“21st Century Naturalist”
Emergent Anthropocene phenomena will continue to drive a need for scientifically literate citizens far into the future. What role will naturalists play in this rapidly changing world? The traditional model of a naturalist may no longer be adequate for the task in front of us: gaining sufficient understanding of the complex web of interactions in the natural world to allow for its sustainable management. Where the 19th century naturalist systematically catalogued living things, the 21st century naturalist must approach the world as a living, intricately interconnected system in which humankind now plays a critical part, not only in studying it but also supporting its resilience. Developed through a research-practice partnership between scientists, educators, and learning researchers, this workshop presents a framework for describing knowledge, skills, and values for the 21st century naturalist. Workshop participants are invited to critique the framework and help define the evolving concept of the 21st century naturalist through a series of structured activities.
“Beyond Art and Science: Transdisciplinary Thinking in the Age of Humans”
This workshop will explore the creation of new, cross-pollinated projects that blend art, science, and the humanities in response to the Anthropocene. The activity welcomes everyone from existing practitioners, who have had projects already, to those who are just beginning to think about the subject. Practitioners of such collaborations will discuss the challenges inherent in cross- or trans-disciplinary work, as well as notable successes, inviting discussion with participants with a goal of developing models for successful implementation. Resources for beginning or further developing trans-disciplinary work will also be discussed.
“Evolving Collections Concepts: Expanding Definitions and Relevance with Advancing Technology”
The definition of what qualifies as and constitutes a natural sciences collection has changed over time in response to shifting public tastes, scientific paradigms, and the advent of new technologies. Collections are becoming increasingly viewed as essential and data-rich documentation of the natural world with specimens and objects prepared and preserved according to evolving scientific standards to assure maximum long-term stability and scientific value. They are seen as mission-driving museum resources with ever-increasing relevance in this new Anthropocene time period. This workshop will catalyze a discussion on the potential need to expand the definition of what might constitute a natural sciences collection and the resource/infrastructural needs that would be necessary to accommodate that expanded definition.
“Monetizing Our Collections”
Natural history museums are thinking ever more laterally about how to leverage their collections for improved business outcomes. This creative workshop will explore new mission-driven products and services as well as new engagement opportunities. It will provide a forum for exploring topics such as ethical responsibilities, return on investments, and museums’ authentic voices.
“Museum as Convener: Building and Benefiting from Interdisciplinary Networks”
The Climate and Urban Systems Partnership (CUSP) is a network of informal educators, climate scientists, learning scientists, and local community organizations across four cities dedicated to improving local understanding of and engagement with climate change issues. CUSP creates positive and fun learning opportunities using informal science education approaches that are local, relevant and solutions-focused. Nearing the end of a five-year, NSF-funded Climate Change Education Partnership grant, the Pittsburgh CUSP team will share what we have learned about the unique role that museums can play in fostering exchange of cross-sector expertise to create innovative education tools. Workshop activities will demonstrate strategies to support strong connections and valuable information exchanges across disciplines.
“Resolving the Disconnect Between What You Think and What You Do”
Natural history museums, public gardens, and other cultural institutions have served the public well as collectors and disseminators of vital information for understanding of the world and all life systems. From invaluable collections to innovative modes of interpretation, these institutions have been the nexus for information on the effects of human activity on the planet. But we have entered a new era where providing information and taking simple actions to address major environmental issues like climate change are not enough. Being less bad is not good enough anymore. We need a new paradigm on how we interact with the world and museums are the natural organizations to take the lead. To achieve credibility and inspire others to take action, we must ensure that everything we do reflects our values. We need to shift how we are thinking about this. We need to be active change agents.
This workshop begins with a series of interactive exercises aimed at shifting our thinking towards a regenerative approach that connects each of us with what we authentically care about, followed by a discussion demonstrating why museums are uniquely positioned to provoke and inspire impactful actions, including concrete examples from various museums that walk the talk as change agents. This workshop then engages participants to look at their own institutions and explore how to identify barriers and develop strategies for serving as transformative agents of change in their own communities.