Place-based learning and linked educational programs spark personal growth and global contributions at Stanford University
Endemic habitats and species found in university natural areas can define a unique aesthetic that shapes the institution’s identity. While acknowledging the aesthetic and recreational value, some assume university natural areas have little to contribute to more tangible and broadly relevant goals like academic development and globally acclaimed research. We reviewed academic programs at Stanford University that integrate university natural areas with education and research.
Linked programs at Stanford University show that from K12 students to senior researchers, campus natural areas can provide educational opportunities and impart skill sets that individuals will use as they move beyond the University. Highschool students participating in the REAL program complete biological studies and shadow Stanford undergraduates. In turn, Stanford undergraduates enroll in the field course Biology 105 where they learn field methods in ecology that they can use to complete undergraduate research, contribute to the University’s Conservation Program, or help with faculty research. The SEEDs program at Stanford, a club of undergraduates, completes a Bioblitz each year and reports their data to the Ecological Society of America, thereby contributing to the broader scientific community. Furthermore, research activities on Stanford lands have shown that globally relevant research can be completed within local environments very near to campus facilities. Campus open space brings value to Stanford University that outpaces the value of its development.