S8.2 Providing authentic experiences, including museum-based learning opportunities and proper mentorship, to prepare undergraduates to tackle global challenges using natural history collections


Mrs Adania Flemming1,2, Dr Travis  Marsico3, Mrs Kari Harris3, Mr Jack  Ashby4, Mrs Zaituna Skosan5, Mr David Laurencio8, Ms  Molly Phillips2,6, Ms Deborah Paul7

1Florida Museum Of Natural History/iDigBio/TESI, Gainesville, United States, 2University of Florida, Gainesville, United States, 3Arkansas State University , Jonesboro, United States, 4University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge , Cambridge, United Kingdom, 5Iziko South African Museum, , South Africa, 6Florida Museum Of Natural History/iDigBio, Gainesville, United States, 7Florida State University, Tallahassee, United States, 8Auburn University Museum of Natural History, Auburn, United States

Museum-based Introduction to Natural History (INH) courses can provide experiential opportunities to enrich the academic experience of undergraduates, producing informed students, prepared for diverse careers including those in museums. These INH courses are designed to engage students from science and non-science backgrounds in inquiry-based museum projects which help them understand how scientific knowledge is generated. These experiences have the power to transform students’ perceptions of how the world works and how we are inextricably linked to the natural world, while accentuating the important role that museums play in our understanding of the world around us. Through these interactions, students take knowledge with them that will forever enrich their lives, and in turn, influence their everyday and once-in-a-lifetime decisions.
We are establishing a network of professionals consisting of individuals currently teaching or interested in teaching such courses. A platform is being developed for this network on the QUBES Hub portal, which will be linked to projects with similar goals (enriching the lives of undergrads through collections) such as The Biodiversity Literacy in Undergraduate Education network (, and the newly funded RCH BCEEnet The network will provide a forum to share resources to help start, improve, or modify existing INH courses.
We are proposing an open half day symposium where we will discuss the premise of the INH courses, plans of this network (including how to join) and showcase some of the outcomes of the courses. The symposium will consist of 10 talks and end with a 30-minute panel session. During this session we will discuss how we can truly harness the power of collections’ resources to prepare students to take on many of the global challenges in our world. We will invite selected speakers to submit abstracts and also depend on abstract submissions through the SPNHC abstract submission process.

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