Natural History Network
The skills of making informed observations, synthesizing those observations, and communicating them effectively are central to the naturalist. Developing university courses that optimize instruction in these skills simultaneously can, however, be a challenge. Here we describe a program at Santa Clara University comprised of two integrated co-requisite courses, Writing Natural History (ENVS 142) and The Natural History of Baja (BIOL/ENVS 144). Lectures through the 10-week winter quarter expand students’ knowledge of the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Baja Peninsula and help them to develop descriptive writing skills. The courses culminate in a ten-day expedition to the Baja Peninsula and Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez, where students explore local ecosystems and journal about their experiences. The result is a program in which students expand their skills in natural history and develop their own voices as writers and natural historians. We describe the structure and philosophy of this program and provide details on associated lecture topics, logistics, exercises, and readings.
Farnsworth, J., & Beatty, C. (2012). The Journal’s the Thing: Teaching Natural History and Nature Writing in Baja California Sur. Journal of Natural History Education & Experience, 6, 16–24.