Local education for the global good: Challenging learners to help halt biodiversity loss and achieve sustainable use

Year: 2012

Author: Ahlberg, Mauri K., Munson, Dave, Ansari, Yasser, Lehmuskallio, Eija

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Humans (Homo sapiens) are biologically an animal species, and, as part of the biosphere and its biodiversity, are totally dependent on the biosphere for food, oxygen, and so on. The UN International Decade on Biodiversity continues through 2020. Each region of the world contains its unique combination of species and ecosystems. For this reason, it is incredibly important that people learn to identify and recognize their local species and learn to use biodiversity in a sustainable way. We need an experimental approach, where the people of each region take responsibility for their local biodiversity, its preservation, and its sustainable use.

We are currently designing a collaborative program around climate change that will provide preliminary results in December. We will use leading-edge theories, methodologies and technologies to advance an integrated educational environment that promotes a deeper understanding of biodiversity and sustainable use through active participation in citizen science. We'll continually search and compare our approach to other approaches, in order to improve our programs. We'll create design experiments of inquiring classrooms. Our findings will be used to identify successes and shortfalls and build an effective, inquiry-based approach to biodiversity and sustainability education.

Kaasinen & Ahlberg (2012) studied 675 projects listed by the Taxonomic Database Working Group (TDWG), a nonprofit group coordinated by the International Union of Biological Scientists. Their conclusion is the same as Fisher (2012) and (IUCN-CEC 2009): the only method that is practical, easy, rapid, and interactive is the NatureGate approach. NatureGate will provide its identification tools and experience. Dr. Brian Fisher will provide data and expertise in the identification of ants in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere. According to our comparative studies, Project Noah is a leading resource for nature exploration and documentation, http://www.projectnoah.org/missions and http://www.projectnoah.org/education.

Students in EU, Australia, and USA will examine changes in distribution of species, the spread of invasive species, and other ecological impacts associated with climate change. School children and their teachers would act as citizen scientists, sharing their discoveries with a global digital community using tools provided by Project Noah.