Henderson, Flor , Vandebroek, Ina , Balick, Michael , Kennelly, Edward .
Creating botanical-cultural awareness in urban Community College students .
Botanical education is a field of great importance to contemporary society. With population increase in urban areas there is a need to explore strategies to enhance opportunities for botanical teaching and learning. The City University of New York (CUNY) is one of the nation's largest urban universities, it includes twenty-three colleges, six of which are community colleges. Among these, Hostos Community College (HCC), the smallest, is located in the South Bronx. HCC serves a large Hispanic population, predominantly first or second generation Dominican immigrants. We devised a project to involve Dominican students in botanical education by incorporating their traditional cultural heritage, and increase their cultural sensitivity. Dominicans comprise one of the largest Hispanic groups in New York City and have a rich tradition in botanically based health care. The pedagogical goals of the project were to provide students an opportunity to gain scientific research experience and build their cultural and language skills. This experience was part of a large scale project conducted by the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden, whose focus was on gathering and studying medicinal plant knowledge of Dominicans living in New York City and the Dominican Republic. Students were trained to conduct interviews in Spanish, learn basic plant identification, and collect plant samples in the field. In addition they were introduced to phytochemical laboratory techniques for plant extraction in the phytochemistry lab of the Department of Biological Sciences at Lehman College. The students demonstrated great competence in their involvement in the project. Their social and language skills were extremely useful with social norms and with language regionalisms. Engaging students from underrepresented minorities in fields of science in collaboration with leading research institutions provides unique opportunities to reinforce skills such as critical and analytical thinking, interpersonal relations, communication, cultural awareness and validation of traditional knowledge, all necessary talents for academic performance and professional success in our contemporary multicultural global society.
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1 - Hostos Community College, CUNY, Natural Sciences Department, 500 Grand Concourse, A107G, Bronx, New York, 10451, USA
2 - New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY, 10548, USA
3 - New York Botanical Garden, 200th St And Southern Blvd., Bronx, NY, 10458, USA
4 - Lehman College, CUNY, Department of Biological Sciences, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. West, Bronx, NY, 10468, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Waterman Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
Time: 1:50 PM