that demonstration.

Our Imagine programme ( involves scientists and high-school students working together on tangible projects for application in developing countries. Scientists submit their ideas, from which small groups of students aged 16 to 18 each choose one. The student groups then draft a business plan, carry out experiments, obtain local information and outline budgets, while considering social issues.

The winning team sees its plan carried out: in 2004 the production of biodiesel from algae in Mozambique; in 2005 extraction of avocado oil in Kenya; and in 2006, redevelopment of a plantation in Suriname to produce colouring compounds.

Imagine's emotive collaboration of schoolchildren and scientists working on applications in developing countries appeals to the media, and hence to a very broad audience that might not otherwise be reached.

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  1. Kluyver Centre for Genomics of Industrial Fermentation, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 67, BC Delft, 2628, The Netherlands

    • Patricia Osseweijer


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