College Campus Natural Areas As Living Laboratories for Teaching and Research
Thursday, August 13, 2015: 4:30 PM-6:30 PM
Exhibit Hall, Baltimore Convention Center
Carola A. Haas, Virginia Tech
Kevina Vulinec, Delaware State University; and
Marla McIntosh, University of Maryland
Campus natural areas provide locations for long-term research and monitoring projects, living ecology laboratories for generations of students, and a sense of place for students, faculty, and community members. Some of these natural areas are well-integrated into campus plans, and some may even create their own funding streams to support management, research, and teaching. Others, however, are thought of as neglected spots on campus that represent land on reserve for future university development. Campus natural areas may be heavily used for research, teaching, or outreach purposes, but knowledge of those functions may be overlooked or unappreciated by university administrators and planners. The true value and the potential contributions of natural areas to a university’s mission and strategic goals are often neglected despite great opportunities to involve students, faculty, and community members in management, restoration, monitoring, and interpreting natural local habitats that would contribute greatly to teaching and research in ecology. In addition, the built environment and campus plantings may provide other opportunities for lessons in ecology and sustainability, and for long-term ecological research. The purpose of this session is to bring together presenters from small, large, public, and private universities to give examples of the use of nature on campuses for teaching, research, or outreach, and to share that information with others. The presenters will provide historical context and discuss current challenges and opportunities. This session is intended to create widespread interest in campus natural areas as integral components of higher education.