Learning beyond the classroom - Importance of residential fieldcourses in teaching plant biology

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Doyle Prestwich, Barbara
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University College Cork
National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
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Research Projects
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The establishment of physic gardens (gardens particularly focused on plants with medicinal properties) dates back to the middle of the 16th century and generally had strong links with university medical schools (Bennett, 2014). Wyse Jackson in 1999 described botanic gardens as ‘institutions holding documented collections of living plants for the purposes of scientific research, conservation, display and education’. In 2014, Bennet described the role of botanic gardens in university education as akin to learning in Paradise. By 2050 it is predicted that almost two thirds of the world’s population will live in an urban environment. This may have a huge impact on our ability to both experience and understand the natural world. Plants have a massive impact on the earth’s environment. This paper focuses on learning beyond the classroom in botanic & physic gardens and in industry settings using the annual Applied Plant Biology fieldcourse in UCC as a case study. The Applied Plant Biology residential fieldcourse has been running for the past five years (started in 2014) and takes place around Easter each year. I am the coordinator. It is a 5 day residential course for 3rd year Plant Science students. The learning outcomes of the fieldtrip state that; students should be able to discuss recent developments in industrial plant science research (facilitated in part by visits to a multinational (Syngenta) and smaller family owned companies (Tozers)); be able to explain worldwide plant conservation approaches and plant biodiversity in the context of different plant ecosystems and anthropogenic environmental impacts through engagement with such centers of excellence as Kew Botanic Gardens in London, Kew’s Millenium Seedbank Wakehurst in Sussex and the Chelsea Physic Garden in central London.
Physic gardens , Botanic gardens , Applied Plant Biology , Fieldcourse , Residential , Plant Science
Doyle Prestwich, B. (2019) 'Learning beyond the classroom - Importance of residential fieldcourses in teaching plant biology', Learning Connections 2019: Spaces, People, Practice, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland, 5-6 December, pp. 141-148. doi: 10.33178/LC.2019.28
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