BGCI Education Blog

We've set up this blog to talk about education, the environment, plants, the universe... oh yes, and botanic gardens. You can join in by leaving comments and signing up for email updates.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Chinese take-away

No, not one of those fast food jobs which taste great but are essentially bad for you. More a reflective process which was hard work and could be great for bg educators, producing conclusions from the congress. The BGCI team have made it home following the 3rd Global Botanic Gardens Congress in Wuhan, China. The congress had a huge number of people, as always I was so busy running around checking moderators, writing reports and getting over jet-lag I feel I didn't manage to speak to half the people I wanted to. Time takes on an interesting form in congresses too, the day one and two seem incredibly long, then before you know it, people are packing up and the congress is over.

The standard of presentations was very high this year and covered a huge range of fascinating topics. As always, the educators came out in force. Yong Shik Kim gave a fascinating introduction to the education programmes at Daegu Arboretum in Korea. Maite Delmas from the NHM in Paris outlined the role of this large institution in education with teacher training and comprehensive schools programme created by educators and researchers working together. Another session which stood out was 'Knowing your visitors - responding to needs'. Alaistair Griffiths from the Eden Project described the extent of Eden's visitor research programme, which examines visitor behaviour and learning outcomes and provides context for all of Eden's development work. Gert Ausloos and his team at National Botanic Garden, Belgium have been researching baseline knowledge and understanding of plants and the need for plant conservation among Belgians, with worrying results, and a clear indication of possible gaps in understanding that BGs can address.

It was also good to see some examples of research in botanic garden education that is currently taking place. Asimina Vergou, from Balkan Botanic Garden in Greece, is working on her PhD in schools programmes at RBG Kew, Wakehurst Place in the UK. She is investigating the learning that takes place through these programmes, for the children participants, the educator and the teachers, using interview and questionnaires with follow-up work. Her initial findings illustrate the complex interactions and outcomes from childrens' experiences within gardens and also have implications for the design and running of programmes. Ling Xu from Beijing University is the first person in China to study for a master's qualification in botanic garden education. Her dissertation findings also have useful potential application - looking at the attraction and holding patterns of different types of environmental imagery (naturalistic, aesthetic and environmental destruction).

Write ups on these sessions will be on the BGCI website shortly. In the meantime, details about the plenary speeches, the congress programme, abstracts and daily reports from the congress are available to download and use. The conclusions from the congress are of particular interest, especially those from 'Promoting education and awareness about plant diversity'. We collated and summarised the moderator's outputs from each of the education themed parallel sessions to produce an idea of the current situation, gaps and recommendations for how to move forward.

A massive thank you goes to all the congress contributors, presenters moderators and delegates, as well as the wonderful hosts, Wuhan Botanic Garden. Do let us know if you have any comments or suggestions on anything that has come out of the congress.

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