Abstract Detail

Education and Outreach

Callahan, Hilary [1], Meek, Jared [2], Dolt, Caroline [3], Asif, Aneeze [3].

Digital Botanical Diversity: Infusion, Inclusion, and the Liberal Arts.

With the sudden pivot of K-12 and higher education to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, interest surged in projects like I-DigBio and the BLUE RCN-UBE. For several years, these efforts are fostering improvement of undergraduate curricula by teaching Digital Biology content, skills in data science, and critical thinking in general. Given the clear feasibility of infusing the "digital revolution" in upper-level courses in systematics, evolution, biogeography or ecology, there is now a movement to add digital literacy into the syllabi and learning outcomes of high-enrollment core courses. But what about making our lessons anti-racist? This should be part of the training of all scientists, as well as a major thrust in non-majors service courses, interdisciplinary courses, courses that teach ecology as a liberal art, or courses in alternative formats such as small seminars, workshops, project-oriented labs, or place-based classes. Across the board, all of these courses can and should consider digital elements in the curriculum, and their potential to build inclusion, equity, and citizen engagement. Our presentation interrogates the balanced successes and shortcomings of an interdisciplinary place-based and digital course developed collaboratively by Barnard College and the New York Botanical Garden and taught in two consecutive years, entitled "The Global Power of Botany." It will also investigate the impact of funded internships for undergraduates during the summers following the semester-long course, who accomplished a sophisticated analysis of the biodiversity in botanical collections at colleges and universities all around North America. We will also describe the students of diverse backgrounds who completed the course or internships, and examples of course content in general and coding lessons in particular. We will highlight how lessons incorporated ideas about ultra-local and global biodiversity, women in science, history, and ecological perspectives other than those of white or European cultures. We will briefly showcase student projects that focused on biodiversity near or on Barnard's urban campus. To balance our focus on successes, we will examine downsides of the digital bandwagon, from the demise of reading to students' yearning to observe and care for diverse living organisms. We aim for our presentation to complement a 2017 letter in Nature Ecology and Evolution by Drew, Moreau and Stiassny, envisioning the digital revolution in ecology as a strategy for widening the diversity of students who feel welcome enough in our discipline to voice and pursue their distinctive interests and concerns.

1 - Barnard College, Biology Department, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY, 10027, United States
2 - Columbia University, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, New York, NY, 10027, USA
3 - Barnard College, Department of Biology, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY, 10027, USA


Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: EO3, Education and Outreach III: Diversity & Inclusion in Botany
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Thursday, July 30th, 2020
Time: 3:45 PM
Number: EO3004
Abstract ID:815
Candidate for Awards:None

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