Doctoral Candidate University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, United States
We are experiencing an international loss of species, with fragmented habitats a primary cause. This reduction in biodiversity impacts the cultures of many people, as our culture is how we experience the value of nature both intrinsically and through provision of ecosystem services. While schools exist in almost every community, most do not manage their grounds for biodiversity. Through a new global curriculum, Schoobio, students participate in transdisciplinary activities that culminate in their advocacy for biocultural diversity on their school grounds. By interacting with other students through a website portal, they share biodiversity data and come to better understand other cultures, as well as their own, and how they relate to nature. The foundation for this curriculum is a biocultural diversity knowledge system (including Traditional Ecological Knowledge) and authentic, experiential, place-based learning.
Development of this curriculum is the doctoral dissertation project of the author and examines the questions of how curriculum can affect ecological change on school grounds and what impact learning about biodiversity and culture has on students’ attitudes about representing these concepts on their school grounds. Students will map their grounds, collect biodiversity data, envision their ideal bioculturally diverse school grounds, and present their ideas to school leaders.
This poster will describe the transdisciplinary approach of the Schoobio curriculum and how middle and high school teachers are using it in their classrooms. Through feedback from teachers about the content of the activities, observations of student reactions to the activities, and outcomes of student presentations to school leaders advocating for more bioculturally diverse school grounds, recommendations for improvements to the curriculum will be shared. Recommendations for scaling up the curriculum, which will be made available at no cost to teachers around the world, will also be shared.
The implications for ecology as a result of widespread adoption of the Schoobio curriculum are potentially significant for increasing local biodiversity. More diverse school grounds would provide habitat for a variety of species of plants and animals, connect these habitats with others in the community, and, since schools are often hubs of community learning, encourage other public and private spaces to adopt more biodiverse management. The potential for increasing understanding of the intrinsic and ecosystem values placed on nature by different cultures is also great and could result in greater community commitment to environmental sustainability and focus on environmental justice issues.