Create your own conference schedule! Click here for full instructions

Abstract Detail

The Future of Digital Projects for Research and Teaching in Botany

Callahan, Hilary [1].

Botanical Education: Making It Digital, Keeping It Real.

At museums, colleges and universitiess around the country, there is pessimism about an adverse political climate for science, inadequate funding, and other strained resources. Yet there is also optimism about recent and ongoing reinvigoration of biodiversity disciplines, increasingly integrated with genomics, digital imaging, GIS, and other computing- or data-intensive approaches. I review several specific changes on my own campus and in my own botanical scholarship and teaching. First, I explain how and why a third science requirement in "digital and technological thinking" was added to Barnard's existing general education requirements (alongside existing requirements in quantitative reasoning and natural sciences). Second, I consider how attitudes about science are shifting at Barnard and possibly elsewhere. Increasingly, students are seeking multicultural or social justice perspectives, aiming to apply knowledge and data to sustainability challenges on campus and beyond. Another major concern of faculty and students is broadening inclusion in STEM and making STEM relevant to marginalized groups. Next, I consider limitations on faculty: the rise in contingent appointments, the need for mid-career retraining, and reduced funding rates. Facing this kaleidoscopic change, I pushed myself and my students to begin to learn differently about botany. We are acquiring and applying "digital skills" such as R programming for statistical and phyogenetic analysis, niche modeling, and data visualization tools. We have been delving deeply into "open-source" resources such as digital herbaria at the New York Botanical Gardens and elsewhere around the world, the enormous Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the powerful Botanical Information and Ecological Network (BIEN), the accessible i-Naturalist app, and interdisciplinary resources such as the Biodiversity Heritage Library. These are all digital enhancements rather than replacements for experiences in the herbarium, the greenhouse, the laboratory or the field. I will argue that digital and real approaches in tandem are powerful, helping to deepen understanding and strengthen traditional skills such taxonomy, reading and writing. These approaches can also be used to highlight botany's impact on the economics and politics of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In sum, such approaches help citizens to become scientists, and scientists to become more engaged citizens.

Log in to add this item to your schedule

1 - Barnard College, Biology Department, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY, 10027, USA

non-majors botany
Science education
Data Mining.

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY4, The future of digital projects for research and teaching in botany
Location: 103/Mayo Civic Center
Date: Tuesday, July 24th, 2018
Time: 4:15 PM
Number: SY4007
Abstract ID:695
Candidate for Awards:None

Copyright © 2000-2018, Botanical Society of America. All rights reserved