OPS 6-9
Using a developing campus and disappearing wilderness as a tool of engagement for an urban student population

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Donna Hamilton, Biology, University of North Texas Dallas, Dallas, TX
Background/Question/Methods: Natural places on university campuses serve as in-vivo laboratories for everything from introductory activities for non-biology majors to long term research foci for resident graduate students and professors.  They also can serve as recreation in the form of hiking, biking or running trails and can serve as a compelling introduction to nature for urban populations.  The extent to which these natural places can be utilized is often dependent on factors such as size, public access and history of development.  The newly emerging campus of University of North Texas at Dallas has a significant opportunity to develop these natural places on campus and thereby plan for maximum future use by students and faculty.  The UNT Dallas campus is located in southern Dallas and has currently developed ~15% of its total land holdings of 110 hectares but is rapidly growing in enrollment and facility needs.  Additionally, the student population at UNT Dallas is racially diverse with a majority of Hispanic and African American undergraduates coming from the urban neighborhoods of southern Dallas. 

Results/Conclusions: Natural places currently in place on university campuses nation-wide were assessed for metrics such as diversity in use, public access and impact on general student population to determine best practices to guide the developmental strategy for these spaces on the UNT Dallas campus.