Natalie Prinz is a recent MSc graduate from the University of Bremen, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research. Her thesis focused on the effects of tourism on feeding patterns of fish on coral reefs, for which she received the CAMPUS award 2018. Want to know more about Natalie? Follow her on her personal website and blog: seanatures.com

Cogito, ergo sum: I think, therefore I am – a phrase coined by the French Philosopher Descartes in search of proof for his existence. He concluded that awareness came from thinking and anything that could think, must exist. In Descartes case, he focused on self-awareness, but awareness of one’s environment is arguably just as important. “Being aware of what is happening around you is the contrary of ignorance, that is what I would like to describe” says Natalie Prinz, an enthusiastic ocean awareness activist.

“In the German language, the word awareness is called ‘Bewusstsein,’ coming from the word bewusst (aware) and the word sein (to be),” literally translating into aware-being. The concept of being aware is not only important for one’s own happiness but also necessary for daily interactions with our environment. In recent years, the growing gap in people’s awareness of their immediate and global environment has lead to a number of problems, from environmental pollution to targeted acts of violence. Natalie believes “raising awareness of ecological problems, or things that are poorly understood is absolutely necessary for societies to understand what happens around us and what detrimental effects human actions (often already by simply being) can have.”

Environmental awareness is what many consider going green and, while being a rather new concept, it has continuously gained momentum in recent years thanks to the spreading of information through technology. One of the first major pushes towards environmental awareness followed the industrial revolution. The artistic Romantic movement (Romanticism) in the early 19th century rejected industrialization, urbanization, and social conventions, and instead called for the celebration of emotions, inner beauty, and nature. In the modern day, environmental awareness represents one’s active choice to make decisions that reduce environmental impacts. Earth day, World Ocean Day, UN Climate Change Conference, and growing bans on plastic bags are all signs of growing international consciousness. Moreover, these organizations indicate an increasing force attempting to shift societies behavior.

As a scientist who has worked on human impacts on marine environments, Natalie sees the importance that scientists play in effectively communicating environmental impacts and hence, awareness. “Science is meant to be spread and educate the world. Science is meant to be increasing awareness.” Although her award-winning master thesis has a lot of potential, she says she wants to focus on plastic pollution for her PhD. “I want to study something that can potentially help make the planet cleaner, or at least, find remedies for the mess that we have created.” Natalie continues her passion for awareness and outreach outside academia by writing on her personal blog and participating in educational outreach events.

Small changes in our daily behavior can go a long way to help preserve, protect and benefit our global ecosystems, currently threatened by decisions having been made with a serious lack of awareness.

Natalie’s example sentence:

Being aware of something means you have to decide if you want to ignore it. 


Photo by Paul Skorupskas on Unsplash