Bringing a Biomimicry Perspective to Environmental Education

Leaves by Huma Beg

Leaves by Huma Beg

At the Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs (SWEEP) Spring Gathering on March 20, Edie Farwell presented on the open source Biomimicry curriculum that SLN developed last year in partnership with The Sharon Academy. The audience was comprised of educators who teach with an environmental sensitivity and focus, all who emphasize getting students outside and interacting with their natural world.

Biomimicry is a growing discipline that studies nature’s systems and then imitates these designs and processes to sustainably solve current challenges. Studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example of biomimicry. Studying the intertwined complexities of a watershed to understand systems thinking is another. Using biomimicry exposes students to new ways of knowing and taking care of the natural world. It helps in the mindset shift from seeing nature as something to exploit for short-term human benefit to seeing nature as an invaluable teacher and model:

“The more our world functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone.” – Janine Benyus

Supported by to the New England Environmental Educators Alliance /EPA and Wellborn Fund, Sustainability Leaders Network developed and piloted an open-source, semester-long biomimicry curriculum through which learners:

  1. Become knowledgeable and enthusiastic about biomimicry.
  2. Get outside and strengthen relationships with the local environment.
  3. Learn to better recognize, observe, and think creatively about processes and systems in nature.
  4. Shift to see nature not as something to exploit, but as a teacher and model.
  5. Collaborate with nature to devise and apply practical solutions to current challenges.

View and download Edie’s presentation here: Bringing a Biomimicry Perspective to Environmental Education.

SWEEP is a coalition of dozens of organizations and individuals promoting environmental education in Vermont. The coalition’s purpose is to foster environmental appreciation and understanding in order to enable Vermonters to make responsible decisions affecting the environment. SWEEP is working hard to strengthen environmental literacy standards throughout Vermont by implementing the new Next Generation Science Standards.

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