Changes and Opportunities

Stephen C. TrombulakDownload PDF | Volume 5, 2011

The mission of the Natural History Network is to promote the value of natural history by discussing and disseminating ideas and techniques on its successful practice to educators, scientists, artists, writers, the media, and the public at large.  For the last four years, this journal has worked to promote that mission by providing a venue for information of use to natural history educators.  The Network’s board has learned that open-access publication, when standards are maintained, is an excellent tool for disseminating ideas and perspectives to help fuel a renaissance in the practice of natural history.  As a result, at the end of 2010, the board decided to expand the range of its publication efforts to provide an outlet for a wider range of perspectives about natural history beyond just education.  Rather than launch a new journal, however, we decided to expand the scope of the existing one.

As of January, this journal has been renamed the Journal of Natural History Education and Experience.  The scope of the journal is now expanded to provide perspectives on natural history as a mode of engagement with the world as well as information that will promote the development of natural history curricula. Content of the journal will range from the applied to the philosophical, but will be entirely focused on the principles or practice of natural history education and experience.  Specifically, we will publish articles on the philosophy and practice of natural history, descriptions of natural history curricula, and reviews of practical issues related to the teaching of natural history.

We hope that by expanding the scope of this one journal, we can still provide a venue for engagement with educators while also providing for more experiential and philosophical views that previously had little opportunity to be shared.  All other aspects of the journal remain unchanged: peer review, high standards, and on-line and open access.

We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to share your perspectives and participate in the renaissance.

To inaugurate the journal’s evolution, we are launching two new regular series.  The first is a regular book review column by John Anderson, the W.H. Drury professor of Ecology/Natural History at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.  The series, boldly called “A Hundred and One Natural History Books That You Should Read Before You Die,” will introduce you to the world of natural history literature spanning centuries and continents.  Some books you will find already to be well loved and familiar; others will be new discoveries that reveal new horizons, perspectives, and personalities.  I anticipate that it will be an exciting journey for us all; as Anderson says in his opening review just published, “Done monthly, it should only take us a little over 8 years or so to work through the entire list.  I hope it will be fun!”

The second series, called “Why Practice Natural History?” explores personal perspectives on the importance of natural history in the world today.  I have asked numerous people who have been central to the renaissance in natural history practice now taking place to offer their views on this critical question.  The essays contributed to this series will span the spectrum from personal to academic, focused to wide ranging.  I intend for all of them to be thought provoking.  The first in this series is Rewilding Natural History by Peter Kahn and Patricia Hasbach, who advance the view that the practice of natural history is necessary for understanding and engaging “Wildness,” which is crucial for the development of our full potential as people.

As excited as I am by these changes, what I remain most excited by is the possibility of receiving submissions from you, the people who are at the forefront of this renaissance.  Consider this journal as part of your platform for speaking your truth about the natural world, and let your voice be heard.

Stephen C. Trombulak is a professor in the Department of Biology and the Program in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 U.S.A.

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