Why teach natural history through hybrid and online courses?

Alison K. Varty and Susannah B. Johnson-FultonDownload PDF | Volume 11, 2017

In this paper, we describe the current trends in online enrollment in higher education and summarize the research on the effectiveness of online learning in general and with a focus on online education in the natural sciences. We conclude that teaching hybrid courses with face-to-face field experiences or fully online courses with autonomous field experiences may be an effective way to educate a larger, more diverse student population about natural history. Furthermore, we describe some of the current online offerings in natural history and provide examples of how natural history topics could be approached in both hybrid and fully online courses. [full article]

Nurturing Biophilia: Merlin and Sanderling

Don BurgessDownload PDF | Volume 11, 2017

The author develops a narrative of Merlin predation to illustrate the growth of biophilia. Initially descriptive, the story evolves by following an iterative process of questioning and relationship building, which leads to an informed and purposeful application of biophilia. [full article]

Seeing Things for Themselves: Jacqueline Palmer, Natural History Educator 1948-1960

Dawn L. SandersDownload PDF | Volume 10, 2016

This paper draws attention to the work of the natural history educator Jacqueline Palmer from the years 1948 to 1960. Palmer considered the whole aim of museum collections to be the encouragement of people “to go out and see things for themselves,” thus connecting dead specimens with living organisms. The overall intention of this article is to relate elements of her professional story to those of modern natural history educators. [full article]

101 Natural History Books That You Should Read Before You Die

10. John Madson’s Where the Sky Began: Land of the Tallgrass Prairie

Nicolette L. CagleDownload PDF | Volume 9, 2015

Over a decade ago, I sat at a table in a dimly lit room with five ecologists talking about the restoration and use of degraded lands. One of them, a tropical ecologist who secretly harbored a fondness for birds and a penchant for the fiddle, blurted out, “What about those ‘I’ states? Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana? They are so dull and flat, we should just cover them with wind turbines.” She was a trained ecologist, but she saw little value or beauty in the far-reaching fields, the rich black earth, or the wide-open sky. She wanted to plant turbine trees in an agricultural grassland. [full article]

On the Significance of Small Dead Things

Karen L. HabermanDownload PDF | Volume 9, 2015

Naturalists have an affinity for the organisms they study; yet, the practice of natural history often includes the killing of animals. This is especially true for small, aquatic invertebrates and insects. I examine this contradictory relationship between naturalists and the organisms they study from historical, scientific, pedagogical, philosophical, and personal perspectives. I also discuss the benefits and costs of the deaths of these organisms as well as alternative approaches for studying these animals. Finally, I advocate for thinking more deeply about their deaths as we explore the natural world. [full article]

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