Education Program talk:Bucknell University/History of Ecology (Spring 2014)

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Week 1[edit]

The spring semester has started, and the class is getting underway. I've noticed a few students have created usernames, and they have appeared on the course page under the summary tab. We meet on Tues and Thurs from 8am to 9:22am. This Tuesday, we will be discussing the "Welcome to Wikpedia" document and encouraging all to begin the online training. Excited to be at this early stage. user: yunshui and user: ragesoss : looking forward to working with you! --Enstandrew (talk) 19:32, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Week 2[edit]

Week 2 has just begun, with a lecture on Linnaeus and the religious and social worlds that shaped his work. Students are conducting the online training and have reflected on the ways Wikipedia will help them study the history of ecology. Many students wrote about how the principles of Wikipedia, as described in the Welcome to Wikipedia file, seem to match the norms for scientific practice identified by historian/sociologist Robert K. Merton decades ago. Already it has been useful and interesting to compare the ways Wikipedia "democratizes" knowledge to the ways Linnaeus's method of classifying organisms also opened up the process of making knowledge to a wider population of people. I've also noticed that Yunshui has been engaging with students on their talk pages. It already feels like we are creating our own knowledge community in this class! --Enstandrew (talk) 18:35, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Week 2 ended with a discussion of Linnaeus, his classification system, and the ongoing project of species discovery. We were visited by Prof. Chris Martine (Biology, Bucknell University), who talked about his work in Peru and Australia with discovering species and documenting members of the Solanium group.--Enstandrew (talk) 19:23, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Week 3[edit]

Week 3 began today with a lecture on Humboldt. We tried to see Humboldt's work as a unification of the aesthetics of a landscape painter and the rationality/objectivity of a field biologist. His "la physique generale" seemed to combine both the appreciation of the "whole"--its beauty, its spiritual qualities--and the appreciation of the empirical, as collected through measurements of humidity, temperature, soil, and more. Looking forward to more discussion of Humboldt and other figures from lecture (like Charles Lyell) on Tuesday. --Enstandrew (talk) 19:23, 30 January 2014 (UTC)

Week 4[edit]

We are about to wrap up Week 4 tomorrow. Students have created user pages and have begun making suggestions for improving other articles, using the Evaluating Wikipedia Article Quality brochure as a guide. Some Wikipedians have even responded to, and incorporated, student suggestions, which is a treat to see! We are moving closer to selecting individual articles for projects, and it is exciting to see the Wikipedia platform inform our readings and lectures. For instance, when lecturing on Darwin's personal background last Thursday, we examined the Darwin talk page, where Wikipedians debated the relevance of his educational background in light of his theory of natural selection. The history of ecology is indeed alive today! --Enstandrew (talk) 01:48, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

Week 5[edit]

Week 5 is underway! Thursday's lecture included a lively discussion of Spencer Fullerton Baird and the US Fish Commission's investigations into conflicts over fisheries in New England in the 1870s. How far, it seems, we have come from Linnaeus and the "detached" naturalist. Students are working this week to add 1-2 sentences to articles related to class, backed with citations. We are getting closer to choosing articles for final projects! Informal feedback collected from students shows that the group is really enjoying the class and the Wikipedia format thus far, even if readings (and their jargon and scientific concepts) can be dense and challenging. --Enstandrew (talk) 01:55, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Week 6[edit]

Week 6 witnessed a monumental reversal of history when the "Against the Dam" team won a class debate, and overturned the decision to dam Hetch Hetchy Valley in California. We discussed the meanings of Conservation, especially the difference between Gifford Pinchot's view of nature and resources and John Muir's view of nature and beauty. We also read a few critiques of the social dimensions of conservation and wilderness protection--who loses when we protect nature?--Enstandrew (talk) 15:49, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Week 7[edit]

We reviewed for and took the mid-term exam!--Enstandrew (talk) 15:49, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Week 8[edit]

Coming back from Spring Break, we turned to the interwar period and the rise of plant ecology. We watched The Plow that Broke the Plains, learned about Frederic Clements' ideas of succession, and the horrors of the Dust Bowl. We also held an online discussion of writings by Olaus Murie and Aldo Leopold. This was an exciting moment, as for one of the first times in teh class, we discussed a figure that was also the focus of a student's own work. --Enstandrew (talk) 15:49, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Week 9[edit]

This week we turned to animals and how the study of their ecology compared and contrasted with plants. Cooperation and competition were major themes, as were several questions that plagued scientists over the first half of the 20th century: how do we gather an accurate estimate of animal populations? What is the best way to understand groups of animals--as integrated units? as aggregates of individuals? as communities? as super-organisms? Students also took the exciting step of adding 250-400 words of their articles out of the sandbox and into the mainspace! --Enstandrew (talk) 15:49, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Week 10[edit]

This week we traced ecology's development through the middle of the century, as a new concept--the ecosystem--took hold in scientific circles. We engaged with Raymond Lindeman's classic 1942 paper "The Trophic Dynamic Aspect of Ecology" and the differences between the idea of an "organism" and the idea of an "ecosystem." Full drafts of articles are now up, and students are excited to get feedback on them! --Enstandrew (talk) 15:51, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

For 2/25 - Article[edit]

The article I am working on is On the Origin of Species.

Jcf028 (talk) 17:50, 19 February 2014 (UTC)jcf028

Hi Jcf028! Note that you can go to "Summary and students" section at the bottom of the course page, and add the title of the article you are working on there. This particular article, On the Origin of Species, may be a tricky one to work on, because it's already very well developed. It's actually a Featured article, which means it has been through an extensive review process and other editors made all the improvements to it that they could think of. That doesn't mean it can't improve further, but its current state -- and the depth and balance of coverage of the subtopics within the article -- has been created intentionally, so any substantial changes should probably involve a lot of discussion first on the article's talk page. (If there's some particular subtopic about Origin that you think needs to be covered in more depth, one good option might be to start a more specific article on just that subtopic; the article already has a some such subarticles for things like reactions to Origin and the development of Darwin's ideas that went into it.) It's a pretty huge topic about which much has been published, so the tricky part is narrowing down your writing project to something where you can get a good handle on the available sources.--ragesoss (talk) 18:03, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Thanks ragesoss for the comment! I spoke with Jcf028 and cleared up what was the matter here. Jcf028 is actually working on Genetics and the Origin of Species and accidentally posted the bibliography to the wrong Talk page. Jcf028 is going to erase that bibliography from On the Origin of Species and place it in the correct location. We both appreciate the description of the potential roadblocks of that other article, as it is a good reminder of etiquette on Wikipedia, of the efforts and interests of the community in these history of science articles, and also your commitment to us as a class. Thank you! --Enstandrew (talk) 00:59, 20 February 2014 (UTC)