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Beyond Plant Blindness: Seeing the importance of plants for a sustainable world

Funding: The Swedish Research Council, Dnr 2014-2013
Period: 2015-2017
Research programme:
Project participants:

About the project

Contemporary humans have become an urban species. Living in megalopolitan cities reduces intimate contact with the natural world thus placing greater emphasis on 'presented nature' settings, such as zoos, botanic gardens and natural history museums. However, previous research has demonstrated that 'plant blindness' inhibits human perceptions of plants. In view of increasing species extinction the world can no longer afford our citizens to see 'nothing' when they look at plants, the basis of most life on earth. We believe conducting research to understand how we can move beyond 'plant blindness' is imperative for a sustainable world.

According to Swedish policy documents for education, students should be provided with knowledge about nature, the environment and sustainable development. It is therefore of interest to develop teacher education in this respect.

The aim with our study is to investigate learning experiences that move beyond 'plant blindness'. We will examine our proposed hypothesis if multimodal and sensoric experiences in 'presented nature environments' might create shifts in perception away from 'plant blindness' towards seeing the importance of plants for a sustainable world. The study will focus on teacher students and comprise a variety of ways to capture the students' perceptions of plants.

Research Team

The team is intentionally interdisciplinary in expertise and experience, representing the necessary theoretical and empirical foci in the research subject, namely subject didactics, botanical science and visual arts.

The research team comprises five persons – two members of the team are based in science subject didactics (IDPP): Dawn Sanders, associate professor/docent and Eva Nyberg, senior lecturer. Bryndis Snæbjörnsdóttir is a professor in contemporary art engaged in research based art practice (Konsthögskolan i Malmö vid Lunds universitet). Bente Eriksen is Director of Lunds universitet Botaniska Trädgårde and a plant systematics scientist. Dawn Sanders will lead the research programme, as her substantive research focus is the socio-educational role of botanic gardens .

Margaretha Häggström is envisaged as the fifth member of the team and considered to be a key actor in the research.

Partner Organisations

Jan Westin, as scientific director and zoologist of a science centre, will provide access to and facilitate the spaces in which we will conduct our research study into setting one (S.1).
Mari Källersjö, as director of a botanic garden, will provide access to and facilitate the spaces in which we will conduct our research study into setting two (S.2).

Exhibition in Gothenburg Botanical Garden

As part of the project, an exhibition took place in Gothenburg Botanical Garden. It was open between 12 April and 15 September 2017.

Page Manager: Johanna Gunnarsson|Last update: 5/16/2018

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