Welcome to the Ethnobotany Segues to Science Web Site!

Please use the navigation bar at the left to learn about different aspects of this project. It is probably best to begin with the discussion of the history of the project, then move through the presentation of how a segue works (presented below), then review the concepts of an ideal segue, and then examine some of the segues we have developed. 

In June of 2007 a workshop was held at the Society for Economic Botany annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. This workshop was the first of several that we have held as we have continued to develop and revize the concept of the science segue. A second workshop was held at the 2008 annual meeting of the Society for Economic Botany held in at Duke University. As part of this meeting a grant proposal was developed for organization of an International network of Ethnobiology Instructors. This proposal was successfully awarded by the National Science Foundation in 2009, and is titled the Open Science Network, http://www.opensciencenetwork.net/ . Meetings of the Open Science Network occured at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Economic Botany along with a poster presentation of the progress of the Segues to Science project, and an oral presentation of work that included two Segues modules. In 2010 we brought the concept of the Segue to the 12th International Congress on Ethnobiology in Tofino, British Columbia, Canada. Segues were also featured during the poster session at both the the 51st Annual meeting of the Society for Economic in Xalapa, Vera Cruz, Mexico and the International Society for Ethnopharmacology conference in Albacete, Spain.

Below is a loose description of the process of how a segue works within a course beginning with a justification for why segues are employed.

Segue Justification
Students taking courses generally have a greater interest in one science over others, emphasis on segues creates opportunities for exploration of sciences that the student might not otherwise experience.  The science the student is studying referred to in this site as the "course or host science" while the science to which the segue directs the student is called the "recipient science."

As a trans-disciplinary field of study, ethnobotany draws upon history, hypotheses, concepts, techniques, methods, and theories developed in many branches of science. Because of this, ethnobotany has many natural segues to other sciences. As perceived in this project, segues have five parts that when effectively articulated provide each student with a genuine opportunity to learn about other sciences through an ethnobotany course. Effectiveness of segues can be measured in two different ways:

  1. Student decisions (positive and negative) based upon their experience in the segue process, (for instance, a decision to take a course in a particular science, change major, etc.), and

  2. A positive change in a student’s knowledge of other science content.

Figure 1. Ethnobotanists study how people in all cultures address health care concerns using materials from the environments around them. This serves as a segue to many other sciences such as medicine, nursing, chemistry, ecology,  biotechnology, microbiology, and nutrition.

Segues consist of a series of component experiences that a student passes through. The entire experience is relatively quick, ideally involving less than one hour but exposing the student to many positive aspects of a particular scientific discipline. Since these are "Ethnobotany" segues to science, each begins in the science of ethnobotany and moves toward some other science. We illustrate this as thinking of ethnobotany as being the threads of a piece of cloth that are all running parallel in one direction. The students can understand the direction of the threads. They don't often see that there are other threads running perpendicular that are just as important. These are the threads of the "other" science. The goal of the segue is to show the student the threads of the ethnobotany weave, then get them to shift their view 90 degrees until they can see the other set of threads and follow them in the other direction. If we are successful, then in the end they come to appreciate both disciplines for what they contribute.

Ethnobotany Component: Ethnobotany components may consist of elements of history, hypotheses, concepts, techniques, methods, or theories that are taught in an ethnobotany course. These are measured as part of learning outcomes.

Figure 2. Ethnobotanists study the co-evolution of human culture, cultivated plants, and the suite of social and technological developments that allow change to happen.

Ethnobotany as a science is often working at a different angle to problems than other sciences, much as the threads of the cloth being woven in the loom to the left are at different angles to the threads of the weave. Segues to science helps the students to see that the "threads" cross and lead in new directions.

Segues must be "natural" connections between scientific disciplines. This is very important to consider. Not all sciences have strong overlap so segues are not easily possible between them. Also, within our project we are attempting to develop segues that employ elements of daily life, things that students might encounter in their lives  such as foods, clothing, housing, their natural and anthropogenic environment. These factors provide opportunities and limitations for the segues that can be developed.

Ethnobotany Segue: An ethnobotany segue is a natural transition that is recognized between ethnobotany components and components of another science. These may be identical, articulated, or otherwise logically connected components.

Figure 3. Ethnobotany deals with subject materials that are commonly encountered in daily life. As such, lessons learned are easily reinforced each time the student sees the example again. A segue to chemistry discussing tattoo ink will be reinforced each time the student sees a tattoo. If the student is interested in tattoos, then perhaps chemistry will also become of interest as well.

Because there are limits to the amount of content that a segue can include, but there is a huge amount of information about any one science, it is important to provide the student with a quick checklist of some of the other kinds of areas that a recipient science is involved in. This is particularly important when there is not a natural segue to a part of the science that is really exciting for the students but there is a segue into some aspect that is memorable. We can go with what is memorable and still encourage the students to go for the exciting discipline.

Other Science Component: Other science components may consist of elements of history, hypotheses, concepts, techniques, methods, or theories that are taught in another science course. These are measured as part of learning outcomes.

Figure 4. Students need to become comfortable moving between different kinds of social-technologies some of which are plant-based and some not. Often the greatest resistence to technology is lack of exposure/familiarity. With exposure comes opportunity for true choices and true decisions. 

Students must have really fantastic role models. People are needed who are excited about the work they do and the ways that they get to use science in their jobs, their lives, and their world. The recipient science needs to be ALIVE in order for the students to want to explore it more. The short segue is just enough time to make an introduction to real people who can BE the inspiration that is needed for the next level of encouragement.

Other Science Practitioners: Other science practitioners are scientists and others who employ the other science in their work. Their role in the segue process is to serve as contacts and advocates of the other science for students.

Figure 5. Mentor ethnobotanist and conservationist Mark Merlin working with students in a Hawaiian forest.

Figure 6. Mentor ethnobiologist Hazen Audel teaches science in wild and crazy ways that you will never forget. See his web site for his educational videos: www.thewildclassroom.com

One difficult step that we have learned from students is that they often get excited about a topic but then are not sure what to do next. Since these are students, a logical step is to suggest a basic science course that this the next step in the path of learning the recipient science.

Other Science Courses: Other science courses are those that provide training in the same area as the segue and can be recommended to students with interest in a particular segue topic.

Figure 7. This photo has nothing to do with Ethnobotany really. This is a couple of pigs (live) on the way to market in Cambodia doing about 30 mph upside down... Some days while working on this project we feel like these pigs. The ride is great but we are not quite sure where we are headed....

Funded by National Science Foundation Grant Award Number DUE06-18690