“When we see the Turkish land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Hacettepe University’s Land Ethic Research and Application Center (founded in 2014) organized the second Land Ethic Education Project (LEEP) on May 22-23, 2023. LEEP is modeled on Aldo Leopold Foundation’s LEP, utilizing the Turkish edition of A Sand County Almanac (Bir Kum Yöresi Almanağı 2013) for both its theoretical and applied activities. LEEP is taking place under the leadership of Dr. Ufuk Özdağ who is a land ethic leader, a LEP alumni 2010, and the Founder-Director of the Land Ethic Research and Application Center.
This year LEEP hosted 32 participants (students and staff) from various departments of Hacettepe University. The program comprised lectures and hands-on activities led by six educators (two literature scholars and two biologists from Hacettepe University, one environmental educator from Bilkent University, and one forester from Bartın University). The program, with a focus on “creating an ecologically literate citizenry,” as in LEP, emphasized that “the land ethic evolves in the minds of a thinking community.”
The educators facilitated group discussions through their talks on “The Poetry of Trees: Literature and the Land Ethic”; “Education for Sustainability and Leopold’s Land Ethic”; “Plant Biodiversity: A Land Ethic Approach”, “The Significance of Localism with the Guidance of A Sand County Almanac”; “Ecological Restoration and Land Health”; and “Meeting with the trees of Beytepe Campus.” Following the 2-day event, a certificate ceremony was held in front of the Atatürk Monument, a landmark at Hacettepe’s green Beytepe Campus.
A first in Turkey, LEEP is focused on developing an ethical relationship with the land. Through direct experience with nature in the outdoor class of the Land Ethic Center, the goal is to advance a scientific understanding of the land so that the participants may make informed decisions about their local lands.
A certificate program, the alumnies will be able to organize their own LEEP in the local lands, in collaboration with Hacettepe University’s Land Ethic Research and Application Center.