What is Natural History?

Natural history tells the story of our living earth. It comprises the systematic observation, classification, interpretation, and description of the biosphere and its inhabitants.

Natural history is a primary component of culture. Every society develops some system for classifying, interpreting, and valuing animals, plants, and other natural phenomena. These systems shape our understanding of the world and our place in it.

Natural history is field-based. It begins with direct observation and study of organisms in the conditions under which they actually live.

Natural history is interdisciplinary. While grounded in the natural sciences, it engages the humanities, social sciences, and the arts, and it informs technical fields such as medicine, agriculture, forestry, and environmental management.

Why does Natural History matter?

Natural history helps to shape communities and individuals. It gives us deeper insights into our relationships with other beings and the places we inhabit.

Natural history promotes sound environmental practice. It grounds policy in ecological reality, guides decision-making, and inspires and enhances conservation efforts at all levels.

Natural history informs and energizes environmental education. It connects students with nature, creates synergy across fields, and draws strength from all major divisions of the university. It prepares students to live honorably and responsibly in a sustainable world.

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The Natural History Network
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